Franklin Tennessee’s First Pres Works to Better the Environment

Jim Mahurin, member of First Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, submitted this story as part of Environmental Ministries Church Earth Care Stories. First Pres has successfully reduced their CO2 emissions and continues to strive towards a greener church life. If you would like to share your church’s Earth Care stories, don’t hesitate to send it to

The First Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN has successfully taken steps to reduce CO2 emissions and water runoff, to extend the life of mechanical equipment, and various other, greener ways to keep the church running.

The church instituted several procedures, including programmable controls, to reduce heating and cooling cost.  This effort reduced our electricity and natural gas consumption materially.  Electrical consumption dropped by approximately 350,000 kWh annually.  There was a similar percentage reduction in natural gas.  The $30,000 cost of programmable control installation was recovered by savings in our utility bills within fourteen (14) months. 

The church has instituted a program to assess optimal performance of our heating and air conditioning equipment so as to reduce the amount of operating time.  The combination of programmable controls and equipment efficiency will hopefully extend the life of this very expensive equipment. The economic value of preserving our equipment may be materially greater than savings realized by reducing our utility bills.

This effort has reduced our CO2 output approaching one million (1,000,000) pounds per year.

The church campus occupies twelve and one half (12.5) acres.  The soil conditions on parts of the property are very poor.  One tract was sloped and the source of severe water runoff.  We have installed five and one half acres (5.5) acres in four (4) species of Tennessee native grass and thirteen (13) species of Tennessee native flowers.  The native species have thrived where we previously had difficulty growing weeds.  The native tracts at the end of twenty-four (24) months are dense.  There is no longer water runoff from those areas as the tall grass absorbs nearly all rainfall.  The native grass reduces the church mowing bill by approximately $5,500 annually.  

Native plants have roots up to thirty-six inches deep.  The plants are an effective carbon capture, placing approximately 20,000 pounds of carbon into the soil each year.   

Sound environmental policies are good economics.  Our initiatives to date have paid for themselves within fourteen (14) months or less. 

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