This column continues the discussion articulated by reporter Carolyn Heinze and those interviewed in “The Evolution of a Green Church Mentality” in the January/February print issue of Worship Facilities Magazine, also available at http://www.worshipfacilities.com/go.php/editorial/13558. I recommend this insightful piece, if you have not read it.
The article addresses the issue of “green certification” cost through LEED, always well represented at WFX by numerous LEED APs. Christine Robbins, studio director at 5GStudio in Dallas, said, “ …there are many design strategies that have little or no front-end cost while resulting in much lower electricity and water bills after the new building or renovation is complete.” Robbins had observed that the right design and construction could make LEED certification eventually possible, if not immediately affordable. Indeed, congregations can implement the LEED guidance they can afford, while delaying actual certification. Any savings could help fund future LEED certification.
Another financially strategic path to green recognition is the free Energy Star label, already earned by more than 13,000 commercial facilities. The no-cost, online Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool shows the energy performance of your church on a 1-100 scale, based on your utility bills and other key factors. Churches scoring 75 or greater are eligible for the Energy Star Label, signifying their energy efficiency is in the upper 25-percentile of the nation’s worship facilities. The Portfolio Manager score is accepted in the LEED-EB process for energy efficiency points. Portfolio Manager calculates weather-normalized energy usage, as well as dollar savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Learn more at www.energystar.gov/benchmark.
Energy professionals who benchmark 10 facilities annually with Portfolio Manager or have one client earn the Energy Star label are listed free in the Energy Star Service and Product Provider directory linked from www.energystar.gov/sppresources. Also linked is pre-recorded training especially for licensed professionals (Registered Architects and Professional Engineers). Links from www.energystar.gov/newbuildingdesign provide training to earn an AIA Learning Unit (LU) or Continuing Education Unit (CEU).
The one potential cost of earning the Energy Star label (besides the facility upgrades to save money) may occur if a church lacks a licensed professional (Registered Architect or Professional Engineer) in the congregation or community who will provide free Portfolio Manager data verification. Some churches eligible for the Energy Star label lack a licensed professional who is a member, and lack the funds for paid professional data verification, which could cost up to $1,000 or $1,200.
Energy Star solved this problem for public schools by asking licensed professionals to volunteer to provide data verifications for a few local schools. Therefore, this column launches Energy Star’s national recruitment of volunteer-licensed professionals in the faith community to provide at least three Portfolio Manager data verifications over the next year for the worship facilities of their choice.
Licensed professionals helping three worship facilities validate Portfolio Manager data within the year will be featured at www.energystar.gov/congregations and at a special reception at WFX 2011 in Dallas. To learn more about volunteering to help congregations earn the Energy Star label, send an email to EPAcongregations@energyandsecurity.com.