ATLANTA: Monroe parish one of 5 nationwide to win Environmental Protection Agency award

October 3, 2010

St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Monroe, Georgia, has been named one of five winners of the 2010 Energy Star Congregations Awards made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Winners are recognized for fighting global warming through effective energy management practices and innovative efficiency solutions.

St. Alban's saves more than $1,800 annually in energy costs for the operation of its worship space. The savings of nearly 70,000 kilowatt-hours per year represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the carbon-dioxide emissions from the electricity use of more than five homes.

"This award to St. Alban's is a very big deal," said Stan Meiberg, chair of the Diocese of Atlanta Commission on Environmental Stewardship. "Only five congregations [nationwide] received this award in 2010. For the Southeast Region of the EPA, this is only the second congregation named, and it's the first in Georgia. I believe that this is only the second Episcopal congregation to receive the award."

Meiberg, who works for the EPA, was part of a Sept. 26 ceremony when a plaque was presented to the people of St. Alban's and their rector, the Rev. Brent Owens. Also present were Henry Slack of EPA's Energy Star program and Bob Donahue and the Rev. Woody Bartlett of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. Frank Roth, a member of St. Alban's, accepted the award. Winners were announced nationally Sept. 22.

According to EPA, this year's winning congregations reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from the average electricity use of nearly 650 homes for one year, and saved more than $850,500 in annual energy costs.

St. Alban's made a variety of improvements to the 50-year-old building. "We added insulation and changed lighting from incandescent to compact-fluorescent bulbs," said Frank Roth, who was the first St. Alban's parishioner to volunteer for the Diocese of Atlanta Creation Keepers Network and has spearheaded the congregation's conservation effort.

Roth noted that one office -- the rector's -- was relocated so that portions of the building unused during the week didn't have to be heated or cooled. "This substantially reduced HVAC expenses," he said. "Smaller, but significant, improvements included adding timers to water fountains, weather stripping and caulk. Landscaping also was upgraded to include large areas of mulch to reduce mowing and water."

Owens said the church is saving approximately $150 a month on electricity alone. "For a church our size, an overall savings of $1,800 a year can balance a budget or help support a new program." Owens added. "We also look at all our improvements as educational for our member families." A "kill-a-watt" meter and expertise have been made available to help make changes at home.

Roth, a retired computer engineer, said learning that his parish was a winner of the EPA award was "really exciting. A lot of people participated in this. Everybody has been looking out for ways to save. And we have the Diocese of Atlanta, the Creation Keepers and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light to thank for all their help."

Complete details about St. Alban's energy saving efforts, as well as the efforts of other winners, can be found here by clicking on "Award Winners."

"EPA is pleased to recognize St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Monroe for its leadership in addressing climate change through greater energy efficiency," said Jean Lupinacci, chief of Energy Star for Commercial and Industrial Buildings. "As it takes steps to decrease its carbon footprint, this congregation is showing its community that everyone can play a role in the fight against global warming."

Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. In 2009 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved about $17 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 30 million vehicles.