Creation Care Guide
2012 Lenten Article Series (part 2 of 7)by the First Church Green Team
As we consider what personal sacrifice and acts of self-denial we want to make during this Lenten Season, let us make ourselves aware of what is happening in God’s Creation. The Biblical vision of compassion is a demanding concept. The scriptures push us into the arena of justice.
As human beings — created in God’s image — we have a special responsibility to care for His gift of creation. Our status as Christians increases this accountability. Along with that commitment comes Jesus’ command that we love our neighbor in the same way we do ourselves. But just who is this neighbor? Think prayerfully about this question as you study carefully the following two charts.
Click here to read more of this article.
Leed Certificationby the First Church Green Team
If you have been to First Church recently you have had the opportunity to see our beautiful new ministry center with the wide-open gathering space, the contemporary worship center and sun-filled classrooms. The Green Team would like to take you on another tour to show you what you may not have seen.
Thanks to the vision of the trustees and the building committee the new ministry center was planned and built with many sustainable features which will be submitted to the US Green Building Council for LEED Certification. This is a green rating system that measures five areas of the building’s sustainability features which include:
- a sustainable site that reduces the “heat island” effect and reduces carbon foot-print,
- water efficiency outside and inside the building to reduce water consumption,
- energy efficient lighting fixtures, mechanical systems and building envelope,
- materials and resources that use sustainable products and recycles construction waste from building construction,
- indoor environment that uses low (VOC) emitting adhesives, paints and carpets.
Over the next few weeks, our Green Team will make an addition to this information to highlight each one of these areas in more detail. We think you will be pleased with First Church’s commitment to the stewardship of our resources and care of the earth.
Heat Island Effect
On the first stop of the sustainability tour of our new Ministry Center let’s take a look to see how First Church has reduced the “heat island effect” and the ecological footprint on our environment.
Ever stepped barefoot outdoors on a hot Florida sidewalk? Then you have experienced what is referred to as the “heat island effect” that happens when a multitude of hard surfaces, including exposed walls, radiate the sun’s energy. The decision to decrease the hard surface parking by installing an underground parking area made a significant dent in reducing the heat island effect. Up on the roof top of our new ministry center, reflective roofing material was used which further reduces heat radiation.
We are fortunate that because of our site location we qualify as “carbon footprint” friendly.
First Church is supported by a number of bus routes, downtown amenities and nearby housing which make us readily accessible to the downtown community.
Majestic space saver Highrise Live Oak Trees and our Florida State Tree, the Sabal Palm, surround our Church Campus and four Drake Elm trees grace the courtyard making a sacred statement that “God calls us to be good stewards of creation and set an example for our community.”
So the next time you step inside the ministry center although you won’t see it, think about the protection above, below and around you that reduces the “heat island effect” and our ecological footprint. The motto that “First Church Cares” was true yesterday and continues to define us today.
On the second stop of the sustainability tour of our new ministry center we will look at how First Church has managed to reduce the use of one of our most precious resources, water.
Most of us know that leaky faucets and running toilets waste water and erode our pocketbooks. But how many of us know how to reduce water even before we turn the faucet on or flush the toilet? We think you will be pleased to know that during the planning of our new ministry center some simple steps were taken to help achieve a significant savings in our use of water.
The water faucets used in the new ministry center are equipped with low-flow aerators that allow a flow rate of 0.5 gallons per minute where the typical water faucet allows 2.5 gallons per minute. The toilets are high efficiency toilets that utilize 1.25 gallons per flush, rather than the standard 1.6 gallons per flush and the high efficiency urinals utilize only one pint of water per flush, rather than the standard one gallon per flush. This reduction in water use contributes to our Ministry Center using 37.9% less potable water than buildings that do not employ water savings strategies.
In addition to these sustainability features the drip-line irrigation system used in the Florida Friendly landscape provides a significant reduction in the use of water. To further increase our savings the Green Team encourages all of us to continue to make every effort to be aware of ways we can save on our water use. If you are interested in these water saving items for your own home, the drip-line irrigation, low-flow shower heads and faucets can be found at local home improvement stores.
