Archive for the ‘construction’ Category

Last week I was contacted by Bart Voight of Voight Creations about setting up a referral process for churches who might need visual renderings or 3D modeling for their various building or capital fundraising campaigns.

In many cases, architects can provide a simple floor plan or elevation sketches to help donors envision what the final project will look like. However, in some cases a church may wish to consider having a more detailed or realistic model, which can now be created with 3D technology (see image).

church rendering

Voigt Creations

In my conversation with Bart, I asked him, “What are the top 5 reasons a church may wish to use this technology?” His responses are below.

What are the top 5 reasons a rendering would be helpful to a church?

  1. Clarification of concepts and ideas-  the vision of the project
  2. Zoning or code approval- assisting local zoning boards (more…)

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Did you know a tree can add 10% of value to a property?  Or, that trees can help to lower heating and cooling costs to a facility?



The answer to both of these questions is “yes, both are true.”

In 2005, Susan Wachter, from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a study entitled, The Determinants of Neighborhood Transformations in Philadelphia.” The study was designed to analyze the economic impact of how planting trees and creating site improvements impacts the value of property values.

Some of the highlights of the study include:

  • The study finds that vacant land improvements result in surrounding housing values increasing by as much as 30%. (more…)

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To cap off the week, I thought I would share a few articles and topics that peaked my interest.  I am not sure if I will be able to get a full blog up about these individually, but I did think that they would be important resources as they relate to church giving and operations. Be sure to check out #3 and the zombie house at the bottom:

  1. Executive Directors Should Invest More Time on Their Boards– is an article by Rick Moyers that highlights how executive directors (think ministers) are often frustrated with their board of directors.  The interesting part of the article is that directors who spend less time with their boards have a higher level of frustration and feel like the board is less effective.  (Article produced by The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
  2. Fundraisers Mull the Effects of a Double Dip Recession– is an article by Holly Hall that discusses why charities should not be too scared by the economy, but also why it is important to do a little bit of research before you visit a donor.  For many people this recession, and the threat of a double dip, is really a financial stress, but for often donors still hope to support their favorite charities, religions, and causes.  (Article produced by The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
  3. How a Double Dip Recession Could Affect Giving- is a great article on what nonprofit organizations can expect in the current giving economy.  2008 and 2009 have been devastating to total philanthropic giving, and forecasters predict that giving will decrease in 2011 again.  This article will help churches and other nonprofits to look at how to best center their fundraising focus. (Article produced by The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

And finally, I wanted to share this ridiculous, and yet amazing, zombie proof house (more…)

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Foothills Christian Church in Glendale, AZ has found a new way to promote itself and support its ministry.

Approximately a year ago, Pastor Erin Wathen was approached by a cell phone company, to see if the church would be interested in having a cell tower placed on its property.  The company said that they would be happy to pay for the construction of the tower, and to lease the space from the church.

The church was interested, and after talking through some of the details, the church accepted the offer.

As part of the process, the church and the cell company needed to select a design that fit the church and that would pass the city’s zoning codes.  In the past, the cell company had created a large plastic palm tree or giant cross at similar locations, but Foothills felt like the design didn’t match the look of their facility.  Instead, working with the church, the company designed the cell tower to look like a bell tower (see picture), and when presented to the county’s assessor, the assessor commented that, “it was the best design he’d seen.”

Cell Tower

Church's Cell Tower

Soon after approval, construction began, and so did the growing awareness of the church in the community.

“It was great,” says Pastor Wathen, “because it increased our visibility in the community (more…)

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In much of my energy and environmental consulting work with congregations, I am constantly being asked, “How can we make our very old church building energy efficient?”

It is a great question, because sometimes a large and historic facility can be very overwhelming when you start to think about projects, costs, and the motivation needed to accomplish such a large project.

However, just like the wise sage once said… “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.”

Retrofitting a historic structure is not rocket science.  You just need a little more patience and creativity to accomplish your goals.  For example, you can still insulate your building, it is just a little harder to insulate a building already built, than to add insulation as you do new construction.

To prove this point, I wanted to pass along the success story of Virginia Theological Seminary.  A friend recently shared this article with me and it shows how you can combine 19th century architecture with modern trends in green building and energy retrofitting.

The article was published by Builderonline.com and it is title, “An Episcopal Seminary brings LEED into the 19th Century”

Blog Notes: Special thanks to Ed Walsh for sharing the article with me.

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Everyone jokes that churches take a long time to make a decision.  One pastor even called it ‘Glacial.’

