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Oak Park Church Goes Carbon Free

Posted: January 7 2021 at 01:13 PM
Author: Dick Alton, Euclid Avenue UMC and Interfaith Green Network


Carbonzero

The planet is heading into trouble as the West is burning and storms are increasing in the South. You can definitely say carbon products are wrecking the planet’s climate system. We need to stop spewing planet-warming gases. One of the keys is the de-carbonization of the U.S. electricity grid. Solar power is being called the new king in global energy markets and the cheapest source of electricity in history.

Oak Park’s Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church initiated their own decarbonization in 2014 when it first installed a geothermal heating and cooling system, reducing its carbon footprint by 80%. Euclid then installed a 99-panel solar photovoltaic system on its roof that reduced electricity usage from the grid by 27%.

Now, working with the Interfaith Green Network, Euclid has joined with other congregations to commit to Nexamp’s Community Solar program that, in principle, makes Euclid a net zero carbon building.

In addition to helping save the planet, the church is also saving its budget. In 2009, Euclid Avenue was paying $13,000 for gas and $7,000 for electricity. By 2014, gas and electricity charges had decreased from $20,000 to $11,500 annually. By adding new solar panels in 2014, electricity came in at $5,300 and gas $1,500 annually. Now the church is adding community solar, which will further reduce their energy bill. 

And this is just the building. The church is now asking the congregation members to take the leap and become a Community Solar project, which advertises that there are no panels to install, no cost to switch, and subscribers save up to 20% of their energy cost. Community Solar brings construction and other green energy-related jobs to low-employment regions of the state, and it supports Illinois farmers by paying them for their use of underutilized land.

Some may wonder if the church can claim ”net zero” since they are still paying $1,500/year for gas. The church has answered this concern by balancing this carbon emission and absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere by planting two trees and having a butterfly garden, a rain garden and two electric car-charging stations in their parking lot.

The Euclid Avenue UMC motto is “Love God, Live Green and Liberate All.” They are definitely living green and helping to liberate all, while noting that caring for Creation is loving God.
 

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