The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C., has named three congregations, whose combined energy savings result in total annual savings of more than $30,000, as winners of the 2008 Energy Star Award for Congregations. The congregations are Sparks United Methodist Church of Sparks, Nevada, Dennis Union Church of Dennis, Massachusetts, and Congregation Or Shalom of Orange, Connecticut.
The energy savings of 20,100 kWh of electricity and 20,000 therms of natural gas will prevent 166 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. In total, this represents an annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 20 homes.
Many congregations rely on outside professionals to help develop, implement, and monitor an energy savings plan, therefore Energy Star also awarded special recognition to 15 energy efficiency "collaborators" that provided products and/or services. In all three cases, this year's winning congregations also relied heavily on involvement from their own memberships to achieve their cost-cutting goals.
"These houses of worship are excellent examples of how other clergy and members can respond to rising energy costs, and at the same time become better stewards of the environment. Often, the very products that save money and prevent pollution can also improve comfort and convenience for staff, members, and visitors to the house of worship," says Jerry Lawson, national manager of the Energy Star Congregations Network.
The energy saving efforts of the winners included both new construction for expansion and existing facility upgrades. The efficiency improvements incorporated, among other things, lighting upgrades, improved insulation, door and window seals, installation of Energy Star-qualified appliances and equipment, and installation of energy management systems, as well as strategic operation and maintenance efforts.
Most congregations that invest strategically in energy efficiency can cut utility costs 25%-30% without sacrificing features, style, or comfortwhile making significant contributions to a cleaner environment. To read more about the 2008 Award winners, their supporting collaborators, or to find Energy Star-qualified products, the Putting Energy into Stewardship guide, and other free information and tools, visit www.energystar.gov/congregations.