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Oak Park Church Sets Green Example

Posted: October 1 2014 at 02:45 PM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt, Dir. of Communications


With the help from an Illinois Clean Energy Community Fund grant of $76,000, Euclid Ave UMC installed 99 rooftop solar panels over the summer.

Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church in Oak Park, Ill., has taken another step to reduce its carbon footprint and energy bills with the installation of a new rooftop solar power system that will generate and supply electricity to its building.

“This is one of the greenest buildings in the denomination,” said Bishop Sally Dyck who applauded the church’s earth-friendly efforts at an Aug. 22 dedication ceremony.

The church needed an overhaul of its flat roof and with the help from an Illinois Clean Energy Community Fund grant of $76,000, they concurrently installed 99 rooftop solar panels over the summer. The panels produce 40,000 to 43,000 kWh per year, which will add up to a 27% savings in electrical usage for the building and its users.

The church’s Green Action Team says it will save them more than $146,000 over 25 years and will replace green house emissions by 687 tons of CO2 or like planting 27,472 trees. Bishop Dyck joined other dignitaries including emcee Lisa Parker, NBC-5 reporter and member of the congregation, State Senator Don Harmon, U.S. Congressman Danny Davis (D-Illinois), and several Oak Park Village Board members at the dedication and blessing of the new solar power system.

“Congregations which try to do something more green are often in buildings that are relatively new,” Dyck said. “The fact that you did it with an older building, it should be great hope, inspiration and a little kick in the ‘you know what’ to other congregations to do these kinds of things.”

Back in 2011, the church installed a geothermal heating and cooling system, which has reduced energy consumption by 81%. Additionally, crews put in a new parking lot with permeable bricks which return water and snow runoff to the ground. Bishop Dyck says Euclid’s actions are an investment in our future.

“When you make these kinds of sacrifices, because green can be more expensive, you are being a good neighbor to those who come after us and you are impacting our world around us.”

Oak Park Village Trustee Bob Tucker commended Euclid UMC for leading the way in renewable energy in the community.

“With the addition of solar panels, this is a long-term sustainable congregation for hundreds of years into the future,” Tucker said. “It’s not just an investment in the church, but it’s also a social investment in our earth and in our children.”

Congressman Danny Davis quoted his father as often saying that he’d rather see a sermon than hear one. “I think what you are doing relative to the utilization of green energy is a demonstration of what that can be,” he told those gathered at the dedication.

“You are demonstrating that the usefulness of it can be done. Our earth is so important, let’s not destroy it unnecessarily and keep it intact as much as we possibly can. That’s what I see all of you doing.”

Bishop Dyck also helped bless a new butterfly garden outside the church building along Euclid Avenue. Volunteers planted more than 15 types of native butterfly-attracting plants around the church parking lot creating a certified monarch waystation. Experts say the garden will provide food and shelter for monarchs and other pollinators as they migrate from the United States to Mexico. The garden also benefits the local environment since native plants require less maintenance and require minimal watering.

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