Aldersgate United Methodist Church earned recognition as a Sacred Grounds winner in the Cool Congregations Challenge for their work to transform their two acres into a neighborhood oasis with a playground and native plantings. They have now upgraded their worship building to reduce their energy use and are preventing 14 tons of carbon emissions and saving $1,700 on energy bills annually. They are now a Certified Cool Congregation at the level of 20% and above!
In the words of church member Steven Schafer,
Aldersgate UMC is minimizing its carbon footprint, which faces three major challenges: The original building had little insulation; multiple heating and cooling systems – some old and others relatively new – precluded a single solution, and funding was limited.
The original building of 6,000 square feet is constructed of uninsulated hollow core concrete bricks. The interior side of the concrete walls were especially cold in winter and made the building inefficient to heat and cool. The original building included four hotel-style PTAC units in classrooms, a recently installed commercial-sized gas furnace and air conditioner for the former sanctuary (now Fellowship Hall), and an aging residential-sized gas furnace and air conditioner for the office area.
A later addition of 2,000 square feet (Sunshine Room) had adequate insulation, but the all-electric heating units and air conditioners were 30 years old and inefficient.
Only the new sanctuary (4,000 square feet) constructed in 1996 has both adequate insulation and up-to-date heating and cooling systems.
Several factors motivated the energy conservation project. These included environmental concerns, the need to spend less on utility bills, and improving the usability of several rooms that were hard to heat and very cold in the winter because of uninsulated concrete walls.
The energy conservation measures described in this application are part of a longer-term effort to conserve energy and benefit the environment. In 2015, the church replaced most of its lights with LED lamps, and the next year, we replaced the main entrance doors to the church. A hailstorm in 2016 badly damaged the church’s roof, which insurance replaced. The new flat roof included an additional 1” of rigid insulation, and Aldersgate UMC replaced exhaust fans in four bathrooms that were inefficient at exhausting air but provided large openings through the roof that allowed a direct pathway for unconditioned air. In 2016, we also installed new glass doors to replace the original drafty front doors. In 2018, we also replaced one of two 30-year-old electric heating and AC systems serving the 2,000 square foot first addition. The new heat pump and electric furnace are far more efficient.
From 2019 through 2021, we have accomplished the following:
- Installed an exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) to 130 linear feet of concrete walls. This represents 75% of the exterior walls of the original building. The EIFS includes 2” of rigid insulation covered by a durable stucco finish.
- Replaced 4 windows.
- Replaced four PTAC units, a gas furnace, and 25-year-old air conditioner (SEER: 9) with three high-efficiency heat pumps (with a SEER of 19) and mini-split system that now provide the heating and cooling for about 2,750 square feet of space.
The parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) serves as inspiration. Our building and grounds are a resource that should yield as much value as possible. This includes allowing others to use the building and grounds, converting the grounds to a mini-park and playground for the neighborhood, and reducing the church’s impact on the environment.”