The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently recognized St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Monroe, Georgia for its achievements in the fight against climate change. St. Alban’s, one of nine small businesses and congregations recognized nationally, has shown that with effective energy management practices and innovative efficiency solutions, it is possible to save money and use significantly less energy to power buildings and facilities.
“I commend St. Alban’s for demonstrating that a commitment to environmental stewardship can lower energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg. “Energy efficiency can save money, reduce air pollution and help fight climate change.”
Like many congregations, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church is housed in a facility that has been expanded, renovated, and changed over time. The church was founded in 1953, built its first 800-square-foot building in 1954, and today occupies 14,703 square feet. The additional square footage is comprised of two separate expansion efforts, the last taking place in 2000. Energy had not been a large concern when the building was first built. But a changing world and a growing membership have moved energy stewardship as one of the most prominent positions on the church’s list of goals in the last three years.
The first steps in increasing efficiency were improvements to the older building’s envelope, adding insulation, and changing lighting from incandescent to CFL. Smaller, but significant, improvements included timers on water fountains, weather stripping, and caulk. Landscaping was upgraded to include large areas of mulch to reduce mowing and water. One office was relocated to substantially reduce HVAC expenses in the newest building. The parish has also signed up for the ENERGY STAR ® Challenge, committing to reducing energy usage by 10 percent a year. Signing the GIPL Covenant is another commitment made by the parish to help it remain on track.
Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church estimates that they are saving more than $1,500 annually in energy costs for the operation of their worship space. The savings of nearly 70,000 kWh per year represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the annual electricity use of over five homes. Efforts have not stopped with improved energy efficiency. Recycling cardboard, bulletins, newsletters, and office waste saves a ton of paper, saving 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water.
The 2010 Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Award winners used tools and resources provided by EPA’s Energy Star ® program to develop their plans and measure and track their accomplishments. By strategically managing the energy performance of their facilities, these small businesses and congregations cut utility costs without sacrificing features, convenience, style, or comfort while making significant contributions to a cleaner environment.
More about the 2010 Energy Star Small Business Award winners: http://www.energystar.gov/SmallBizAwards