GreenFaith, the interfaith environmental organization that has worked with churches in the diocese for many years, has been working with 26 of the Diocese of Newark's churches since fall 2014 through the Energy Services Program – an “energy makeover” for faith communities statewide.
The program provides participants access to energy audits and upgrades of outdated and inefficient lighting and heating/cooling systems. The audits are free and the state of New Jersey provides generous incentives to pay up to 70% of the project costs.
Energy efficiency retrofits are only one of the services that the program provides. Participants can also get their building evaluated for a solar installation, receive energy management training for their green team, and get a quote from a third-party provider of electricity, at lower price than current utility charges.
Grace Church in Rutherford is one of the churches that is reaping big benefits from the program. The Rev. Robert Browning, the Priest-in-Charge, was the driving force for getting his church involved in the program and pushing for action. “Before coming here to Grace Church, I served at St Andrew’s in Poughkeepsie, NY,” he said. “When I was there, we upgraded the lighting and the old furnace, taking advantage of similar incentive programs from the State of New York and saw the savings. When I got here, I knew we needed to do the same thing to lower our energy costs at Grace Church.”
Most of Grace, Rutherford’s buildings are over one hundred years old and church leaders recognized the need for upgrades and renovation. “You need to maintain your building and the GreenFaith Energy Services Program gave us the little extra push that was needed,” Browning said.
Grace, Rutherford received a $72,000 grant from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program for undertaking the energy efficiency retrofit of their facility. The church installed LED lighting throughout the building and upgraded eight of their old heating units. They also replaced four of their air-conditioning systems and are eager to work with GreenFaith to measure and verify the savings generated from these upgrades. “The whole process was very easy, because a state certified contractor handled the whole project from beginning to end. They did a great presentation to our board and explained how we will be able to substantially lower our energy use with more efficient lighting and HVAC systems,“ said Browning.
The church staff is very pleased with the new LED lighting, “It uses fraction of the energy compared to incandescent lights and the amount of lighting is better than before,” said Browning during a tour of their meeting rooms. “We will eventually change the lights in the sanctuary to LEDs as well,” he added.
GreenFaith is working with other congregations across the diocese, helping them take steps to lower their energy use and carbon footprint. If you would like to learn more, email Anne Rahikainen, GreenFaith Energy Services Program Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.