Four congregations in New England are being recognized for receiving Energy Star labels in 2011. An Energy Star label indicates that a building operates at least 75 percent more efficiently than the average for that building category. The congregations being awarded the labels are: Dennis Union Church, Dennis, Mass.; Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Roxbury, Mass.; Winchester Unitarian Society, Winchester, Mass.; and New England Pentecostal, Pelham, N.H.
There are currently 19 congregations nationwide with labels, five of which are in New England. The First Parish in Needham received an Energy Star label in 2010. “These congregations are setting a solid example of financial and environmental stewardship. They have successfully reduced their energy use and are showing all houses of worship across New England that environmental stewardship is possible for all sorts of organizations,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “We hope more small businesses and congregations will follow their lead and maximize energy efficiency opportunities in their own operations.”
Dennis Union Church, Dennis, Mass.
Dennis Union Church was able to add 5,000 square feet of new space, renovate and add central air conditioning to their facility and still lower their annual energy bills. The Church used rebates and technical support from Energy Star to reduce their energy use. Even with the addition of 5,000 square feet of space, an increase of more than 40% in the size of their facilities, Dennis Union Church is saving 1,308 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually and has reduced their overall electric bill by $262. In total, this represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of nearly one ton. All four congregations, with the help of their dedicated congregants, made substantial efforts to mitigate their environmental impact, while at the same time reducing the cost of energy for the congregations.
The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Roxbury, Mass.
The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center is the first Islamic center in the U.S. to earn the Energy Star Label. The Center became an Energy Star partner in June of 2010. Jawad Benazzi, the facility manager, spearheaded the Center’s energy efficiency initiative, purchasing energy efficient appliances in the kitchen and offices and putting signage in areas such as bathrooms and classroom to remind members to conserve whenever possible. The Center had electrical and gas audits conducted by their local utility for free and that helped them to identify energy saving opportunities. This led to upgrading more than 70% of their interior lights. Other improvements included adding motion detectors in bathrooms, and putting reducers on the bathroom faucets to save on water and energy.
Winchester Unitarian Society, Winchester, Mass.
“With an initial investment of just $7,000, we have made significant gains in energy efficiency and cut our heating bills by more than half. Our success is proof that a congregation – even one with an older building like ours – doesn’t need to spend a lot to make meaningful reductions in its carbon footprint,” says Chuck Khuen, co-chair of the Winchester Unitarian Society’s Building Committee. After a full assessment of the building and its heating system, the society tuned and repaired their heating system and vents, weather stripped windows and doors, added heating zones in the building to reduce energy use during off-peak hours. The improvements paid for themselves in the first year, substantially reducing the congregation’s carbon emissions and freeing funds for uses directly supportive of the congregation’s mission and vision. “What we’ve done so far is just the beginning,” remarks Khuen, “and EPA continues to provide us with ideas and inspiration through the Congregations program and other resources. We look forward to earning our next Energy Star.”
New England Pentecostal Ministries, Pelham, N.H.
New England Pentecostal Ministries made many changes to earn the Energy Star label including replacing old toilets to save water, adding energy efficient windows, insulating hot water pipes, adding insulation to the building, weather stripping the doors, purchasing high efficiency heat/air conditioning units, and adding timers on all outdoor lights. “As an Energy Star congregation, we are committed to do all that we can to find ways to encourage our congregation to actively find ways to reduce energy. I really feel that this program will challenge each congregant to do their part in boosting our rating for the next Energy Star Label,” said New England Pentecostal Ministries’ Pastor Ruth Choate.
More Information on Energy Star for Congregations
Energy Star Labeled Congregations