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Photo: LaGrave Avenue CRC
Photo by LaGrave Avenue CRC

LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., has become the second CRC congregation in West Michigan and the third in the denomination to receive the ENERGY STAR rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, the CRC office in Grand Rapids also holds the rating, which is awarded to facilities that have taken on a range of energy-saving measures. Along with the rating comes a plaque to install for people to see.

“We have a cross on the steeple of our church telling the world that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Now we will have a symbol in our building telling all who enter that we are in the top 25 percent of similar buildings in the U.S. in terms of energy use and that we take seriously God’s call to care for his creation,” said James Reiffer, a member of LaGrave’s new creation care team.

The process to achieve the rating, said Reiffer, was fairly simple, given that the church was already doing what was needed in order to be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

“All the paperwork was done by Consumers Energy, and they submitted the data to the EPA. Other than the time we put in, there was no cost to be involved in this program,” he said.

The church has long been vigilant in instituting different energy-saving measures, ranging from its use of water and recyclable materials to how it handles its lighting and its heating and cooling.

“What we do know is that our custodian, Dave DeHoek, is vigilant in keeping energy use in our building to a minimum by manually turning on systems (HVAC and lighting) as needed. In the words of the independent contractor, Dave pays for his salary by what he does,” said Reiffer.

Church of the Servant (COS) Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., received the ENERGY STAR certification earlier this year.

COS has committed itself to creation care by, over time, landscaping with drought-resistant grass and plants, adding insulation and white thermoplastic roofing, replacing HVAC equipment with high-efficiency units, replacing most of its lighting with LED or high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs, and adding a Solar Array system to conserve energy.

Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Ill., was the first congregation in the CRC to be given ENERGY STAR certification, receiving its award in 2016.

ENERGY STAR is a voluntary U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that delivers environmental benefits and financial value through energy efficiency.

Since 1992, in addition to labeling the most energy-efficient products and homes, the ENERGY STAR program has partnered with businesses and public-sector organizations to transform the way that commercial buildings and industrial plants use energy.

Among other things, facilities such as churches that obtain the certification must follow EPA guidelines in reaching an acceptable limit of greenhouse gases that they emit.

The Office of Social Justice is encouraging congregations through its Climate Witness Project to make the changes necessary to reduce their use of energy.

These effort stem from Synod 2012’s adoption of the Creation Stewardship Task Force report urging churches and ministries of the CRC to do all they can to address environmental issues as a matter of practicing their faith.