Last year the Green Sanctuary Committee created the Net Zero Task Force to work with the Finance and Building & Grounds Committees, to explore the possibilities for People’s Church achieving net zero carbon emissions. After several months of discussions, interviews with outside experts and contractors, and examination of the church building components, a plan of action is coming into focus.  Details need to be worked out before presenting it to the board and the congregation, but here is a broad outline of the plan so far.

The plan aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions from our building by 2030.

Some things have already been, or will soon be implemented:

  • Building & Grounds has been systematically replacing our fluorescent lighting with LEDs to reduce electricity consumption
  • A 20 kW solar photovoltaic roof array has been approved by the board, and will be installed when weather permits this spring—this will offset 30-40% of our electric usage
  • The hot water distribution pipes for the heating system have been insulated by the Building and Grounds Committee
  • 3 inefficient distribution pumps in the heating system will soon be replaced

This coming year will involve working out details for future projects:

  • Develop and test prototypes for improving the thermal efficiency of our windows, and
  • Insulate the ceilings of the classrooms and offices in the old building
  • Explore technical solutions to improve the efficiency of our heating system, and develop construction details for other projects as needed
  • Develop cost and savings estimates for these and future projects.

The rest of the plan will involve two major efforts:

  • Insulate the entire building envelope—roofs, walls, and foundation—in order to reduce our energy needs as much as possible
  • Phase in the replacement of our current fossil fuel based heating system with efficient, electricity driven, HVAC systems using newer and emerging technology.

The suggested implementation will be phased over the next 10 years to coordinate with such things as the payoff of the current building loan, the purchase of the balance of the solar panels, and expected replacement schedules for the existing roofs and heating system.  At the end of that period we can then evaluate our energy demands, the progress Consumers Energy has made to wean itself from fossil fuels, and the potential need to add more solar panels or to purchase renewable energy credits.

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