Environmental Stewardship Starts in Your Place of Worship
Recent years have seen a wave of faith-based environmental and sustainability initiatives – from climate change to clean energy. And while many of these efforts have played out on a national policy stage, that stewardship mission often hits home in our backyard and, indeed, in our places of worship.
Since 2013 LEAP has helped nearly 20 Charlottesville area churches pursue their stewardship goals while increasing the electricity savings of their buildings. We’ve worked with Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian, Fork Union Baptist Church, Church of Our Savior, and Sojourners just to name a few. Through our faith-based services, we have increase the health, comfort, and efficiency of these buildings.
Congregations offer a unique challenge when it comes to energy efficiency because most congregations don’t have consistent, steady times of use. They have large periods of time where the facility is relatively unoccupied which means investments may have a longer payback and therefore must be scrutinized carefully. They also may have budgetary constraints. And some congregation members may see social services as a higher priority than energy efficiency.
Let’s face it. Any money we’re wasting due to old equipment, lights left on, or over heating or over cooling a building, is money that can be spent on a better management, smarter investment on equipment and maintenance which will reduce your utility costs over the long-term.
What we’ve found locally is that faith-based organizations have plenty of opportunities to save money and increase their stewardship. Adding insulation or switching to higher efficiency appliances or bulbs or educating the members on energy efficiency can save anywhere from 10-30% on energy costs. After the initial payback period, the money saved can be dedicated to the congregation’s social services and other priorities.
First Baptist Church on Park Street in Charlottesville achieved 30% savings from lighting upgrades and better energy management practices.
The first step is to call us and schedule a review of the building’s energy use. LEAP can come in for a small project fee and perform an energy assessment walk-through of the building and put together a report of key findings and recommendations so that you can bring expert knowledge and information to your decision-making team – whether that’s the “green team” (Church of Incarnation) or the environmental action committee (TJMCU) or the congregation’s board of trustees. Then LEAP can work with you to decide what energy improvements you might want to pursue. As a non-profit dedicated to energy efficiency measures, we have an unbiased and reliable perspective you can count on.
Check out this great resource from the energy star website energy star guide for congregations and check out our other helpful resources at http://www.leap-va.org/faithbased or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.