An Energy Efficiency Journey with Calvary Baptist Church

The leaders and members of Calvary Baptist Church – a community staple in Salt Lake City – are “walking the talk” as good stewards of the earth. In partnership with Utah Clean Energy, the Calvary Baptist Church’s leadership and congregation members recently completed impactful energy efficiency upgrades to the Calvary Baptist Church facility as well as the homes of 15 congregation members around Salt Lake County. 

In late 2019, we finalized the project concept with Reverend France Davis, before his retirement as Pastor Calvary Baptist Church. Through this project the Utah Clean Energy team has had the pleasure of working with and getting to know Calvary’s Pastor, Dr. Oscar Moses and leadership from Calvary Baptist Church, to bring these energy saving projects to completion! 

Local Church Leads by Example 

The first phase of the project involved energy efficiency retrofits of the Calvary Baptist Church building. After an initial energy audit of the church facility, 50% of the church’s lighting was upgraded to energy-saving LEDs. This was followed-up by upgrading the church’s existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units with advanced controls that significantly reduce energy use. 

These upgrades are estimated to have the following impacts: 

  • Save 158,000 kWh of energy per year 
  • Cutting electricity bills by about $6,700 each year ($5,700 from improved HVAC efficiency and $1,000 for energy-saving lighting) 

Leveraging Local Incentives to Help Cover Costs 

By leveraging a $3,600 grant from the UMCOR EarthKeepers program, we helped Calvary Baptist Church access an additional $50,000 in efficiency rebates from Rocky Mountain Power. The church enrolled in two of the utility’s energy efficiency programs to make the upgrades: the Small Business Direct program for lighting and the Advanced Rooftop Controls program for HVAC systems. 

Congregation Members Get Energy Saving Upgrades 

The most exciting phase of the project kicked-off in January 2021 when Calvary Baptist Church announced to their members the opportunity to apply for no-cost home energy upgrades that were made possible through the UMCOR grant. Between March and May of 2021, Energy Experts (a local company that implements a residential “direct install” program for Dominion Energy’s Thermwise program made energy improvements to 15 congregant homes that were identified through an online application process. The 15 homes had a combination of attic insulation, air sealing, energy-saving LEDs, and smart thermostats installed at no cost.  

Below is a summary of the energy-saving home upgrades that congregation member participants received:  

  • All participants received air sealing improvements, which reduced air leakage in the homes by 12 to 34 percent. The average air leakage reduction across all 15 homes was 20 percent, and included air sealing around window and door frames, and gaps around plumbing and electrical wall penetrations. 
  • 10 people received attic insulation (7 received R19 insulation, 3 received R30 insulation) 
  • 8 people received 1 new Google Nest smart thermostat, and 1 person received 2 smart thermostats (1 for each of the 2 HVAC systems in their home)  
  • 13 participants received a total of 158 energy-saving LEDs in place of incandescent or CFL bulbs 

These home upgrades are estimated to have the following impacts: 

  • Save 31,439 kWh of energy per year 
  • Save 77,440 cubic feet of natural gas per year 
  • Save program participants an average of $224 per year on utility bills 
  • One participant is estimated to save $464 per year in reduced utility costs! 

Together, the church facility and congregant home upgrades are projected to avoid 130 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year. That’s the equivalent of 327,000 miles not driven by a typical passenger vehicle or over 14,600 gallons of gasoline not consumed. 

This effort is a tangible result of local communities coming together in the spirit of giving to build partnerships and address challenging problems. The project was made possible through an interfaith EarthKeeper grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Methodist congregations, including the local Christ United Methodist Church, contribute financially to the UMCOR program to support local and global grants that address pressing challenges including climate change and environmental justice. Former Utah Clean Energy board member and local EarthKeeper, Jay Vestal, planted the seeds that lead to this project.  

The Calvary Baptist Church project is another example of the incredible energy savings, financial savings and environmental benefits just waiting to be identified and captured in our homes and buildings. A relatively small amount of assistance from organizations like Utah Clean Energy with help from modest grants (like the one from UMCOR) can help community partners and homeowners, such as Calvary Baptist Church and its congregation members, access incentive programs that are not utilized as widely as they could be. Utah Clean Energy continues to advocate for and support additional efforts to increase participation in energy efficiency incentive programs for all Utahns, including underrepresented communities. 

Utah Clean Energy’s involvement in this project was supported by the Salt Lake City Department of Sustainability through our Empower SLC initiative.

AUTHOR

Aidan Garrity

AmeriCorps member

kevin emerson

Kevin Emerson, MSc

Director of Building Efficiency and Decarbonization

RELATED RESOURCES

Calvary Baptist Church

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