But, the real reason that churches often take so much time is because they use a ‘consensus model’ of decision making.

Unlike a business, which takes a quick vote or follows the boss’s lead, churches like to give everyone the chance to speak, discuss, and then work towards a common solution.  This deliberative method is great for helping a group come to a common decision, but it can be slow.

So how should churches consider a project that needs to be timely, like say a building project?

Well, the best option is to have a two-fold approach:

  1. An Input and Sharing Session (more…)

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Last year I wrote a post about how Parkhill Christian Church and how they were able to save money and increase their ministry by making several energy upgrades to their facility. 

The blog was entitled, “The Power of Knowledge…Literally,” and it has served as a great success story about how churches can improve their facilities, increase ministry, and save money- at the same time. This blog is a follow up to that post, and it is designed to see if these initial results continue. 

I recently called Rev. Chris Franklin to interview him about how the church was doing and if the church was still seeing great results from their participation in an energy audit and ministry planning session with Church Extension.  Here is a snapshot of the conversation:

John: Chris, so tell me, how are things going at the church?

Chris: I think we are in the midst of what we would have to call dynamic change, in part stimulated by the analysis of the Green Church building report.  The most startling was the the high relative cost of maintenance and utilities in comparison to the low utilization of the building for ministry.  The change in the model of ministry to use the building for community and those outside the church and to be welcoming in doing so is transformational and challenging.  Our numbers of visitors have skyrocketed, and the congregation is thrilled to see prospective visitors in church on a regular basis, but surprised they don’t join after a few weeks of visiting.  We did not have the mentality of having active visitors.

J: What have been the savings that you have seen over the past year?

C: We have started seeing the savings as we replaced lights as they failed and insulated in the most cost effective locations.  The financial chair thinks we will save up to $12,000 this year in electricity and gas.  (more…)

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Photo: Brook Raymond

Over the past 6 months I have met with several congregations that are really struggling to determine, “What should we do with our building?”

Often these churches are facing a number of issues related to:

  • Differed maintenance
  • In-accessible space
  • Aging facilities (unusable space)
  • Building that is too large for the current size of the congregation
  • Rising maintenance costs
  • Health and safety issues

In every case my first question is, “Well, what is your ministry?” because, just like a business that designs it facility to serve its customers, church facilities should reflect the ministry of a church (After all, a Fedex distribution center is designed differently than a local McDonald’s. So why should a church that serves youth, have a facility designed to serve senior citizens?)

Thus, in order to make any decision about what to do with their facility, churches need to first analyze the following:

  • What is our current and future ministry?
  • How does our facility assist or prevent this ministry? (more…)

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Photo: Toyota

I am not sure if you have read the Freakonomics book (link), or if you listen to the Freakonomics podcast on Market Place (NPR), but recently I read one featured story about the effect that a hybrid vehicle has on your life.

In short, the researchers found that if you drive a Toyota Prius, you are more likely to make other lifestyle changes that include (Read or listen to the link by clicking on the link below):

“You make new friends; you get new business opportunities. In an especially “green” place like Boulder, Colo., the effect could be worth as much as $7,000. *

Beyond hearing these benefits (Yeah, that is right… choosing a hybrid, may save you an additional $7,000), it also got me thinking about the effect of attending a “Green Church.”

By attending a Green Church, it is likely you would be more aware of the idea of environmental stewardship and that you would be involved in a larger community that is like minded. It may also encourage you to make other green choices in your life and in your home.

It was just a thought to share, as we celebrate Spring and Eastertide.

* Freakonomic’s Article & quote from http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/04/21/conspicuous-conservation-and-the-prius-effect/

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Does your church need a loan? If so, then this post may help you prepare to talk with a lending agency or financial ministry like Church Extension.

Just like any business decision, the leadership of your church should do its research and learn about they type of legal agreement that it is required for a loan.  Unlike home loans, which are somewhat familiar to many of us, churches are considered commercial entities, and thus they are required to have commercial loans.

When you are ready to ask for a loan, typically, you will provide the following items:

Andreas Kuschner

  • Income and Expense reports for the past 3 years, plus for the current year to date
  • Recent Balance Sheet
  • Property Value and/or the value of other collateral that you will use to secure the loan
  • Statistics– Avg. Worship Attendance, Participating (Active Membership), and the # of Giving Units in your church
  • Purpose of the loan (property purchase, construction, etc)
  • Amount needed for the loan (Bid for construction, etc)
  • Amortization Period for the loan- 5, 10, 15, 20 years
  • Cash on Hand for the project (similar to a down payment) (more…)

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