Sustainable Living with Building and Grounds

The Building and Grounds crew at People’s Church continuously looks for ways to be good earth stewards while caring for our nearly fifty-year old church. Much of this work takes place behind the scenes and may not be obvious, but it is vital to our congregation’s efforts to live sustainably. This month’s Green Spot highlights some recent projects.

The older part of the church building predates modern energy efficiency standards but B&G keeps making improvements to conserve energy. Gary Leadley led efforts to replace the lights in all of the classrooms with LED bulbs and submitted the paperwork to get a rebate from Consumers Energy that offset half the costs. The lights are brighter yet use less energy and won’t need to be replaced as often—a triple win! Gary Heckman installed a damper in the kitchen exhaust hood so cold air no longer pours in. He also relocated the thermostat in the new addition so heat would only turn on when the meeting rooms are in use. Unfortunately, the reduced heat in the entry area caused a chill for folks at the welcome desk. But that inspired a creative solution: a skirt for the table to localize warmth from a space heater!

Some B&G work is unglamorous but greatly appreciated. Case in point, the crew may have finally solved the perpetual “sewer gas” problem. They added four air admittance valves, caulked the toilets, extended the vent stack, and repaired the toilet exhaust dampers. It is not clear which change did the trick, but the air quality in the building has been delightfully unremarkable lately.

Stewardship efforts also benefit the grounds. Well-placed drains in the repaved parking lots prevented floods during heavy spring rains. In the Memorial Garden, Catherine Niessink partnered with a new regional program to tackle invasive swallow-wort and is now exploring options for removal of the large autumn olive bushes on the north border.

B&G is doing great things behind the scenes to make our church and grounds beautiful, comfortable, and sustainable.

—Cybelle Shattuck

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