The replacement of a boiler or furnace, or of lighting in our congregations, is never a fun event. It requires a lot of work. It is expensive. And it never happens at a “convenient” time.
Most of the congregations in our diocese, like congregations across the country, only make these changes after their existing systems have failed. Here at the diocese, we are no strangers to calls from frantic clergy and wardens saying, “Our boiler doesn’t work anymore, and it’s freezing in our church. HELP!”
In the past, the diocese has sought to help with these emergency replacements to the greatest of our ability, through the Ward J. Herbert Fund and other means; these funds, however, are restricted for replacing boilers that have failed and no longer work. But there are two problems with the emergency replacement approach.
First, when equipment is replaced in this way, congregations often end up with new equipment that is not as efficient as it should be, which in turn saddles the congregation with higher operating costs for decades. The cost of operating a heating system over 30 years is far higher than the initial purchase price. This means that, unintentionally, the emergency replacement approach saddles our churches with expenses that are significantly higher than need be. And, these less efficient replacements generate more air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, which runs counter to our Christian commitment to be good stewards of God’s creation.
Second, the state of NJ and our state’s utilities offer a range of rebates and incentives for energy efficient heating and cooling equipment which can cover up to 70% of the cost of this new equipment outright. However, only a certain number of vendors are approved by the state to utilize these substantial incentive funds. Our congregations rarely know about these incentives, and end up paying far more for their new equipment than they should.
In addition, rebates and incentives are available for the installation of new, energy-efficient lighting systems. The Ward J. Herbert Fund cannot fund those types of projects.
In partnership with GreenFaith, the diocese is creating a new approach to addressing this issue by creating a Green Revolving Fund (GRF). Through the fund, we will work with congregations to identify opportunities for proactive replacement of old, near-failing boilers and furnaces with new, energy efficient models, and to install energy-efficient lighting systems. We will secure the maximum level of incentive and rebate funding possible, and use the GRF to finance part or all of the remaining expense at a modest rate of interest. The congregation will get a new, efficient heating system, more energy-efficient lighting, energy management training, and energy savings that will generate the funds needed to repay the loan while also keeping the congregation cash-flow positive from the start.
This opportunity is described in the memo that I have attached, and I hope you will consider this seriously. With the winter season nearly upon us, we want to get this program running as soon as possible.
If your church is interested in being part of the pilot cohort of congregations that utilize the GRF, please contact Jim Caputo as firstname.lastname@example.org or 973 430-9979 by October 28th.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Mark M. Beckwith