Dumb Green & Half Green

Elsewhere in this blog, I’ve addressed a common problem seen in numerous churches… that of “muddling along.” Sometimes it’s due to lack of vision and leadership. Other times it’s because people and churches are satisfied doing “enough” to satisfy their sense of “doing something,” rather than going the extra mile. Here in the “GREEN JESUS” section of my blog, I’m addressing ideas for saving energy at the church, and a recent visit to a nearby solar home raised the “muddling” issue again…

Case in point:

Down here on St Croix, electricity is very expensive. So we were all very much intrigued by a “solar demo home” recently built down the road. Lots of energy efficient materials and appliances. Solar water heater, solar electric panels. They even painted the house green.

But…the house is a good example of “HALF-thinking through” a problem.

1. They built the house on the dry east-end of the island …down in a hot field with no shade and where it would be out of the wind. It’s windy down here…the trades are always blowing –if you build the house in the proper location to catch the wind. They did not, and they could have.

2. There is plenty of empty land down here to build a house. They choose a hot plain, but could have moved 400 yards up the hillside where it is on average 10 degrees cooler year-round.

3. The back of the house is exposed all day to the sun, which will mean they have to keep the windows shut and run the AC. You don’t want heated breezes coming into the house.

4.  They did, however, plant the front of the house which faces away from the sun and can be seen from the road. But rather than plant desert plants, they planted palm trees and bushes, –all of which need water from the ‘grey water’ collection system they built -but which also uses electricity to filter and pump the water.

Not thinking holistically about Green Solutions is part of the problem.

  • We put out recycle bins for used bulletins, but continue to produce one for every person as if sharing wasn’t a better idea. (the point… first: reduce consumption!)
  • We put in big windows in our churches, but most rarely open them when the weather turns nice, –running the AC instead so people can stay cool in their traditional church clothes.
  • We build high ceiling sanctuaries that will cost a fortune to light, heat and cool.
  • We put in fancy thermostats but don’t seal leaky air ducts.
  • We tend to plant shade trees away from the building, rather than next to it where they can do some good. Then we plant asphalt right up to the building.
  • We use recycled paper in the copier, but styrofoam cups in the fellowship hall.
  • etc, etc….Read the rest of this “Green Jesus” topic are for more.

EXAMPLES:

The church we now attend here sits on a hill and has large louvered windows to let in the breeze. No AC needed and we’re in a tropical environment. People dress for the weather, rather than according to tradition. Even the pastor wears “Jesus sandals.”

They don’t asphalt the parking lot because it would just heat up crazy. Rather, we have gravel which stays cooler, and is soooo much easier on the church budget.

Of course, northern churches can’t do what warm weather churches can. But there’s a lot they CAN do if they are willing to think FULLY THROUGH their issues and not just HALF the way through. 

At a former church they just built a new sanctuary. The old sanctuary was bathed in natural light from large windows on three sides. The new sanctuary is an electric company’s dream. Aesthetically, they built it in a grove of beautiful large trees on the property, but the architecture and arrangement of windows mostly ignores them and the shaded sunshine which could have been brought in.  I understand that windows cost more than bricks and are less energy efficient, but.  They also chose a high-ceiling style sanctuary which is going to be a BEAR to heat and cool.  IMHO they needed a green design that would have saved future members a kaboodle, been more interesting and less conventional, took in the surroundings more, and made a green statement.

Read the rest of my “Green Jesus” topic here for some great ideas, then think in FULL measure, not half measure.

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