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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?

trees

Ben.Millet

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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As cities continue to grow and add building and parking lots,  storm water runoff is becoming a big issue.  Many urban areas have combined sewer and storm water systems, and when it rains, they easily can be overwhelmed and cause raw sewage to enter local rivers and streams.

In Indianapolis, for example, it only takes 1/4 inch of rain to cause the sewer system to over flow, and thus, more and more cities are looking for ways to reduce the amount of storm water that enters the sewage system.  Cities like Chicago are creating ‘green roofs,’ rain gardens, and they are using porous pavement to allow water to seep back into the ground.

Curious to show the benefits of these techniques, I took a tour of the new Nature Conservancy office in Indiana.  The facility was built last year, and using the USGBC LEED rating system, the architect added a ‘green roof’ and a two phase rain garden (see pictures below). These systems helped the building achieve points in the areas of Sustainable Sites and Water Efficiency (SS5.1, SS6.1, SS7.2, WE1), which were used toward achieving their overall LEED certification.

The first picture shows the roof of the facility,  and how the conservancy used local and native plants to create a green space on their roof.  My tour guide said that this roof has helped to lower the cost to cool the facility in the summer, reduce storm water runoff, provided added protection to the roof’s membrane, and created a new habitat for birds and insects.

Plants on a roof (more…)

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centralasian

If you have ever run a business or purchased a piece of property, then you likely have heard the phrase: Location, Location, Location.

In all real estate, location is a very important factor because it provides visibility, connection to a community, and access.

Just like a business, these factors are equally true, as many visitors will first encounter your church as they drive past- in 3- 5 seconds.

Thus, if you are looking to select a site, you should consider the following factors:

  • Visibility -can the church be easily seen and found
  • Access– is there easy access along traffic thoroughfares and alternative transportation
  • Corners– corners are great for churches and often they provide 2 way access to parking
  • Barriers– what barriers do people have to cross to get to the location (think interstates, bridges, rivers, mountains, gated communities, etc)
  • Building Placement– put the facility as close to the street as possible, otherwise the first view of the facility is your parking lot
  • Sign & Sign Placement– pick a good modern sign that is in a prominent location and can be seen easily
  • Neighborhood Demographics– it is best to match demographics of your church to the community (more…)

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If you lived in NYC, and you asked someone “How much does your parking space cost?” They, likely, would tell you the monthly cost to lease their parking spot.

However, the cost that I want to explore is the lifetime cost of creating and maintaining a parking spot.

In 2007, I gave a presentation that cited the estimated material cost to create and maintain a single parking space for 50 years was around $9,000.

This may seem like an inflated number, but if you stop to think about all of the related costs to dig, level, pave, paint, reseal, repaint, and maintain a single parking spot for a 50 year period, $9,000 seems cheap. Especially, because it doesn’t include any costs for salt, cleaning, or the environmental impacts of increased heat island effect, storm water runoff, or the loss of vegetation and habitat.

Thus, as you consider adding parking to your facility, it is always good to think through the costs to create, own, and maintain that space- especially when you can find cheaper alternatives for green parking and alternative transportation.

Photo Credit: Jgrimm

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>Have you thought about the ‘Curb Appeal’ of your church before?

If you have ever tried to sell your house, or you watch the ‘Home and Garden Channel,’ then you know exactly what I am talking about. 

However, while many people can easily apply this concept to their home, many churches and nonprofits struggle with providing a ‘welcoming’ entrance into their facility.

In fact, many ministers will joke about how their facility has a beautiful front door on the street, but that most people come in the ‘back’ kitchen door because it opens into the parking lot.

If you need an example, please see the pictures below. 

The top picture shows the example of a beautiful front door of a church, while the lower picture shows the door that most people and visitors enter. Which looks more inviting?  What does the lower picture tell visitors? How should this church consider improving the main door (shown by the red arrow in the lower picture)?

If you are a church leader, I would encourage you to explore this concept at your home church one day.

To do this, you will need to conduct an experiment:

  1. Watch how most people enter your facility on a normal Sunday-count visitors and members separately.
  2. Test the same experiment during a wedding, funeral, or special event with many out of town visitors. 
  3. Take pictures during the experiment of people entering (or trying to enter) and of the entrances that they use.  

Note: Remember, this is an experiment and you should not change any factors from a routine event. You also should act only as an observer and not try to help people enter or find the entrance to the facility.

This type of experiment can be a very informative for your church, and it likely will lead to further discussions of the design, care, and the accessibility of your building. After all, we all know the frustrating feeling of showing up for the first time at a church, and having to walk around the building until we find the random unlocked door that serves as the main entrance into the facility.

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For two years I have been working with a congregation in Seattle, WA that has continued to amaze me by their vision for ministry and their forethought for action.

Approximately one year go Findlay St. Christian Church choose to relocate to a new area of Seattle (as their facility no longer met their needs).  And, as they were deciding where to move, the congregation decided to pick a site that was near a new metro line for light rail.

The congregation made this decision, as they wanted to offer participants an alternative mode of transportation, and because the decision matched the congregation’s concern for the environment. By having a metro line close by, the church is decreasing its carbon footprint, by encouraging members to leave their cars at home, and it may offer them a new connection for meeting people in their area.

As parking, traffic, and other restrictions continue to limit develop, this was a creative solution that was backed by a strong sense of welcoming theology.

Photo Credit: ST Light Rail Train

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>This video has been around for a while, but as I watched it again, it caused me to think about how we can be better at greeting and welcoming visitors- especially in the set up and layout of our facility.

Just watching the first minute of the video you see the importance of adding signs, parking, and the impact of having locked doors or doors without greeters. Hopefully this can be a great tool to help churches rethink how they welcome visitors and what their facility says to the community around them. 

 

And remember, Coffee is Good… All the Time!

Special thanks to Rick Morse for suggesting the video and beyondrelevance for creating it. 

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