Interfaith Power & Light Announces St. Mary's Catholic Church as Cool Congregations Challenge Winner

Event Details

Interfaith Power & Light Announces St. Mary's Catholic Church as Cool Congregations Challenge Winner

Time: April 13, 2016 to April 23, 2016
Location: St. Mary's Catholic Church
Street: 2211 E. Lakeview Drive
City/Town: Johnson City
Website or Map:
Phone: 423-282-6367
Event Type: press, release
Organized By: Ted V. Jackson
Latest Activity: Apr 13, 2016

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Event Description

 SAN FRANCISCO and JOHNSON CITY, April 13, 2016 —

A week before Earth Day, Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) is pleased to announce that St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Johnson City Tennessee is one of the inspiring winners of Cool Congregations Challenge as the national Energy Saver congregation in the United States. This award recognizes a united effort by religious congregations across the country to address global warming by reducing their carbon footprint and by becoming inspirations to their members and communities.


“Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light congratulates our interfaith partners - St. Mary's and the Green Interfaith Network - for their outstanding work in reducing the church's energy consumption and carbon emissions,” said Louise Gorenflo, Executive Director.  Former Green Interfaith Network’s President Carol Landis stated, “As one of the founding congregations of GINI, St. Mary’s has taken up the challenge of greening their church and succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination. Their dedication to protecting the environment can be one achievement that all congregations in the Tri-Cities area can be proud of.”


The Cool Congregations Challenge is an annual contest by IPL to recognize and inspire congregational leadership in the energy and climate arena. Final entries were received in January, and then judged by a panel of experts from Interfaith Power & Light, EPA’s Energy Star, and the U.S. Green Building Council. Judging criteria included: a well-defined project with measurable objectives for climate benefit, creativity and resourcefulness in executing the project, congregant engagement in the project, and inspiration.


Don Davis, GINI Board member and congregant at St. Mary’s, outlined some of the actions their church did to reduce energy use and save significant money. “Our challenge was to step up to Pope Francis' direction for all to help green the world.  We have been doing recycling, turning off lights when not needed, and have installed a geothermal heating system. There was no money in the church budget for most of the changes we wanted to do.  We not only wanted to save dollars, making our church more energy efficient, but to help the parish to understand the importance of being good stewards of our earth.  The Green Interfaith Network helped us conduct an energy audit of both electric and water systems in our church, school and out buildings to see where we could be more energy efficient. We started with replacing lights with LED lights and put timers on appliances that weren’t used frequently. Then we added a water collections system to provide water to both the community gardens and the school garden and also fixed leaking toilets and drinking fountains, saving 1,000 gallons a month. Within the first six months, St. Mary’s had saved over $1,000 in energy costs and we continue to save thousands of dollars annually.”


The faith communities represent many different religious backgrounds, but all share a common mission – to be good stewards of Creation by responding to the threat of climate change. They do this through activities undertaken in their own facilities and on their grounds that reduce their overall carbon footprint. The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, founder and president of Interfaith Power & Light, says, “Once again, it gives me great pleasure to see the US faith community showing that carbon reduction is possible.  It is creating jobs, saving money and saving Creation.  These congregation winners are serving as examples for their communities and leading the way to a clean energy future. Congratulations to the congregation leaders.”


St. Mary’s Catholic Church will receive one of the five top prizes, a $1,000 check for the use of future conservation projects.

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