So the next time you turn on a faucet or flush a toilet in our new ministry center remember the water we are saving and be thankful that First Church is becoming a better steward and caretaker of God’s Creation.
Energy Efficient Design
On our third stop of the sustainability tour of the new ministry center we will look at how First Church promotes energy conservation through the use of energy efficient design, including the mechanical systems and lighting.
You have heard it said as a child — or you have said it yourself as an adult — “Turn off the lights!” As important as that is in stopping wasteful use of electricity you will be happy to learn that major steps were taken by our Building Committee to assure that state-of-the-art energy saving measures are included.
One of the signature features that define our new building is the expansive sun-filled windows. Beyond their beauty these low e-glass windows reflect heat energy from the outside reducing cooling cost during the summer and reflect heat from the inside to help reduce energy loss during the cold months. Sun-shades and exterior architectural features further reduce the heat and cooling load.
We are able to reduce our energy costs by 17.7% by using an optimal number of high efficiency lighting fixtures such as fluorescent and LEDs, as well as natural light. Additionally, some spaces utilize occupancy sensors which automatically turn lights off when the room is not in use.
The efficient climate control system allows for demand-controlled ventilation, which has Variable Frequency Distribution on secondary chilled water pumps and airside fans in the heating and air-conditioning unit. This simply means it uses only as much energy as necessary to meet system demand during off-peak loads and results in lower operating and energy cost.
The new energy star appliances in our kitchen and the high-efficiency natural gas hot water heaters provide significant savings in energy consumption. These energy-efficient features are easily adaptable to your home.
Sustainable Materials and Resources
On the fourth stop of our tour of the new Ministry Center we will look at how First Church has used sustainable materials and resources through-out the building project.
Remember the fairy-tale about the three little pigs and how the houses the first two built with sticks and straw were blown down but all the huffing and puffing couldn’t blow down the third house built of bricks? First Church, like the wise one, chose sustainable materials that are quickly renewable and will withstand the test of time.
Did you know that that the structure of the building contains recycled concrete and recycled steel and why this is important? Keeping concrete debris out of landfills saves landfill space and recycling one ton of cement saves approximately 1,260 gallons of water. Recycled steel saves primary resources (1.8 tons of iron ore), reduces waste and requires only 30% of the energy when compared to primary steel production. What a great way for First church to put stewardship into action.
We invite you when you step inside the center to glance down at the beautiful flooring. On the first floor you’ll see beautiful strips of bamboo. Bamboo an eco-friendly, highly renewal material, is not a tree but a fast growing grass. It reaches maturity in three to five years, is self-regenerating and requires little or no fertilizers or pesticides to grow. This makes Bamboo a great alternative to wood and a good sustainable choice.
In the children’s area on the second floor you’ll be looking at colorful Marmoleum. Marmoleum is a non-toxic flooring made from natural raw-materials which are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It is amazingly soft to walk on and its anti-static properties repel dust and dirt making it easier to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Marmoleum is a good green choice and makes a perfect flooring for our active children’s department.
On the fifth stop of our tour of the new Ministry Center we will look at how First Church has created a clean, allergy-free indoor environment.
What does sacred space smell like? The next time you visit we invite you to take a pause and breathe-in deeply. What did you smell? That’s right, it doesn’t have a smell. We hope instead you were filled with a sense of the fresh, pure feeling in the air.
Great care was taken by the building committee to assure that a high level of indoor quality was maintained through-out the project. This was achieved by using low-emitting materials containing zero or low-volatile organic compounds which do not release significant pollutants into the indoor environment. Examples of these materials and products include: urea formaldehyde-free wood and composite products; Low-VOC paints, sealants, adhesives and carpets (as measured by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus Program.)
Additionally, First Church continues to use a green cleaning program so that the congregation and staff are not exposed to noxious fumes and harmful chemicals contained in many cleaning products. Click here for some good green cleaning recipes.
The Green Team encourages us all to adopt the use of these low-emitting products to improve the indoor environment of our homes by reducing harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s).
To learn more visit the EPA website.
On the last stop of our sustainability tour we will learn how First Church has created a beautiful Florida Friendly Landscape.