The Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the first U.S. congregation to earn the new Energy Star label for houses of worship: Plantation Baptist Church of Plantation, Fla. Pastor Tom Hunter says, “Our energy stewardship was motivated by our desire to obey the Word of God. We believe the Bible teaches the principle of stewardship for God’s people. A steward is someone who manages another’s resources. We use the slogan ‘Not wasting the Lord’s money’ to spearhead our energy management.”
Plantation Baptist Church was founded in 1957 and has a diverse membership of about 600 people representing more than 20 different countries. The current Plantation Baptist Church facility was built in 1979, consists of about 31,000 square feet, is 100% electric-powered and served by Florida Power and Light. According to property manager and church member Mrs. Devon Newton, the facility benefits from being designed with its solar orientation to minimize heat gain from the Florida sun. The concrete block stucco facility has excellent thermal and insulation qualities, which help keep the internal temperature stable.
During recent roof repairs, additional insulation was installed, and Mrs. Newton adds, “We turn lights off and on when needed. We just use old fashioned logic.” The church has its air-conditioning system serviced quarterly to maintain efficiency, which also extends the life of the equipment—another aspect of stewardship.
EPA announced the availability of an Energy Star energy performance score for worship facilities on September 1, 2009, and a number of other congregations are now in the process of entering their energy use data in order to obtain a score.
To be eligible for the Energy Star label, a worship facility must earn an Energy Star energy performance score of 75 or higher on a 1-100 scale. This score indicates that the worship facility performs better than 75% of similar worship facilities. On average, a Portfolio Manager score of 75 or higher is consistent with energy savings of 25%-30% per square foot for the facility type.
As a taxpayer-supported program to prevent pollution without regulation, EPA does not charge any fees associated with applying for or earning the Energy Star label. However, eligible facilities must have their application verified by a professional engineer before submission. This ensures accuracy of information as well as adherence to the standards for both indoor air quality and thermal comfort as set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Finally, facility lighting standards must be in accord with the recommendations of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).
For more information about saving money and the Energy Star energy performance rating for worship facilities, as well as other technical support, please visit www.energystar.gov/congregations and www.energystar.gov/benchmark.