Green SanctuaryMany People’s Church members are interested in alternative energy and energy conservation for a variety of reasons. Some cite sustainability, others—lower environmental impacts (relative to conventional energy technologies and fuels) and perhaps some just like feeling virtuous. The church’s Green Sanctuary Committee encourages a sustainable lifestyle for both individual church members as well as the broader faith community, which includes our infrastructure. This article is the first in a two-part series (second in late June/ early July) regarding energy efficiency.

In 2008 the UU Church Assessment Team partnered with the Retired Engineer Technical Assistance Program (RETAP) Assessor to assess and evaluate what could be done to decrease pollution, reduce waste and conserve energy. Numerous energy-efficiency projects were identified and have been implemented already at the church through retrofitting existing and building infrastructure, but also as a part of the new building design.

The following projects were intended to improve the energy efficiency of the old building:

  1. Replacing old single-pane windows with more efficient double-pane windows
  2. Supplementing insulation in the roof when it was replaced
  3. Considered insulating the concrete block walls (but decided it was not cost effective)
  4. Modified hot water heat system in old building

a. Added check valves to create four independent loops
b. Added a programmable thermostat able to control loops independently
c. The heat in the building can now be controlled according to need and use with an eye toward avoiding waste
d. New high-efficiency boiler added during renovation

5.  Lighting

a. Four-foot fluorescent tubes were placed in both offices and classrooms
b. Old ballasts are currently being replaced with electronic ballasts
c. T12 tubes being replaced with T8 bulbs
d. More efficient bulbs in hallways

6.  Motion detectors were considered, but are not likely cost-effective because members are good at turning out the lights

The following projects were included as part of the design of the new building, so no retrofitting was necessary, yet the following efficiencies were achieved:

1. Energy-efficient windows
2. Foam insulation added outside, and frame and drywall were added on the inside of walls.
3. A long-life metal roof with insulation
4. Efficient gas forced air heat and efficient air conditioning were both also included

In the next article we will discuss how you can be more engaged in further energy efficiencies at home or help continue the tradition already established
at the church.

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