Working with the faith community on energy efficiency is quite rewarding, and the diversity of award winners is an ongoing education in the different faith traditions fostered by America’s religious freedom. Past winning congregations, from megachurches to small inner-city and rural worship facilities, have represented non-denominational Evangelicals, the United Church of Christ, different branches of Judaism, Catholics—including a nuns’ convent—the United Methodist Church, a Zen Buddhist temple, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Seventh Day Adventists, a Sikh temple, Congregationalists, and others. This year, however, three out of four award winners represent one denomination.
The 2009 Energy Star award winners are Swarthmore Presbyterian Church of Swarthmore, Pa.; Idlewild Baptist Church of Lutz, Fla.; First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark.; and First Baptist Church of Dallas. How did the Baptists “sweep” the awards? Much like the state of Pennsylvania swept the Energy Star Small Business awards in 2006—with the focused support of a technical partner or contractor.
This year, two leading Energy Star “service and product provider” partners nominated clients for whom they had done extensive work. Energy Education Inc. nominated client churches in Dallas and Springdale, and Siemens Building Technologies, partnering with STH Architects, nominated their Florida client.
Gary James, FBC-Dallas energy education manager, states, “With $450,000 in savings anticipated in our first year, this represents funds that can be redirected to and contribute to the church’s ability to better serve our members and our community.”
James Maxwell, energy manager at First Baptist Church of Springdale (FBCS) and Shiloh Christian School (SCS) says they are “… implementing an energy-saving program that has saved nearly $250,000 without any major overhaul or replacement of equipment.”
Idlewild Baptist Church estimates that they are saving more than $25,600 annually in energy costs. Tony Pasley, director of facilities, says, “Plus, this is money that can be redirected to increased outreach and ministry programs.” This aggressive program has yielded an 18% energy reduction from calendar year 2006 to 2008, and 2009 shows a 26% reduction compared to 2006.
Jeff Darlin, facilities manager at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, reports, “We invested $80,000 and we have a projected payback of 6.7 years. The comfort level has significantly improved and we’ve reduced the energy budget from $50,000 in 2006 to $32,500 in 2009.” Swarthmore Presbyterian estimates that they are saving more than $30,400 annually in energy costs in the operation of their house of worship.
Learn how to “benchmark” and track your house of worship energy performance at www.energystar.gov/benchmark and through Energy Star’s free online webinars. Then, you can learn how to cut energy costs at www.energystar.gov/congregations—where you can also click on “award winners” to read more about the 2009 winners and those from past years who have saved money through energy and environmental stewardship. 2010 award applications will be online in January, with a May deadline for submission. The 2010 winners are building their records of achievement … now!