On the second day of the conference, it was my turn to present and the topic was “The Future of Buildings.”  I don’t know exactly how this title came about, but it was a result of our discussion with COIPL Executive Director Betty Goebel.  We wanted to talk about buildings in the most global fashion, and to include religious facilities, residences, and other building types.  I asked myself “what do I wish everybody know about buildings and energy performance?”

The first key point was that buildings consume more energy, and produce more greenhouse gases, than either of the other two major economic activities in our modern world – transportation and industry.  In fact, buildings account for approximately 48% of energy use.  In short, buildings, and how we design them, really matter.

The second point was that all the religious facilities in the United Stated comprise approximately 4% of the non-residential building stock, but use only 2% of the non-residential building energy.  So, although we earnestly desire that every religious building be as energy efficient as possible, and contribute the minimum amount of greenhouse gas, doing so will not substantially alter the environmental problems we face.

Rather, faith based communities should do all they can to conserve energy for two other reasons.

  1. Conserving energy frees financial resources that can be dedicated to mission.
  2. Exercising stewardship in our own houses of worship sets an example for others to follow in other arenas of their lives.