Eco-Journey is the blog of the Environmental Ministries Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It includes a wide array of environmental topics: upcoming environmental events, links to interesting articles and studies, information on environmental advocacy, eco-theology topics, and success stories from churches that are going “green.”
Author Rebecca Barnes is the Associate for Environmental Ministries at the PC(USA). She is a graduate of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary with an MDiv and Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) dual degree.
First Presbyterian Church of Athens announced that it successfully crossed the finish line in EPA’s 2013 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. In its fourth year, the competition featured buildings from across the country racing to improve energy efficiency, lower utility costs, and protect health and the environment. Together, competitors cut their energy costs by more than $100 million.
First Presbyterian Church of Athens reduced its energy use by 15.2% over the evaluation period and 20% for the past twelve months and prevented 9.2 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the year. Their ENERGY STAR score increased from 39 to 55. Additionally, First Presbyterian Church of Athens was formally recognized for placing first in the House of Worship building category.
The winner of the competition was Claiborne Elementary in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which reduced its energy use by 46 percent.
From improvements in operations and maintenance to upgrades in equipment and technology, the competitors together reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 230,000 metric tons and saved more than $100 million on utility bills annually. The competitors also prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 31,000 homes per year.
“The EPA’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition helped us save energy, cut our utility bills, and protect the climate,” said Keith Morrow, Chair, Property Committee, of First Presbyterian Church. “The Energy Efficiency Programs of Columbia Gas and AEP-Ohio along with the efforts of the Earth Justice Committee and the commitment of the whole church were instrumental in helping First Presbyterian Church achieve these results,” said Craig Foster, Technical Consultant with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, a statewide program that works with Houses of Worship to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.
First Presbyterian Church of Athens reduced its energy use through a variety of strategies, including replacing an inefficient gas boiler, upgrading thermostats, replacing incandescent lighting throughout the building and replaced a 40-gallon gas water heater with an on demand gas water heater.
“The impressive results of the fourth-annual National Building Competition are proof positive that any building can take simple steps to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings where we all work, play, and learn,” said Jean Lupinacci, chief of ENERGY STAR for commercial buildings and industrial plants. “All of the participants in the Energy Star National Building Competition are finding more and more ways to cut energy use, saving thousands of dollars and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Congratulations to First Presbyterian Church of Athens for helping to lead the way.”
The 2013 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition measured energy performance over the entire 2013 calendar year.
Competitors tracked their building's monthly energy consumption using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, EPA’s online energy and water measurement and tracking tool. Claiborne Elementary won the competition by demonstrating the largest percent-reduction in energy use, adjusted for weather and the size of the building. The energy use reductions for each top finisher were verified by an independently licensed professional engineer or registered architect at the conclusion of the competition. Last year, Demarest Elementary School in Bloomfield, NJ won the competition, reducing energy use by more than 52 percent.
Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. Thousands of businesses and organizations work with EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and are saving billions of dollars and preventing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.
Click the link below for more information about the 2013 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition, including top overall finishers and top finishers by building category, an interactive map of competitors, and a wrap-up report: click here.
For more information about Ohio Interfaith Power and Light and its energy stewardship work with Ohio Houses of Worship, click: www.ohipl.org
For more information about First Presbyterian Church of Athens, click: athensfpc.org