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3 SBC churches noted for energy reductioncomment (0)

October 22, 2009

Three of the four churches honored this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the prestigious Energy Star Congregation Award are Southern Baptist.

First Baptist Church, Dallas; First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.; and Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, Fla., each earned recognition for their efforts at reducing energy consumption.

“I think our story is best told by the numbers,” said Gary James, energy education manager at First, Dallas. “We were spending close to $1.4 million for utilities before our program began. For 2009, we project that will be down to about $1 million. In just the first 10 months of our program, we managed to save close to $400,000. The amount should grow to $450,000 when we reach a full 12 months.”

“With a church our size, we should be at the forefront of demonstrating energy efficient, green solutions,” James said. “We need to show leadership that other churches and our members can follow. That’s why we view our program as being about energy stewardship, and not just energy conservation.”

Energy Star said the savings of nearly 6.5 million kilowatt hours per year at First, Dallas, represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 648 homes.

First, Springdale, and its Shiloh Christian School saved nearly $250,000 without any major overhaul or replacement of equipment just 14 months after implementing an energy saving program.

“The most significant things we did were to monitor our usage patterns and become aware of how to better use energy, and train both staff and members on how they could contribute to our energy savings effort,” said James Maxwell, energy manager at First, Springdale. “Our energy saving program so far is based mainly on awareness and attention to details.”

At Idlewild Baptist, the 440,000-square-foot facility was designed with energy efficiency in mind when it opened in 2005, Energy Star noted. Two of the considerations included opting for tinted windows and a light-colored roof to reduce solar heat load. The church selected Energy Star-qualified appliances as well as higher efficiency water fixtures, chillers and lighting fixtures. Occupancy sensors were installed in most rooms to control the electrical loads, and a well was drilled outside for use in landscape irrigation and a chiller water tower.

Using Portfolio Manager, a free online tool from the EPA’s Energy Star program, Idlewild has been able to track its energy reduction progress. Using 2006 as a baseline, the tool showed a 15 percent reduction in 2008 electrical consumption. The first half of 2009 showed a 26 percent energy reduction compared to 2006.

Another significant part of the church’s effort has been to use free Energy Star posters and other materials throughout the facility to remind staff and volunteers of the importance of energy management. Newsletter articles keep the congregation informed and offer tips for practicing energy stewardship at home and in the workplace. (BP)

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