The First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater, on Osgood Ave, has implemented various big and small projects to lower their carbon footprint over the past couple of years.
What is a Carbon Footprint: the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc. This includes decreasing energy use and waste and increasing appliance efficiency.
From Melissa May, Chair of the Peace & Social Justice team,
We all want to save the planet (or at least ensure that we can still live on it) but where to start? At First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater, we took on projects big and small. Most of the big ones had to do with the building and grounds. Solar panels got installed, saving an average of $500 per month on the electricity bill. With a recycling grant from the county, we put in a system that includes composting. When the parking lot was redone, some permeable pavers were installed, along with rain gardens. Thermostats were replaced with new wireless pneumatic ones allowing rooms to be cooler when unoccupied. Motion sensors were installed where appropriate.
There were also many items that did not require digging deep into the pocketbook. Timers were added to lights, pumps, water coolers, and televisions. All light bulbs were replaced with LED bulbs. Purposely using washable dishes and flatware or compostable versions when needed to serve. Communion by intinction saves a lot of dishwashing. For events, pitchers of water instead of individual bottles were offered.
Outreach to the community is also in the plan. The summer program that the church hosts have so far built four naturescapes (playgrounds made with natural materials) at various schools in the area. Big River Farms has a produce stand in the parking lot every Wednesday during the summer. Carpooling is encouraged and there are bike racks available for those who wish to two-wheel it to church. One of the staff picks up the leftovers at Panera Bread one night a week and drops them off at a shelter in Minneapolis. The Alternative Gift Market that takes place every November offers fair trade items and opportunities to donate to various non-profits. First Presbyterian has reached out to other churches in the area to share ideas.
It does not happen overnight, but the more awareness there is, it seems that more opportunities for caring for our earth seem to show themselves.
CHECK OUT ALL of First Presbyterian Church's Energy Projects:
Office HVAC Wall Units
Expect rebate from Xcel Energy
Replacing three original (1968) office wall units that provide air conditioning and radiant heat (from hot water boiler lines) to the offices.
Will require draining and cutting the hot water lines connecting the boiler to all heating units in the building.
Estimated cost $13,500
Will include programmable thermostat for more efficient use and energy savings.
Wireless Pneumatic Thermostats with Controller
Expected rebate from Xcel Energy
Project estimate is $6,500
REplacing 10 old-style pneumatic thermostats with new wireless, programmable pneumatic stats ($300 each) that communicate with each other via a wireless radio mesh.
Adding a controller/server to program these new zones ($2,000) and control the sanctuary, thus giving us 24/7 programmability nd the option of offsite monitoring or access.
Will included Ark, Ark classrooms, Dining Room, nurseries, choir room, and children's choir room. More can be easily added later.
Currently, nearly every room with hot water heat is set at a constant temperature of 65-70 for the entire winter. With this upgrade, we will be able to make these rooms comfortable in the winter when they are being used, and then turn them down to 50 degree when they are unoccupied, saving energy and fuel costs.
Solar Panel installation (later summer or early fall)
Expected tax credits, energy credits, and our own discounted energy payments.
No up-front cost; uses the mechanism of a capital lease to allow the installer to collect tax credits we're ineligible to receive (as a non-profit).
40 kw solar panel array will be installed on our flat roof
Will replace 60% of our electricity usage in a year.
Will save us 20% of the cost of that amount of electricity for 13 years, then 100% after 13 years (expiration of lease).
It requires no holes in the roof. Panel sleds are weighted down with concrete blocks
excess energy is sold back to Xcel
We will be able to monitor real-time energy production on the web and will have a display in the Gathering Area.
Other Energy-Saving Projects (90% complete)
Expected energy rebates
Replacing Parking Lot 400-watt metal halide bulbs with LED bulbs