Why More Churches Are Building Green
By: Bruce Brown
Today, many churches are building green, environmentally-friendly worship centers and auxiliary buildings. Churches are building green structures for the same reasons commercial and industrial builders— it simply makes sense.
Choosing building products with the smallest possible environmental impact is the primary goal of all green building, including religious facilities.
3 Reasons Churches Are Going Green
1. ENVIRONMENTAL-CONSCIOUS CONGREGATIONS
3. FINANCIAL REWARDS
3 Tips for Planning Church Buildings
Diverse expectations and tastes often collide. Finding a consensus sometimes takes the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the persistence of Nehemiah.
Following these guidelines will help prepare the church for pursuing a green building project.
1. THINK AHEAD
2. DEFINE PARAMETERS
3. BEGIN EARLY
Churches Are Building Green With Steel
* Steel is the most recycled material in the world. It never loses strength— regardless of how many times it is recycled.
* Pre-engineered steel buildings capitalize on the strength of steel. With steel, fewer pieces builder a stronger structure than other building materials.
* Framing created in a quality-controlled factory ships directly to the site, ready to assemble.
* A well-insulated steel church building slashes energy costs. In addition, steel buildings create tighter structures which reduce energy loss.
Simple Ways to Cut Energy Expenses at Your Worship Facility
Begin with an energy audit to evaluate your facility's current energy expenditures.
* SEAL THE ENVELOPE. Check to make sure all windows and doors seal tightly. A little caulking and weather-stripping go a long way to eliminate air leaks in the building envelope.
* SEAL LEAKY DUCTS. Check air ducts for leaks. Seal where needed.
* ADJUST THE THERMOSTAT. In winter, lower the thermostat when the building is unoccupied. In summer, raise the thermostat during vacancy. According to government experts, changing the thermostat by one degree for at least eight hours saves about one percent on the utility bill. Adjusting the thermostat by five degrees or ten degrees should save about five to ten percent. Programmable thermostats make controlling temperature easier.
* CHANGE FILTERS. Replace air conditioning and heating unit filters monthly for maximum efficiency. Clogged filters reduce airflow, forcing the units to struggle and use more energy.
* ADD CEILING FANS. Ceiling fans use only about 60 watts of electricity. Air conditioners devour 3,500 watts or more. Use ceiling fans only when the room is occupied. Set the fans to circulate air down in summer and up in winter.
* CLOSE VENTS. Shut air vents in any seldom-used rooms.
* LIGHTS OUT. Always turn off the lights when a room is unoccupied. Encourage church staff and parishioners to do the same. Install occupancy sensors in smaller rooms like offices and classrooms. Reduce outside lighting to a safe minimum.
* EFFICIENT LIGHTING. Compact florescent light bulbs (CFL) produce the same amount of light as regular bulbs but use much less electricity. CFL bulbs also last up to ten times longer than ordinary inefficient bulbs. Use LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights in all exit signs.
* DIMMER SWITCHES. You need less artificial light in the daytime in a room with windows. Installing dimmer switches allows you to adjust the lighting accordingly, reducing the energy expended.
* WATER HEATER. Set water heaters between 120 degrees and 130 degrees for maximum efficiency.
* UNPLUG. Small amounts of energy are lost when appliances and electronics are turned off, but still plugged in. Unplug computers, peripherals, and other office equipment when not in use to reduce energy waste.
* CHANGE SCHEDULES. Combine activities to cut the worship facility's occupied hours. Reschedule janitorial services from night to daytime to decrease hours of operation and cut energy use.
* REPLACING EQUIPMENT. When air conditioning, heating, water heaters, dishwashers, fax machines, copiers and other equipment needs replacing, choose high-performance models. Compare the Energy Star ratings to find the most energy-efficient model.
* FROM THE TOP. In hot climates, consider exchanging dark colored roofing for a lighter colored roof. Consider highly reflective cool-coated steel roofing. Cool-coated roofing lasts longer — and potentially saves 15 percent on summer energy costs.
Bruce Brown is the chief executive officer of RHINO Steel Building Systems, www.rhinobldg.com.