Church Energy Improvements, Part One


Through my work at LaGrange College on the Sustainability Council I’ve had several opportunities to learn about basic energy savings practices. My home has seen some (not all) of these energy saving practices, but I’m always on the lookout for smart ways to implement changes for efficiency. Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time in the church building where we worship. Natural curiosity ensued.  I attend the Broad Street Church of Christ.

Possible Church Energy Improvements

The building is clearly two structures:

  1. The original building. This space (auditorium, balcony, foyer, nursery, baptistry, and basement) is approximately 7,000-10,000 square feet and was built in the early 1960’s. Although renovated, this space still features stained-glass windows and has suffered many of the woes that old structures have, including building sag. This space is gas-heated but electrically cooled. More detail on the space, previous uses, etc., will be given later.
  2. The “new part”. With finished construction around 2009, this space is approximately 28,000 square feet of classroom, office spaces, gymnasium, restrooms, kitchen space, hallways, and utility closets.

The following images show just a few of the basic things I examined.


Church Energy Improvements Church Energy Improvements
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Figure 1: It’s pretty clear from these images that the air envelope is certainly not sealed. Unfortunately, these problems are in both the new and old portions of the building.

What makes the above images so disturbing is the blatant leakage. The two doors aren’t even making an attempt at keeping cold air out–only criminals. The doors in the bottom-right corner (above) are in the new building. This is representative of other outside-door leakage. The upper-right and lower-left images, although not immediately obvious, show the meeting edge of the ceiling/roof with the walls! Light pours in from the outside as well as cold and hot air.

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Figure 2:The bathrooms are equipped with standard-flow showerheads and aerators on the sinks. Those are easy targets.

The image of Figure 2 shows a standard-flow shower head; faucets are also standard flow. As in most church buildings, the bathroom faucets don’t see much use (mainly only Sunday AM and Wednesday PM). The showers see infrequent use (at best!). For only cost motivation, the replacement costs may not be worthwhile.

Below, the image of the sealed ductwork is gratifying. There’s plenty to be done.
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In future posts, I’ll annotate heating/cooling policies and energy usage analysis for the past year in order to visualize church energy improvements..

Continue on to Continued Church Energy Improvements.