This is ENERGY STAR’s first regular column for Worship Facilities Magazine, an opportunity for which we are very grateful. Participating in the Worship Facilities Conference and Expo (WFX) for the past two years told us we were in with the “right crowd” to better serve the faith community with free, unbiased information and technical support on energy efficiency. So, until we see you at the upcoming WFX in Atlanta, this column and our web site at www.energystar. gov/congregations can help your congregation find information and develop a plan to cut energy costs, which at the same time will help prevent pollution and reduce global warming emissions related to energy waste.
Future columns will deal with topics like efficient lighting, heating/air-conditioning, office equipment, new construction, existing facility operation and maintenance, financing upgrades, and many more topics. This particular column will launch with an overview and offer some context in which to consider how much of your church budget goes to energy costs, how much money you might save to redirect to your mission, environmental impacts of energy waste, and, in fact, a context to evaluate your next light bulb purchase.
While ENERGY STAR is most well-known for its work in energy efficiency along with the U.S. Department of Energy, we are also a joint operation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)an organization whose mission is about human health first.
As a federal program, we’ll appropriately leave the theology to the clergy, but we deeply respect and value their powerful contribution to motivating Americans to be more thoughtful stewards of energy resources, and to consider the pollution entailed by inefficient energy use.
In 2006, evangelicals and an array of interfaith groups made national news in asserting that climate change is a religious issue based on the call to stewardship of creation that virtually all faith traditions teach. The reality of global warming has far reaching implications. How much is global warming contributing to drought in Africa? Will there be wars strictly for water supply? What about rising sea levels and the billions living at water’s edge? Will the territory of disease-bearing insects spread?
The list of environmental threats to life and health goes on, and data prove that it is the poor who suffer most. With climate change, we are living within an experiment with all the earth’s life support systems.
Much valid debate remains as to how quickly these and other specific changes are occurring, what the most critical impacts will be, and what we can best do to slow the earth’s warming and preserve our life-support systems, with least economic impact. Energy efficiency can make a modest but important contribution, and it is something we can all do nowto our own financial benefit.
Over the past 10 years, ENERGY STAR has developed a “market-based” strategy that, without regulation, works with consumer product manufacturers, home-builders, owners and operators of small businesses, major corporations, state and local government, schools and higher education, hospitals, home-owners and tenants, and houses of worship to make energy efficiency an easier, more reliable, lower-risk, higher-return investment. So whether your congregation is motivated primarily by improving stewardship of natural resources, or by your financial resources (your utility budget), energy efficiency can be a cost effective, ethically robust strategy. We have even developed an annual national awards program just for congregations.
Until the next issue of Worship Facilities Magazine, please visit us at www.energystar. gov/congregations and, with clergy and governing board permission, click “JOIN.” This will start your free monthly ENERGY STAR Congregations “E-Update” newsletter, which will keep you informed of new energy efficiency technology and other news that can help you manage energy costs.