We've Reduced our Carbon Footprint
The final report on our energy efficiency renovations has arrived, and we're excited to report that our natural gas usage is down 23% since 2015. That means we're emitting 12 metric tonnes less of CO2 each year than we did before we began.
Four major projects have made the bulk of the difference:
- installing a high-efficiency steam boiler in 2017
- insulating the roof of the Sanctuary in 2019
- covering the Sanctuary stained glass with plastic inserts in 2021
- adding timed thermostats to the Sanctuary in 2022, which allow us to keep the room cooler when it's not being used
We're grateful to everyone who donated to the Grateful and Loving It Capital Campaign, which made these renovations possible, and to the United Church's Faithful Footprints grant program, which contributed $20,000 towards the cost.
Our first DIY energy audit in 2004 encouraged us to begin with replacing light bulbs and weather stripping throughout the building; all of the fluorescent fixtures were converted to T8’s (an immediate 10% reduction on electric bill). In 2007 we switched the Sanctuary from incandescents (10,000 watts) to 1600 watts (mostly with compact fluorescents, which were the best available at the time); not only did we use less energy, we ended up with more lumens as well!
Between 2004 and 2010 the attic in the west wing of the building was insulated with blown-in insulation, and Plexiglas storm windows were installed on the inside of all the lead-pane windows in that wing, significantly reducing drafts. Thermostats were replaced with programmable ones. Older 13 liter toilets were replaced with 6 litre models. Caulking of baseboards and trim was done by volunteers throughout the building.
A 2014 HVAC Engineering Study by MacGregor Allsop identified that our steam boiler and infrastructure was in poor condition and would need replacement within 5-7 years. We chose to replace the aging boiler with a Weil McLain LGB-5 High Efficiency Commercial Gas Boiler. This boiler has an 85.1% combustion efficiency and is advertised as being the highest efficiency cast iron atmospheric gas boiler available. It exceeds efficiency the requirements of ASHRAE 90.1. EUI numbers show a 11-14% reduction in our energy use compared to 2015. We raised some money locally, added in monies from two bequests, and took out a loan from the Sustainable Energy Fund of the Toronto United Church Council for the balance. The loan will be fully paid by March 2022. We also changed chemical companies, so that the chemicals added to our steam lines are now completely environmentally friendly.
In 2018 we renovated two rooms to comply with day care licensing requirements. We added two new windows into the west wall of the rooms using high quality triple glazed windows. Similar windows were added to the east wall of the church. We also installed low flush toilets in the children’s washroom.
The roofing shingles reached the end of their life in 2019, and we used the opportunity to add insulation to the roof over the Sanctuary where there had been none at all. During the pandemic, volunteers created plexiglas panels to insulate the Sanctuary stained glass, and our boiler technicians installed thermostatic valves in the Sanctuary so that the room could be kept cooler on the days when it wasn't in use.
We're excited to see the difference that all of these renovations have added to our building, and looking forward to being able to do more in the future.