Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

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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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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This is a Guest Blog by Matthew Harris-Gloyer.

My wife is a pastor.  That’s right, I am a pastor’s husband.  It is a role reversal from what is traditionally considered.  My experience as a pastor’s husband is becoming more prevalent in the Church that is experiencing more women in ministry as ordained clergy.  Consequently, there are more men who are experiencing the joys and challenges of being a pastor’s spouse.  How the Church and church members respond to this emerging situation is important to me and, I believe, is important to the Church.  One important aspect is how the Church supports pastors and their spouses.  This support will play a role in whether or not I (and other couples) continue in ministry and consequently whether the Church will live into its gospel mission to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth.  For, the ends of the earth begins at our own doorstep and even within our own communities.  I put it this way: The Church’s biblical calling to care for all of creation begins with its care of congregants and pastors. (more…)

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This past weekend, I attended the 2011 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) church.  This event is the collective gathering of the denomination to worship, learn, share, and to conduct the general business of the church.

Lori Adams speaking

Hope Partnership Dinner

It was a great event and it helped to refuel my soul for the ministry that I provide for local congregations and their leaders.  Thank you so much!



From my time at Assembly, I thought I would share these news stories and links:

Additional Videos can be found at www.disciples.org/GeneralAssembly/Video/

It was a great assembly. Thank you to all who participated and to the many leaders who made it such a success!

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Friends, I wanted to share with you the launch of the ‘Green Chalice’ program and network.

Symbol of Green Chalice

Green Chalice

The Green Chalice is a growing ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and it is designed to empower local congregation to take action in their church and community.

The Green Chalice program originally started as a ministry of the Christian Church of Kentucky (CCKY) in 2007, and since then the program has grown to include both churches, ministers, and lay leaders.  The new program will expand the Green Chalice program and network to the entire denomination (USA & Canada), and it is a joint sponsorship by Disciples Home Mission (DHM) and the region of Kentucky.

Rev. Carol Devine, of Republican Christian Church  in Cynthiana, KY will be the lead coordinator for the program, and already her work has been recognized by the KY chapter of Interfaith Power and Light.

Earlier this year, Rev. Devine was awarded the 2011 KIPPE award for her leadership and the work of CCKY in creation care.

For more information about the Green Chalice program, visit these sites:

Blog Note- Republican Christian Church is not affiliated to the national Republican political party. The church was founded in 1809, in Cynthiana KY.

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On Sunday I read an article in the NYT that struck me, because it connected the two issues of ‘Climate Change‘ and ‘Food Productivity.’

The article is entitled, “Extreme Weather Helps Drive Up Food Prices,” by Elisabeth Rosenthal, and it highlights how extreme weather conditions over the past year have lead to higher food and grain prices.

The article begins by sharing that the Food Price Index has hit a record high, 214, compared to its history since it was established by the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization in 1990.

For example, here are a list of major events that have hurt food production:

  • Russian wheat crops destroyed by drought and high summer temperatures
  • Pakistan’s flooding wiping out crop production
  • Laos and Cambodia- low crop yields due to a lack of rain
  • Australian drought, lack of rain, and then flooding
  • United States early flooding in 2011- lack of early planting and spring harvest

Beyond just the statistics and science of this conversation, this article highlights the compounding issues of food security, global development, food production, and environmental stewardship.  Each one of these issues is a problem in itself, but combined these issues multiply the effect and impact.

As faith communities, and local churches in the USA, we often do not consider these issues, unless we live or work in a community that is directly impacted by something like the current floods in the midwest (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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Christopher Robin Baker

As spring temperatures begin to raise, I thought I would pass along a tip that combines spring planting with energy savings.

As air conditioning systems often use exterior condensing units to transfer heat, it can be beneficial to shade these units by planting a tree or set of shrubs.  Most estimates suggest that a shaded condenser uses  10% less energy to cool your house or facility, and better yet, it helps to hide an eye sore and reduces carbon dioxide.

Here are a few notes to help:

  • Make sure you leave 2 feet of clearance around the sides of all equipment
  • Make sure to leave at least 5 feet of clearance above the unit
  • Find ways to redirect water that condensates on the unit to help water the plants
  • Remember that Sun is most direct in the South and West sides of a building
  • Be sure to regularly trim plants to keep the equipment clear from debris
  • Plant trees and shrubs that are native and that limit growth to suit your landscaping and the area around the unit (for examples, this is not a great place to put vines).

For more information, check out this article at Green Your.com

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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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Last week, as I sat in a finance committee meeting with a church, I was involved in a conversation about whether the church should try out “online giving.”

It is a conversation that many churches are having these days, because it is a trending method of shopping, paying bills, and making donations.

It tends to offer flexibility to the donor, and studies have shown that many donations at the end of the year, take place online, due to the ease of giving and the last second nature of our culture.  Others studies have shared that online or electronic giving tend to be higher donations, and it provides regular income.

One draw back, however, is that (more…)

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