By Rev. Robin Blakeman
So, after hearing Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelley’s presentation during the November Presbytery meeting, you want to save money on energy usage in your church? I am here to provide you with some information to get started. Many of you know me from my work with the Stewardship of Creation Ministry Team; I am also now the Director of Energy Efficient WV and a steering committee member of WV Interfaith Power and Light. Both organizations have informational resources to share regarding energy efficiency, renewable energy, and land/property stewardship.
For starters, you might want to initiate the process of registering your congregation as a PCUSA Earth-Care congregation; this process will help you start to evaluate the energy efficiency of your building, suggest enhancements you can make to the grounds around your building and many other facets of stewardship for the property that God has blessed you with for your worship and Christian education space. More information here: https://www.pcusa.org/resource/earth-care-congregations-a-guide-to-greening-19772/
Here are some resources that will help you go deeper into these processes:
A basic understanding of the energy codes in your area and of the fundamentals for how to “benchmark” – or track and gauge energy usage in a building – can be helpful; here are two resources that contain that information.
- Energy Code Primer: https://www.downstreamstrategies.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/West-Virginia-Energy-Code-Primer.pdf
- Benchmarking Primer: https://www.downstreamstrategies.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/BenchmarkingReport.pdf
Here is another faith-based resource – from Interfaith Power and Light – designed to help you get started with energy efficiency enhancement in your facility: https://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/energy-efficiency-guide-for-congregations/
Did you know that Interfaith Power and Light also has a certification program for churches who actively engage in creation care and energy efficiency planning? It’s called “Cool Congregations,” and you can find out more here: https://www.coolcongregations.org/ There is an annual “challenge” program within Cool Congregations that could result in a cash reward for a project your congregation engages in. I can help you find out more, as well as share information about the upcoming Faith, Climate Action Week resources that are available from IPL.
It may be necessary to call in a professional to evaluate your facility; if you need help finding a reputable WV professional to help you with the process, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be glad to assist you in finding the help you need.
If considering a solar or other type of renewable energy installation at your facility, please know that energy efficiency upgrades will help you get the most out of those investments, so you should do those first.
Here are some West Virginia based groups and installation companies that could be helpful if/when your congregation becomes serious about a solar energy project:
Information and advice
WV Solar United Neighbors: https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/westvirginia/
Estimates and Installation
Solar Holler: https://www.solarholler.com/ (This company installed both Spencer and Glenville Presbyterian Churches’ solar arrays.)
Mountainview Solar: https://mtvsolar.com/
Revolt Energy: https://revolt-energy.com/
Low-Interest Loans for Energy Efficiency Improvements
Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program: https://pilp.pcusa.org/restoring-creation-loan/
If you are looking to conduct a mini-capital campaign of $150K or less, reach out to Ellie Johns-Kelley at the Presbyterian Foundation for a referral for complimentary capital campaign consulting over the phone with elder John Wray, provided by the Foundation. Contact her at Ellie.Johns-Kelley@PresbyterianFoundation.org or 855-251-8212.
If there are specific questions or you need other information not listed here, please feel free to contact me. I love to hear about congregations who are taking energy efficiency and other creation stewardship measures, and I will do everything in my power to assist you on this journey.
Rev. Robin Blakeman is a WV Interfaith Power and Light Steering Committee member, a WV Council of Churches Government Concerns program unit member, and the Executive Director of Energy Efficient West Virginia. Reach her at email@example.com or for her work with EEWV at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-840-4877.