At Gloria Dei

Gloria Dei earns Climate Justice Congregation status  in 2022

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church has been certified as a Climate Justice Congregation by Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL), a statewide climate justice organization representing thousands of people of faith and conscience. Gloria Dei joins an elite group of 24 congregations around the state taking strong and effective actions to address climate change.

MNIPL’s year-long certification program gives congregations the focus, resources and support to galvanize their community into powerful climate action. Once a year, they also reflect on successes, struggles, and new knowledge gained from their experience. More information about MNIPL’s certification program is found here.

Environmental-focused actions taken by the Gloria Dei’s Caring for Creation team over the 2021-22 time frame included:

– Purchasing less dense paper for printing the church bulletins saving on use of timber resources and money.

– Getting 100 percent of its electricity from clean renewables through Xcel Energy’s Windsource program as of February 2022.

– Recycling church pews taken out for the sanctuary remodeling project. About 10 pews were taken home by church members. Most were given by Better Futures, a non-profit that employs men who have been chronically homeless or had mental health challenges to repurpose, recycle or reuse materials.

– Saving miscellaneous renovation materials from the landfill including brick, marble, and doors which were repurposed into other parts of the project.

– Encouraging church members to contact their state representatives to dedicate part of the state’s budget surplus to climate improvement.

– Assisting with a four-week Sunday school lesson on being a good steward, which included a review of recycling principles and the need to recognize and protect pollinators.

– Providing opportunities for children to make beeswax food wraps to learn about the delicate balance humans have with bees, recognizing God’s beautiful creation and our role to care for it. The biodegradable wraps could be used over and over, replacing single-use plastic wrap.

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.

  1. Reprogrammed air handler fan drives to run on auto mode, allowing the timeclocks to turn off the units during off hours.
  2. Replaced all remaining fluorescent lights with energy-saving LEDs.
  3. Completed a steam trap audit, with repairs and replacement scheduled for 2021.
  4. Performed a boiler tune-up.
  5. 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


1 4,174 2,221 6,395 89,805
2 4,616 0 4,616 22,708
3 0 2,679 2,679 54,217
4 0 674 674 13,677
5 69 226 295 5,314
Totals 8,859 14,659 12,378 185,721
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.

Rain Gardens

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.