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The members of Grace Church's 'Green Team' stand in front of the potted plants on the church's Altar in Honesdale, PA.
When you think of “going green” does the word “expensive” pop into your mind? One Wayne County church is demonstrating that saving energy and helping the planet doesn’t have to take a wad out of your wallet.  Grace Episcopal Church, located on 827 Church Street in Honesdale is participating in the pilot program, Wayne Businesses Conserve!, sharing steps they’ve taken to conserve energy, decrease their environmental footprint and save money.

Grace Episcopal Church practices all the basics of energy conservation, and in several cases they take their application of these practices a step further. For example, Grace Church proudly displays potted flowers on its Altar instead of freshly cut flowers. This might not sounds like a big deal, but think of the energy required to plant, grow, cut, transport and keep alive those freshly cut flowers only to have them wilt in a few days. It becomes easier to understand why potted flowers make so much sense. For a fraction of the energy (and cost!), potted flowers offer long lasting beauty, plus the added benefit of air purification.

Here is another of example of how Grace Episcopal Church is exceeding normal conservation practices: in addition to phasing in energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) and ensuring that all unnecessary lights are turned off, desktop lamps are often used instead of overhead lights in the church’s office. Task lighting saves a substantial amount of energy—instead of using 5 light bulbs to light the area at his desk, Grace Church’s Father Edward Erb is only using 1. 

At Grace Church, an automatic thermostat is used to regulate the heating and cooling of the buildings. On weekdays during the winter, the thermostat in the church is kept at 50 degrees. “The cooler temperature might sound unappealing to people, but it actually creates a better environment for the church’s organ,” says Maria Zegion, Organist and member of Grace Church’s Green Team. To keep temperatures down in the summer, church windows are opened at night and shut first thing in the morning, trapping the cool morning air inside the building. Opening windows and doors during the day creates a breeze that flows between the church and the office, allowing office inhabitants to enjoy a natural airflow instead of using air conditioning. Taking conservation a step further, Father Erb and the Parish Administrator, Rose Rostler combined offices to lower their winter heating bills. You can find them both working happily in the front office of the church.

When it comes to waste reduction, Grace Church is leading the pack. Everything is recycled, including printer and toner cartridges and other electronic waste. They even have a compost bin for their coffee grounds and small kitchen scraps. Whenever possible, real china dishware is used at church events instead of disposable plates and utensils, which further decreases the volume of the Church’s waste stream.  “We’ve managed to reduce our dumpster pick up to 2 times a month instead of once weekly,” says Father Erb.

Grace Church is also looking to the future for possibilities in renewable sources of energy. “We would love to install solar panels on the Parish House roof” says Father Erb. “To help us accomplish this, we are keeping our eyes and ears open for funding sources,” he continued. In the meantime, the “Green Team” is taking smaller steps to continue energy conserve and increase the efficiency of their church. Right now they are focusing on further weatherizing the historic building and looking into purchasing paper products with a minimum of 30% post consumer recycled content. Stay tuned for updates!

Wayne Businesses Conserve! is a pilot program sponsored by SEEDS, Workforce Wayne and PPL Electric Utilities. Run throughout the summer of 2010 in Honesdale, PA, this program aims to recognize the energy conservation efforts of local businesses, share simple, affordable and economically sound conservation techniques and raise awareness about a sustainable energy future. Each WBC! participant has met established criteria in 6 different categories: energy conservation, renewable power, transportation, water conservation, purchasing & waste prevention and recycling & composting. Please contact WBC! with any questions at wbc.seeds@gmail.com or visit http://waynebusinessesconserve.weebly.com for more information.

Click here to read about Grace Church in the Pocono Business Journal Online!

5/21/2012 19:19:21

Grace Church is also looking to the future for possibilities in renewable sources of energy.It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information.

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