2013 Cool Congregation Challenge
Energy Saver Winner
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church
Overland Park, KS
“Peace and justice is God’s plan for all creation.
The earth and all creation are God’s.
God calls us to be careful, humble stewards of this earth, and to
protect and restore it for its own sake, and for the future use and
enjoyment of the human family.”
– Earth Care Pledge of Presbyterian Church USA
As an Earth Care Congregation, the challenge for Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church (GCPC ) was to manage, maintain and upgrade its facilities while respecting and cherishing all creation, human and non-human. In its buildings and on its grounds, Grace “uses energy efficiently, conserves resources, and shares what it has in abundance so that God’s holy creation will be sustainable for all life and future generations.”
As with most buildings, the cost of lighting its facility is over 25% of its total electrical energy use. Grace and its family members, experiencing the recent downturn of the economy, found that its budget was not quite covering its call to care for others. The congregation was trying to make ends meet with less stretch in the budget.
Grace’s KAIROS: Peace, Justice and Environment Team opted to do a lighting project in two phases and self-fund the project through an ‘Adopt a Light’ appeal. Grace applied for and received a small seed grant from Presbyterian Environmental Action Ministries. Launching its project to the congregation through postings in the newsletter, Sunday morning bulletins and announcements, it raised the funds and installed Phase 1 within two months, while continuing to encourage Adopt-a-Light to fund Phase 2.
The Adopt a Light campaign is a lighting retrofit project that saves energy as a result of changing the T-12 lighting to T-8. It also addresses the facility’s need to have correct lighting because T-12 lights are being phased out. A retrofit kit was identified that could be used to replace the 309 Troffer overhead lights’ magnetic ballasts and old T-12 tubes with new electronic ballasts, energy efficient T-8 fluorescent tubes and adding a reflector for better light quality. All other wires, metal and parts were recycled at the local recycling facility.
Thirty-six volunteer congregational members donated labor with the electrical connections completed by a licensed electrician. Some of the replaced T-12 tubes were stored as replacements for the fixtures identified for replacement in Phase 2, and all remaining T-12’s were donated to other faith congregations, Kansas Interfaith Power & Light, and Habitat for Humanity.
The project is saving $3,800 and 22.5 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, per year, and yielding a 15% carbon footprint reduction.
The first phase was funded within two months, installed within six months, and the second phase was funded in advance and final retrofit was accomplished a year ahead of schedule! Grace was able to demonstrate how to retrofit existing fixtures for energy efficiency resulting in lower utility bills. With these utility cost savings, an estimated 10% annual return on the investment of the retrofit, GCPC can shift funds to other budget areas deemed important to the congregation, such as outreach and hunger projects and new sustainability initiatives.
GCPC has since become a demonstration site for local faith facilities and Kansas Interfaith Power & Light.