Beacon United Church is a 22,000 square foot facility in Yarmouth Nova Scotia.
About 20 years ago it was seen as both good stewardship and practical planning to look at ways to reduce our carbon footprint while improving efficiencies within the building. There are many opportunities in our churches for improving our energy consumption, reducing our green house gas emissions and saving us money all at the same time. Here are a list of simple steps or suggestions which could have a significant impact on both the environmental impact and the costs of energy for the operation of your church.
#1 Get an Energy Audit done. Energy Audits are generally provided by engineering firms with a special skill set aimed at looking over entire facilities and finding ways to reduce energy consumption. Energy Audits can yield very detailed reports which can compare current energy consumption on specific devices to a likely return if upgrades were completed. Energy Audits can be costly but searching around can lead to significant savings. At Beacon we had several Energy Audit proposals which, even when discounted, came in at $3000.00 to $5000.00. With more research a provider was found (Dale Robertson, Enerscan Consultants Limited, 22 Jules Walk, Halifax, NS. Phone 902-445-4433) who would visit our facility, give us a limited detail report, and make suggestions for improvements. The total cost for this was just $500.00 and was a perfect fit in our case. When the consultant is on site it is a benefit to have a congregational member available who would have some knowledge of the facilities electrical and mechanical systems.
#2 Look for help. The Ecology Action Center has a consultant for free who can help you with many questions you may have and give direction on who to contact for what. Call Emma Norton, Energy Efficiency Co-ordinator, Ecology Action Centre Phone 902-240-6696 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Efficiency Nova Scotia also has multiple programs that are available to save money, grant money and reduce your emissions. They also have people to help point you in the right direction for specific projects and upgrades. Phone 877-999-6035 or email@example.com .
Maritime Conference Office can also provide guidance for financial and resource support. firstname.lastname@example.org
#3 Host an energy conservation workshop in your church and invite local charities and Not For Profits. Once again The Ecology Action Centre will partner with you on this, look after most all of the details and put on the program for free!
#4 Look for the simple solution first. Is the photocopier on standby all the time? Connect it to a timer/power bar which will switch it off when the office is closed. Replace that leaky or non existent weather stripping on the doors and windows. Shut off water heaters that are only used occasionally, when not in use. Replace old fridges and freezers. If they are used only occasionally put a convenient accessible switch on them so they can be easily turned on/ off as needed. Install LED lighting where practical (check pricing at Costco for LED lighting to replace your conventional tube type fluorescents)
#5 Look for partnering and funding opportunities. For example if you host seniors groups for activities you are eligible to apply for the federal New Horizon’s seniors grants. These can pay up to 100% of your project/ upgrades. Also check out Maritime Conference Hunter Church Building Fund.
#6 “Faith And The Common Good” is just starting a chapter in Nova Scotia and is a wealth of information for you. The UCC is one of their partner organizations. Their mission is to support diverse faith and spiritual communities and contribute to greener, healthier, more resilient neighborhoods. Call them or join them. Once again Emma Norton is the contact person ( phone 902-240-6696) or email@example.com
#7 Have a “Green Enthusiast” in your congregation who will challenge you to find new ways to make improvements in your energy consumption.
The above are a few examples of what can be done to help reduce our impact on our environment while reducing the costs of our operations. There is always room for improvement in all buildings and looking for way to reduce our energy consumption shows good stewardship and strengthens our relationship with God and Creation.
Beacon United Church