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Greening of Churches

Posted Aug 14th, 2017

Greening of Churches TERESA MADALENO 

Ask any energy expert how a building can be transformed from an energy eater to a truly efficient building and they will likely say that you need to take a “holistic” view of the entire building. Having a clear understanding of what you currently have, how it works and what it costs is the first step to fixing what ails your building. It’s much like a doctor’s visit where the physician needs to assess the patient to see what is wrong before he or she can actually go about treating the patient.

Many churches across the United States and Canada understand this concept and are investing in clean energy following full energy audits. Yes, you can see some church rooftops crowned with solar panels, high efficiency HVAC inside or more energy-efficient lighting, as examples. Still, there are many churches that haven’t taken the green leap. Many congregations have admitted that they “fear” the unknown and are concerned about costs.

Today, the costs associated with becoming energy efficient are decreasing; there are more incentive programs and special financing for green energy projects. What church leaders need to know is that they should be looking at the opportunity costs. In other words, what work is not happening by the church because they are paying so much for energy?

According to United Methodists Communications, a number of churches in South Louisiana decided to take a serious look at their energy consumption and discovered at least $2,000 in annual savings, others much more than this. Massachusetts, First Parish is another congregation that could see the value in being green. Temperature controls, upgraded insulation, and improved ventilation were all part of the First Parish energy transformation. The Washington Times reported that the church saw a significant drop in its utility bill – it went from $20,000 to $12,000 in just one year. In the United Kingdom, 400 churches made a pledge last year (2016) to have reviews conducted on their energy use and implement measures to make them more efficient.

Cory Sparks is the former pastor at Faith Community Methodist Church and the founding director of Sustainable Churches for South Louisiana. She offered the following advice in a Christian newsletter: Discuss energy bills at church meetings and talk to a professional energy auditor. Sparks said, “We often try to get by for the moment. We should think five or ten years ahead.”

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