Dennis Union Chuch
713 Rt 6A
Dennis, MA 02638
Dennis Union Church (DUC) is a medium-sized — 440 member—congregational (United Church of Christ) church located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Like most churches, budgets are tight, and energy expenditures are not a priority. The congregation would rather spend its precious resources on its local and worldwide missions, which serve the elderly, homeless, impoverished, and victims of natural disasters.
In the fall of 2003, the church embarked on an ambitious renovation and expansion program to strengthen the underpinnings of its landmark 1838 sanctuary, add approximately 5,000 square feet of new program space, and upgrade all utilities, including—for the first time—central air conditioning. Concerns about energy consumption and carbon footprint mandated that the renovated building consume less energy post-renovation than it had before the addition of new square footage and air conditioning.
Creating an Energy Action Plan
Early in the design process, the DUC building committee consulted the Cape Light Compact, a regional energy services organization; the ENERGY STAR website; and the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) LEED guidelines. Working with the project architect, a six-part plan was developed, including:
1. Retrofitting/installing high efficiency, ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and controls;
2. Replace obsolete gas furnaces with ENERGY STAR qualified, high-efficiency condensing units;
3. Making envelope improvements—doors, windows, and insulation;
4. Replacing two large tank water heaters with a central tankless unit;
5. Decommissioning two underutilized refrigerators and two electric dehumidifiers; and
6. Installing a photovoltaic array.
ENERGY STAR Resources Used
In addition to the “ENERGY STAR for Congregations Guide: Putting Energy into Stewardship,” booklet, the DUC building committee used the ENERGY STAR website to research building methods and products. It was ENERGY STAR that first made the committee aware of LEED guidelines, which were very helpful. The DUC building committee made extensive use of ENERGY STAR qualified product listings and studies, particularly for gas HVAC equipment and tankless water heaters.
ENERGY STAR Products Used
Below is a list of some of the ENERGY STAR products installed in the renovated spaces.
-- York P3H and P3UR condensing gas furnaces
-- York H2DH036, H2DH048, and H2DH060 Air Conditioning Condensing Units
-- Jeld-Wen Clad Wood Custom Windows
-- Lithonia 2PM3N T8 fixtures
-- Lightolier 1001F_3d CFL downlights
-- Progress P7146-11STRWB sconce lighting
-- Honeywell T7350 thermostats
Key Efficiency Measures
The energy efficiency measures were a part of a $2.5 million construction program that added new space to the church facility, renovated approximately two-thirds of the existing facility, and replaced most of the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC infrastructure.
Construction: All doors are steel construction with interior “airlock” doors. Windows are Jeld-Wen Classic double-pane, and the insulation exceeds Massachusetts energy code requirements.
Renovation: Un-insulated walls were retrofitted with blown-in cellulose. Ten large, double-hung windows were replaced with Jeld-Wen Classic double-pane sash. Ceilings were re-insulated to meet Massachusetts energy code.
New systems and equipment: Non-condensing gas heating units were replaced with high-efficiency condensing units; lighting was replaced with high-efficiency T5, T8, and CFL lighting fixtures; Title 24-compliant occupancy sensors were utilized in most rooms; and a tankless Noritz water heater was installed.
In addition to the new construction activities described above, DUC conducted an energy audit of the un-renovated space to determine which lighting fixtures should be updated or replaced. Due to the findings from the audit, the DUC committee did the following:
-- Upgraded eight conventional EXIT signs to LED signs
-- Replaced 57 magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts
-- Replaced various incandescent bulbs with CFLs
-- Replaced six halogen flood lamps with metal halide
Because DUC is a congregational church, members are highly involved in the decision-making process. Outreach efforts included:
-- Regular congregational meetings to discuss the project and expected outcomes
-- Weekly updates on the progress of the project
-- Tours of the building during its opening weekend, highlighting energy efficiency measures
From April to June 2008, electricity usage improved by 2.7 percent compared to the same period in 2006 (before construction). The larger, more sustainable building is also more comfortable.
Given the size of the project, there were relatively few obstacles. However, a few do stand out:
Changing attitudes: One of the most difficult challenges was getting members to let go of two underutilized refrigerators. Only after people saw how much energy the refrigerators consumed did they realize how expensive these “free” donated units were.
Mixing energy efficiency and historical integrity: Great care was taken to closely match the historic 1838 sanctuary. Adding to the difficulty was the necessity of ADA approval. This was quite a challenge in many areas, but particularly when selecting light fixtures. For example, of the thousands of sconces on the market, exactly one, the Progress P7146-11STRWB, met all of the project’s criteria.
Local Permitting: Local authorities are not always up-to-date on the latest energy efficiency measures. For example, when DUC’s solar array went for permitting, the Building Department surmised that each of the 40 modules comprised a “rooftop air conditioner” and assessed an absurdly large permit fee. Fortunately, the fee was successfully appealed and ultimately waived.
Reconciling modern expectations with conscientious energy use: Much of DUC’s congregation wanted to air condition the facility. On the other side, a number of members were adamantly opposed to needlessly contributing to climate change. Installing a photovoltaic array, sized to completely offset additional energy usage, made everyone happy and creatively solved the problem.
This project would not have had the outcomes it did without substantial help from partners within the government and commercial sectors:
Cape Light Compact: The Compact is a regional energy services organization operating under the auspices of Barnstable County. It assisted the project in three ways: by providing consultation on energy efficiency options and assistance programs, offering rebates for high-efficiency lighting and controls, and conducting an energy audit of the un-renovated portion of the facility. The audit identified a lengthy list of upgrades, which the Compact installed and help finance (80 percent of the cost).
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative: Through its Renewable Energy Trust, the MTC underwrote $26,650 of the more than $68,100 necessary to install DUC’s 8.2 KW photovoltaic array.
Rise Engineering: Rise conducts the Compact-sponsored energy audits, and arranges installation of the recommended energy-saving equipment.
Solarworks, Inc.: Solarworks is the photovoltaic contractor, which processed and filed all of the applications necessary to secure the MTC grant.
An article about DUC was the lead story in the Earth Day edition of the Register, which is the local weekly news publication:
Also, the Massachusetts conference of the United Church of Christ has recognized DUC for its environmental leadership:
Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by Dennis Union Church or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application. Building energy performance, operating characteristics, and ownership/management may be subject to change over time.
Dennis Union Church
Dennis Union Church
Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
Facility Type: House of Worship
Total Floorspace: 17000 sf
Year Constructed: 1838
Contract Type: None
|Stage 3-Load Reductions|
|Stage 4-Fan Systems|
|Stage 5-Heating and Cooling Plant|
For More Info:
Dennis, MA 02660
508 385 3543