Even God’s Home is Going Green

March 16, 2009

Going green has reached an all time high, literally! In the movement towards a greener nation, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina has set a new standard for eco-friendly churches. The church as been recognized as an IPL green energy leader.

Pullen’s church expansion had to uphold the church’s tradition of cherishing the earth, so what better way to do so than by incorporating a green design? The desire to be “as green as can be” and still be affordable, is always a challenge faced by any homeowner or organization wanting to make ‘green’ renovations to their home. Pullen chose green design elements that allowed it to meet its goals within a healthy and comfortable structure that offers reduced maintenance and operation costs.

How Do You Power a Green Church?

Sticking with the church’s tradition of cherishing the earth, Pullen decided to use the earth’s own energy to power up, as in; Geothermal Energy for it’s heating and cooling system. While upfront costs are a bit higher, the system will save at least $6K a year compared to conventional HVAC systems. Environmentally, the system offsets burning 34 tons of coal annually, which prevents 250,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.

Let There Be Light!

How do you light the house of the Lord? Why not let the Man himself light it for you! Pullen’s addition makes the best use of natural light by orienting the building in specific directions and strategically placing windows, providing 80 percent of the new space to be lit naturally. Solar shading devices allow occupants to control brightness and glare as well. If there is a need for man-made light, energy efficient lighting fixtures and motion-activated controls were installed.

Green Roofing

The church wanted to give the big Guy something nice to look down on as well as he admired his eco-friendly home, so a green roof was installed. By installing a planted ‘green’ roof, Pullen’s addition will emit less heat after sundown. The debate about global warming rages on and one of the key contributors to rising temperatures in the cities is what’s known as the “heat island” effect. Essentially, urban air is often several degrees warmer than rural areas because of the energy stored in materials such as concrete during the day and released in the evening.

Water Control

When the heavens do open up, Pullen will be waiting with open arms. Storm water runoff will be reduced by the green roof, which will retain and filter rainwater before releasing it slowly to the city’s storm water system. Rain which hits the chapel and existing part of the church will be directed to a 3,000 gallon cistern where it will later be used to irrigate the grounds.

Going Green for the Lord

Going green is now a major calling for other national religious groups, including one church in Sylvania, Ohio. They want to show how the green movement is God’s way. The church has even formed a “green team” which is responsible for saving energy and saving the environment. The church has even tapped into the power of the sun by adding solar paneling to it’s roof.

The website for Sylvania’s United Church of Christ is www.sylvaniaucc.org.

Green building will continue to transform and transcend new markets as the world wakes up to the reality of a changing planet. We will adapt and learn to live sustainably without losing the conveniences we’ve grown accustomed to.

Photo credit: by twbuckner under Flicker Creative Commons