Brief history of Caring for Creation (environmental) improvements incorporated into building projects at Gloria Dei
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church intentionally incorporated Caring for Creation (environmental) improvements into each of its recent large capital and smaller projects. The church was built on the existing site in the early 1950s. Heating and cooling systems, insulation, material selection such as lead paint and asbestos tiling, and a variety of interior and exterior opportunities were addressed where feasible during the last 20 years and continue to be addressed in both it’s annual and capital budget decisions.
Starting with the addition of the Gathering Place building in 2002, energy efficiency was addressed by using better R-value rated windows, increased insulation and adding a more efficient separate HVAC system. Integrated energy controls and LED lighting are now part this space. The church made a carefully considered decision to have a slate roof on this building, both for its aesthetics and 100-year life span. In 2013, the broken slate on the 1950s building was replaced and a new gutter system installed. The existing tile was removed from the lower level roofing of the 1960s addition so that rigid insulation could be installed. It was then put back with new tiles added only as needed.
The windows in the Youth Room were replaced with more efficient models and higher R-value insulation was installed over the sanctuary and in the office wing. LED lighting was expanded to more areas of the GDLC complex. And more recently, in 2017, during a major waterproofing project of the Colonial Room and Choir Room, additional structural foundation work was required for stabilization. Steam pipes and traps were replaced to address fugitive energy loss. And this is when GDLC obtained a grant from the Capital Region Watershed District to put in our beautiful rain gardens and control drainage from our parking lot.
Caring for Creation 2020 Update on Energy Use Reduction Projects
When the COVID-19 shutdown occurred, Gloria Dei locked its doors, turned off the boilers and shut off all unnecessary electricity demands. Beverly Sargent, Director of Finance and Administration, and Clayton Gardner, new-to-GDLC Maintenance Supervisor, quickly noted that we were not seeing energy cost reductions as anticipated and dug in. With the help of a 2017 energy audit, its corresponding 2020 update and the one-on-one support from Mark Ginsbach, Enerchange, they put the following changes into place from October through December 2020.
- Reprogrammed air handler fan drives to run on auto mode, allowing the timeclocks to turn off the units during off hours.
- Replaced all remaining fluorescent lights with energy-saving LEDs.
- Completed a steam trap audit, with repairs and replacement scheduled for 2021.
- Performed a boiler tune-up.
- Will place a timer on the hot water circulation pump in 2021.
This work is in keeping with our Caring for Creation values. Below are estimated annual energy and cost savings (starting in 2021).
|Change#||Electric Savings ($)||Gas Savings ($)||Total Savings ($)||CO2 Equiv
|185,721 lbs of CO2 is the amount generated by burning 9,479 gallons of gasoline.|
Storm Water Conservation
When Gloria Dei updated its parking lot in 2016, the project included a complete overhaul of our storm water run-off system. Beneath our new parking lot are storm water retention pipes that are 5 feet in diameter and permeated with thousands of holes. Deep trenches were dug throughout the lot and these pipes were laid on a foundation of rock, linked together with large brackets, wrapped in a black mesh fabric, and then more stone was filled in around each pipe. These pipes serve as a holding tank and with heavy rains or other run-off, the water sits or holds in these large pipes to allow filtering into the groundwater instead of running into the main storm sewer system.
Gloria Dei incorporated rain gardens as part of its major 2016 exterior improvement program. Our rain gardens collect rainwater runoff and filter the water, thus reducing pollutants that would otherwise enter storm sewers that go directly to the Mississippi River. Our gardens are located on the northwest and southeast side of the property and are full of diverse and colorful deep root plants. The Caring for Creation Team thanks all of the people at Gloria Dei who helped this become a reality.
Exploring Geothermal Energy Options
During 2017, Gloria Dei’s Caring for Creation Team met with Jeff Harris, the engineering consultant from HGA, to discuss this option. HGA participated in our 2015 exterior capital programs. At this time, geothermal would be very expensive, require rework of the parking lot, require the installation of new heating units and address only a portion of our energy needs. In other words, it is not considered to have a good return on investment based on rough cost estimates, especially in light of still needing to run a boiler. This consideration actually highlighted that Gloria Dei will need to invest in a more efficient furnace at some time in the future, as the current one is from the 1950s.
Exploring Solar Energy Options
In January 2018, Gloria Dei’s Caring for Creation Team received an estimate from Forteva Solar for a solar array to cover the south-facing roof of the Youth room. (A large system covering all of our building’s south-facing roofs was not pursued. A separate parking lot structure was received but dismissed by the team at this time as being too cost prohibitive.) The Youth room solar estimate would produce approximately 5% of our electricity, generate 14,000 kWh of solar per year at a savings of $1620 per year and offset 27,000 lbs. of CO2 emission per year. The payback is between 10 and 14 years and the cost is reduced by assuming Excel Energy incentives. The team will be studying this and other “capital” options listed in the energy audit during the year.