December 15, 2010- Today, the Mt. Washington United Methodist Church (UMC) became the first nonprofit to complete the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) efficiency program, benefiting from GCEA’s building assessment expertise and receiving a $21,200 dollar grant toward the $40,200 total improvement project. In March of this year, Mt. Washington UMC received a call from the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church about the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance nonprofit program. At the time, GCEA was participating in the Mt. Washington Neighborhood Enhancement Program, in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, and after attending a presentation on March 23rd at McNicholas High School, Mt. Washington UMC signed up when it learned about the new energy saving opportunity available through GCEA.
The Energy Assessment
The first step to becoming energy efficient is learning about the performance and energy consumption of a building. Reverend Rick Riggs, Pastor of Mt. Washington UMC, had an energy assessment with a GCEA approved contractor, Monroe Mechanical, which analyzed energy saving opportunities including lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. In addition to performing a building energy assessment, GCEA’s contractor completed an analysis of energy use over the last three years and found that the forty five year-old Mt. Washington UMC building had numerous energy saving opportunities.
“Because of this grant we will be able to use money that would have gone to our utility bills to instead go to ministry to make a positive difference for Christ in people’s lives.” – Pastor Riggs
With an investment of $40,200 dollars, Mt. Washington UMC could reduce its annual lighting electricity use by 35%, heating use by 25%, and cooling use by 25%. In five years, the combined investment from the Ohio River Valley District of the United Methodist Church and GCEA is expected to be paid off, and Mt. Washington UMC will save an average of $8,000 per year over the life of the installed equipment.
Mt. Washington UMC’s efficiency project initially stalled because it lacked the capital for the remaining project balance. But the church’s luck changed when Pastor Riggs received an email from Galen Mills, a member of the Missions Foundation of the Ohio River Valley District of the United Methodist Church. “Like a gift from God”, explained Pastor Riggs in regards to the donation offered by the Ohio River Valley District of the United Methodist Church, which provides grant money for churches to do various projects. Galen Mills shared his enthusiasm for the project remarking that, “God expects all of us to be good stewards of what He has provided. We are very grateful the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance made it possible for the Missions Foundation to partner with them and the Mt. Washington United Methodist Church to bring about permanent reductions in energy consumption and energy costs.”
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance brought in Monroe Mechanical to install 125 light fixtures with t-8 fluorescents, replace a twelve year old boiler with a 96% efficient boiler, and exchange outdated air conditioner equipment. Mt. Washington UMC also had incurred expenses in 2010 including the need to replace its roof, change half of the building’s boiler heating piping, install a new A/C unit, a hot water heater, and repair a furnace. The savings from the energy efficiency improvements will also benefit UMC by helping to offset these unexpected expenses.
Partnerships for Good
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance has teamed up with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light and Artswave (formerly the Fine Arts Fund) to increase energy efficiency for local religious and arts & culture organizations. Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and an active member of other nonprofit organizations views the program as an excellent way to support the community. Mr. Holzhauser shared that, “GCEA is committed to helping non-profit organizations reduce their energy costs through education, technical assistance, and financing programs. This frees more resources for their organization’s mission.”
While Mt. Washington UMC’s energy efficiency project will make its facilities more comfortable, more efficient, and at the same time reduce its annual utilities, Pastor Riggs offered a deeper reason for taking action:
“We believe everything comes from God, and we are to be good stewards of everything, especially our resources and the environment.”