Savings that Make a Difference
partners in past projects saved tens of thousands of dollars on their electricity bills and purchased clean energy.By coming together,
Those community organizations, largely made up of faith institutions, channeled the savings back into the heart of their work – delivering crucial services to community members in need of support. A few partners to highlight:
SEED Charter School, founded in 1998, was the first urban public boarding school in the country. Located in the Marshall Heights neighborhood of Ward 7, the school offers small class size to promote student achievement and academic excellence. Ninety-six percent of all SEED graduates have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities. The school will save $28,540 on energy bills over one year.
Community Action Council of Howard County works to address some of the economic disparity within the county by ensuring low-income families have access to necessities like food, housing, and gas and electricity for their homes. It also operates a Head Start center that provides pre-school for eligible children. The Council will save $2,700 over the next year.
Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, located in a distressed Baltimore neighborhood, aims to serve as a gathering point for a healthier neighborhood. Its ministries include a food pantry, afterschool program and summer camp for neighborhood children. The congregation will save $600 over one year.
|SEED Public Charter School (Southeast Washington)||$28,540|
|NAACP headquarters (Baltimore, Maryland)||$7,000|
|Epiphany Lutheran Church (Baltimore, Maryland)||$6,100|
Sylvia Robinson, Executive Director of the Emergence Community Arts Collective shared why her organization became involved: "To help the community weigh in on Georgia Avenue development, we’re looking at ways that networks, businesses and residents can work together. I liked the idea behind the Community Power Project - that you can pool your resources on a larger scale. The cost-savings allow us to put more resources into providing affordable community space to the neighborhood. We're also setting an example for cooperative organizing that can apply to a lot of activities."
Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program, voiced why her organization became involved. "“The NAACP encourages other businesses, organizations, churches, etc. to seek out mechanisms to support clean and renewable energy, advance cooperative economics at the local level, and promote locally-sourced, lower cost electricity. We hope to be a living example of the power and benefits of implementing sustainable practices at the local level.”
Ellen Agler, Executive Director of Temple Sinai in Northwest Washington, D.C., a relatively large temple community. Why did they join this initiative? "It's important that we're as smart as we can be about using our resources. Utilities are about 4.5 percent of our operating budget. Through the Community Power Project, we switched to 100 percent wind power and helped other organizations with less purchasing power save money and purchase cleaner energy too.... We had been negotiating good electricity rates on our own for a few years, but joined this group to do good for the D.C. community and the world. Temple Sinai embraces the Hebrew phrase Tikkun Olam, which means "repair the world." We're grateful for the chance to have a bigger impact than we could as just one congregation on our own."
Cynthia Marshall, Lead Organizer of People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, worked with their sister organizations in Montgomery County and Baltimore to help organize the most recent purchase. Cynthia explained why: "The energy purchase helped us address one of the top issues raised by members of our congregations when we held house meetings two and a half years ago in Howard County: rising energy prices. In these tough economic times, especially for seniors and families facing unemployment in our congregations, lower energy bills mean they have more money to spend on important things in their lives like their children's education."
Rev. Monique Ellison, pastor of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Linthicum, Maryland described how covering her congregation's energy costs is a drain on its human resources: "Every day, I see how much people power goes into paying our electric bill. Countless volunteer hours are spent on fundraising to pay for the electricity that keeps our facilities running. Reducing what our church spends on energy can free people up to do what they have a passion for in their hearts."
Rev. Donna Claycomb Sokol, pastor of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, explained the benefits of the Community Power Project: "When it comes to ministry, every single dollar matters. Too often, our buildings and utilities consume our resources instead of our resources being invested in ministries that make a difference. At the same time, we are always seeking to be good stewards of God’s creation. To be able to use natural energy while saving money is truly a win win situation for everyone."
Rev. Tom Knoll, pastor at First Trinity Lutheran Church, wrote about the multiple benefits of the Community Power Project in a commentary published in the Washington Post. Rev. Knoll expects his congregation to save $3,000 to $4,000 per year, but notes that the most "exciting thing about saving money is that we're able to do more - more outreach and help more people."
Four days a week, St. Columba's Episcopal Church serves homeless people through their Water Ministry. People can eat a hot meal, take a shower and do laundry. In the evenings, six to eight separate 12-step self-help groups meet in the church as well. The congregation "uses quite a bit of hot water between kitchen, laundry and water," according to Paul Barkett, St. Columba’s Chief Operating Officer. He believes "the potential for savings is huge ... probably in the range of $10,000 per year."
National Presbyterian Church, with 2,000 congregants, spends $140,000 annually on electricity. They will save approximately $2,300 per month on their energy costs as a result. Facilities Manager Jim Walker values the dramatic cost-savings and the opportunity to build community across a diversity of religious organizations. “Opening the communications, creating friendships and building trust that make community is essential.”