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Going Green: A Matter of Faith for Ohio Churches

PHOTO: As some churches around Ohio make steps to become energy efficient, First Presbyterian Church of Athens has received an EPA award for its efforts. Photo courtesy of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.
PHOTO: As some churches around Ohio make steps to become energy efficient, First Presbyterian Church of Athens has received an EPA award for its efforts. Photo courtesy of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light.
November 19, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - "Going green" is a matter of faith for some houses of worship in Ohio. They are implementing measures that save money and help the environment. At First Presbyterian Church of Athens, Pastor Rob Martin says addressing greenhouses gases that lead to climate change seems like an overwhelming challenge, from a global perspective. But he says if each person takes simple steps to reduce energy use, it will add up and make a difference.

"We looked at it from a theological perspective of caring for creation, that we're called to find out ways we can have more sustainable kinds of energy use in our daily lives," he says

First Presbyterian Church of Athens was recognized for its energy-efficiency efforts in the Environmental Protection Agency's 2013 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition. Martin says they reduced energy use 20 percent for the past 12 months and in the process, prevented an estimated 9.2 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

With the assistance of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, as well as Columbia Gas and AEP Ohio, Martin says his church used a variety of strategies to reduce energy use.

"We were fortunate enough to partner with the local utilities companies to help pay for the audit and then also help pay for the upgrades," he says "We discovered we could save money if we purchased a new boiler system, changed our lights over to LED lights, and did some insulating around some windows."

Martin says the energy-efficiency steps they are taking at the church are inspiring members of the congregation to look at ways they can save energy in their own lives.

"People have asked us questions about, 'Is that something I can do in my own home; is this something I could even do in my own business?' So, I think we're looking to the future in terms of just getting the word out," says Martin.

The Pastor adds, they will continue to look for ways to reduce energy consumption and hope to share their knowledge with other congregations. Energy use in commercial buildings is estimated to account for almost 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH