You have likely seen products such as computers, refrigerators, and other electric items with the Energy Star seal on them. Energy Star, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency, has a new program that grants the Energy Star label to houses of worship.
Ten houses of worship throughout the United States have earned the Energy Star label, which means that their buildings are in the top 25 percent in the EPA’s National Energy Performance Rating System. Montevallo Presbyterian Church is the first PC(USA) church to receive the Energy Star label for a house of worship. Congratulations to Montevallo PC and thank you for your commitment to caring for God’s earth.
Wendy Hare, pastor at Montevallo comments on their church’s role in earth care, “Montevallo Presbyterian is seeking not only to make and keep our facilities ‘green,’ but we are also trying to spread the ‘green word’ that God calls us to care for, preserve, repair, and protect our world. This planet is one of God’s greatest gifts not only to humanity, but also to animals, plants, and all of creation. As beings given much power and ability, we are also tasked with the responsibility to care for and maintain our world.”
Montevallo PC sent in the following information about their efforts to make their church more energy efficient and work on earth care as part of faithful stewardship:
Montevallo Presbyterian Church (USA) in Montevallo, AL, is a church of about 50 members. The sanctuary of the church was constructed in 1902, and the church fellowship area, Sunday school rooms, and kitchen were added around 1930. Like many congregations with older buildings, MPC has struggled with the cost of utilities and maintenance, largely because our buildings had no insulation in the walls or ceiling.
In 2008, MPC renovated the church fellowship area, Sunday school rooms, and kitchen adjacent to the sanctuary. In order to improve energy and financial performance, we incorporated strategies of the EPA's ENERGY STAR program. For example, during our renovation, we insulated the building to R-32, replaced all the old single-pane windows with energy efficient ones, and installed ceiling fans to improve the comfort level in the building when these rooms are occupied. We also installed energy efficient lighting, featuring T-8 bulbs and electronic ballasts and a new HVAC system with two energy efficient heat pumps. We also installed blinds on the windows to control heat gain from the sun.
We have recently installed a timer for our water heater so that we are now heating water on Sundays only. As a part of our kitchen renovation, we installed Energy Star appliances, including a dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave oven.
The church “Green Team” monitors daily energy and environmental practices, including energy usage and management; water usage and management; waste stream reduction and management; impacts of our activities on air, water, and land; reduction of toxic substances; environmental education; attention to care of creation in worship, liturgy, and prayer; and use of organic products.
In an effort to control and minimize our environmental impacts and energy consumption, we established a maintenance checklist with a monthly schedule of maintenance activities performed by our church members. These activities include cleaning and changing HVAC filters; cleaning condensing units; monitoring for water leaks; using T8 and CFL bulbs; maintaining weather-stripping; landscaping with native plants to reduce/eliminate the need for watering; eliminating the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides; composting yard waste and leaves; and conducting environmental audits of our facilities. Other improvements include recycling metals, plastics, paper, and glass and eliminating the use of paper and Styrofoam plates and cups at church functions.
To gauge how much energy your congregation’s building is using, and set goals and strategies for reducing energy consumption, your congregation can use Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager System. To learn about how to use the Portfolio Manager and how to become certified as an Earth Care Congregation by PC(USA) Environmental Ministries, participate in a webinar on October 6. Learn more about the webinar.