Bethel Lutheran Church, located in University City, is the first worship facility to earn ENERGY STAR Certification in Missouri. ENERGY STAR Certification recognizes efficient energy use in buildings. With an ENERGY STAR score of 81, Bethel Lutheran Church outperforms 81 percent of worship facilities nationwide. Their energy achievements are due to many years of work by the church’s Green Team, which has spearheaded their environmental ministry of caring for creation.
In 2010, Bethel became a Green Congregation working with the national Lutherans Restoring Creation (LRC) program. Since 2013, Bethel has been working to increase their energy efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint, and save money through the LRC’s Energy Stewards initiative. As a participating congregation, they began to measure their energy use in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool that allows buildings to benchmark their energy use. Their initial results left plenty of room for improvement; they found that their baseline ENERGY STAR score was 36, well below average.
Bethel Lutheran Church conducted an energy audit in September 2013, and since that time their Board of Property and Maintenance has been working faithfully to implement big and small building improvements. These improvements include low and no cost changes such as sealing gaps around doors, as well as projects that required more investment but paid off with energy savings, including installing LED porch lights, installation of new heat pumps, furnace, and AC units, replacing windows, and transitioning to a zoned heating approach to reduce dependence on an old boiler. Bethel Lutheran installed solar panels in 2014.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the energy used by buildings in the United States is responsible for almost 40% of our national greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing their energy use, Bethel Lutheran Church not only lowered their energy bills, they reduced the environmental impacts associated with energy use, thus lowering their impact on regional air quality and global climate change.
“We are so inspired by Bethel Lutheran’s ENERGY STAR Certification. They are living their commitment to care for all of God’s creation,” stated Tracey Howe-Koch, coordinator of Missouri Interfaith Power and Light, a religious response to climate change. “By increasing their sanctuary’s energy efficiency, they are helping to ensure future generations are able to enjoy all that has been given to us. At Missouri Interfaith Power & Light we believe that people of faith are morally obligated to be good stewards of the environment. Bethel Lutheran is faithfully carrying out this charge and is a wonderful example of the impact one congregation can have.”
Volunteers with U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter verified Bethel Lutheran’s ENERGY STAR application. Led by licensed architect Linda Daniel, volunteers confirmed that Bethel Lutheran’s energy and building data was correct and that the building meets EPA’s Indoor Environmental Quality and Thermal Comfort standards. Linda stated “As a volunteer, it is exciting to work with building owners as their facility begins to perform better, their energy costs go down, and they reduce their carbon footprint. It was an honor to work with this congregation. Bethel Lutheran has diligently worked over several years to earn this certification, and it’s my understanding that they intend to continue working to reduce their energy use.”
Bethel Lutheran Church, a member church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, located in University City, Missouri, is a worshipping community that has set as its mission to work toward a sustainable relationship with our earth home, to follow the non-violent witness of Jesus and work for the restoration of life for those threatened and diminished by violence, and to be in dialogue and community with many in a multi-cultural and multi-religious world, globally connected in our need and compassion.
U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter (USGBC-MGC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community of members, advocates, and practitioners that give voice to our commitment to improve human health, support economies, and protect the environment through green buildings.
Missouri Interfaith Power & Light (MO IPL) is a religious response to global warming and aims to engage, equip, and educate Missouri faith communities to be stewards of God’s creation by addressing the environmental and social justice consequences of climate change.
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helping businesses and individuals save energy and fight climate change through superior energy efficiency.