Here are some of the ways Gloria Dei is working to reduce its environmental footprint.
Energy Audit Performed at GDLC
In November 2017, the Gloria Dei Caring for Creation Team arranged for an energy audit of our facility. Care Team members, members of our custodial staff, and representatives from EnerChange, a nonprofit organization that helps churches reduce energy bills, participated. EnerChange received the historical usage data of the church from Xcel Energy to prepare for the onsite visit. Shout out to Jeff Barth, Gloria Dei’s Lead Custodian for his guidance during the audit.
GDLC’s Facilities Team, under the leadership of Steve Teipel, has communicated that the following five audit recommendations will be performed during 2018: boiler tune-up, replacing steam traps, insulating hot pipes, insulating boiler equipment and door and window sealing. The EnerChange audit estimates $1400 in gas savings.
When Gloria Dei updated its parking lot in 2016, the project included a complete overhaul of our stormwater run-off system. Beneath our new parking lot are stormwater 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 1950’s.
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. Stay tuned for updates!