Peaks Island, ME
Certified Cool Congregation, 20% carbon reduction
Brackett Memorial United Methodist Church is located on Peaks Island in Maine, where heating oil prices are roughly 25% higher than on the mainland. The congregation has become increasingly concerned about climate change and ocean acidification, and has participated in Interfaith Power & Light’s annual Preach-In.
Three years ago they heard about Window Dressers (windowdressersusa.com), an all-volunteer organization based in Maine, which provides know how, simple wood frames, tools, and the needed materials to construct energy efficient, inexpensive interior storm window inserts. Church members built inserts for their own facility but also contracted with a BPI trained auditor whose business air sealed and insulated the church’s building envelope, and re-insulated the heating ducts. Fuel consumption for the 2013-2014 heating season was 795 gallons, down 24% from 1050 gallons during the baseline year, in spite of the harsh winter just experienced. As a result the church has made a 2 ton reduction in CO2 emissions.
Much of the housing on Peaks Island is old, with many homes originally intended as summer cottages converted to year round use. Brackett Church views local mission efforts as a high priority. For two years running, the church has donated “community build” volunteers, heat, light and the use of its fellowship hall for one week in the fall for storm window insert construction. A total of 64 community volunteers have come together to construct 643 of these energy saving inserts for 55 homes on the island. If they were able, recipients of the inserts were asked to volunteer for at least one four-hour shift. The inserts reduce air pollution, typically paying for themselves in one heating season in this cold Maine climate, so the work involved is a great environmental ministry, a local initiative that helps in a small way to mitigate climate change. But it’s also an effort that builds community and saves the church’s island neighbors money. A third community build will be undertaken fall of 2014.