One of the most positive trends in church architecture in recent years is the increasing use of more sustainable, environment-friendly designs. To lead the way towards the use of renewable sources of energy, some churches have already taken the initiative to reduce their carbon footprint by harnessing solar power to supply the electricity needs of their church.
Advantages of using solar energy
While solar energy was widely criticized initially for being too expensive or inefficient, new studies have now proved that it is extremely beneficial, both for the environment and the private economy.
With solar panel grants and increasingly competitive market prices, solar energy is now being used as the main source of energy for many homes, office buildings, and yes – faith-based facilities such as churches. Solar technology has also drastically improved over the past decade, and with the addition of new technology such as solar battery storage systems, it has now turned into a more efficient and reliable source of clean energy.
In this page, we’ll take a look at several churches in Illinois that have made the shift to solar energy.
Church of the Good Shepherd
One of the first churches in Illinois to install solar panels is The Church of the Good Shepherd in Carbondale. Members say the church has always been focused on being a progressive community, and becoming one of the first churches in the state to make use of renewable energy was a great opportunity for them to lead by example.
StraightUp Solar installed 24 solar panels at The Church of the Good Shepherd in 2018. Since then, the panels have been powering everything from the church’s lights to its electronic organ. According to Solar Project Developer Brent Ritzel, the panels will help the church get 40 years’ worth of energy for around just 15 months’ worth of energy costs.
The church continuously saves money through the solar panels, even at night. And because the church is not used seven times a week, its normal electricity bill is only around $1,000 annually, helping it save nearly $40,000 in a span of 25 years.
Christ Covenant Church
Another early adopter of solar energy is Christ Covenant Church in Chicago, which pre-purchased 20 years of service from SolarCity back in 2012. SolarCity is a subsidiary of Tesla, owned by Elon Musk.
Although the original cost for outfitting the church with solar panels was $450,000, it was dropped down to $290,000 for Christ Covenant, as SolarCity was able to claim the tax credit for the installation. Making use of solar energy has helped the church reduce their yearly electricity bill by $15,000. The savings has given Christ Covenant an excellent opportunity to extend help and support, as they have given 10% of these savings to other organizations in and around their community.
With solar power, Christ Covenant Church will be able to offset the following over the next 25 years:
- 5,220,000 lbs. of greenhouse gas
- 14,500 lbs. of acid rain
- 17,400 lbs. of smog
- 2.61 million lbs. of coal being burned
River City Community Church
Located in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park, River City Community Church is another church that has made the decision to shift to solar energy to make a lasting impact.
Like Christ Covenant Church, River City Community Church also found the project too expensive, as they needed $330,000 to cover startup costs. Fortunately, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation gave the church a $400,000 reimbursable grant to make the project a reality, reimbursing the church over the next 16 months with installment fees.
With the solar panels installed, all of the church’s electricity needs are now supplied by solar energy, helping them reduce their bills from around $1,000 a month to only $138 a month. According to Antoine Taylor, the church’s director of ministry operations, the installation of solar panels is a sign of a thriving community that will ultimately attract more companies and businesses to invest in Chicago and provide resources to more struggling communities in the area.
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