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Tallahassee’s First Presbyterian installs solar and goes carbon neutral

Solar panels on church roof

Solar panels on the roof of First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Photo courtesy of FCP Tallahassee.

In 2007, First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida, conducted a “Light from Light Capital Campaign” to fix its water damage problems and install 25.5 kilowatts of solar panels on its roof, replace its education building windows with more energy efficient ones and purchase an energy efficient HVAC system. The church also committed to go carbon neutral in response to the 2006 General Assembly Resolution calling on all Presbyterians to reduce their energy usage and go carbon neutral.

The solar panels were installed in February 2009 and by going to the church’s website one can see real-time data about the church’s solar voltaic generation. As of November 2009, more than 54,000 pounds of the greenhouse gas CO2 have been eliminated.

The church also committed to not only offset its remaining annual carbon emissions, but also to offset the previous year’s much higher carbon emissions. Church funds will be used to purchase supplies, and volunteers will install compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow showerheads and take other steps to make low income homes in its community more energy efficient. It will cost the church less than $500 to offset its pre-solar emissions. Future offsetting costs will be lower.

Families were also invited to offset their carbon emissions, and the church is creating its own offset fund rather than paying offsets to another entity. It will cost members $10 for every ton of carbon their household emits annually. With the church’s offset program, members will know exactly where the money goes, and there will be no second guessing if it was spent wisely, because church volunteers will be spending it to retrofit homes in our community to reduce energy usage. They also will know the amount of carbon emissions reduced with each home retrofitted.

By doing this the church will reduce not only its carbon emissions but that of others who cannot afford to do so. It will also reduce energy bills, saving the church money for other mission work. It will make folks more comfortable in their homes during weather extremes. Church members will also make new friends in the community and will be doing their part to reduce the impacts of global climate change on their neighbors around the world.   

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