Request a Makeup Confirmation
Once you have spent at least one-half hour on our website, use the button above to request a makeup confirmation. Please use your 30 minute visit to review a variety of articles from our Programs section and/or information from our web site pages. As always, Rotarians should apply the 4-Way Test to the time they spend on the Rotary eClub One site for a make-up.
Do you have a program or an idea for a program? Please click here for submission details.
The Optimistic Futurist: Faith and Energy Policy
by Francis P.
Koster Ed. D.
In this article I am going to
show one area where some public policy goals peacefully join with faith
Energy is such a vital life
support that where we get it and how we use it seriously impacts the design of
our society. This is an area loaded
with ethical and moral choices. All sorts of trade-offs exist, including how we
reconcile the risks of supply interruption by other nations with national
defense issues, to creation of life
shortening pollution, and social equity concerns about the impact of the rising
costs of energy on the less well off.
We have made some
progress. Since 1970, energy
consumption per American citizen has dropped from one dollar of energy costs
for every five dollars of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to one out of every ten
in 2012 - a real success story.
There are two main drivers for
this. First is the "price
effect" - prices have gone up, so usage has gone down. Second, government
regulation has resulted in things like higher mileage per gallon cars, more
efficient light bulbs, and tighter building codes. We still have a significant opportunity to
The part about people using
less of something as it gets more expensive is easy to understand. Less clear to many is the role of government regulation
in the energy use arena.
Decades ago a number of national
incentives were put in place to encourage energy efficiency. These incentive programs allowed "for-profit"
organizations to deduct some or all of the costs of energy conservation investment
from their taxes. These programs worked,
and contributed to the success story.
However, these incentive
programs did not help the "not-for-profit " sector. A "not-for-profit" like a church,
town hall, library or hospital does not pay taxes, so there is no place on a tax
form to take a deduction on, and a large portion of the financial motivator for
behavior change goes missing. This leads
to huge expensive waste, and is a national missed opportunity.
In this group sits churches -
an architectural segment with special challenges like un-insulated stained glass
windows, very large spaces used only a few hours a week when compared to a supermarket
of the same size, and often part-time or volunteer maintenance staff. Often, little knowledge of the possible ways
to be energy conserving exists in the congregation.
Interfaith Power & Light
is a national blessing working to help churches reduce energy expenditures.
Begun in 1998 in California by an Episcopalian
priest, The Rev. Sally Bingham, there are now 10,000 member congregations active
in this program in 40 states. Some
congregations start by having knowledgeable members teach other members how to
do home energy audits, and explain the great financial savings that will
result. Others form teams, sometimes
partnering with local schools, community colleges and universities, and do
energy audits of the church property. Both
of these efforts have paid off nicely.
In North Carolina, Ms. Susannah
Tuttle, the Director of North Carolina's Interfaith Power and Light
headquartered in Raleigh, reports that discussions within congregation
membership about reducing energy, pollution, and climate changing gases have
the unique ability to let a broad spectrum of membership set aside their
differences and work together around the notion that a dollar saved on energy
is a dollar that can be redirected toward the churches' mission.
Ms. Tuttle reports some
wonderful success stories.
The First Presbyterian
Church of Asheville has a lovely old sanctuary, constructed in 1890s and
renovated in 1951. A traditional "churchy" looking building with bell
towers and stained glass window, it has 43 foot tall ceilings. An energy audit done by congregation members
identified six projects with great potential to save money.
The first project was to
replace the innards of 60 year old lights way up high in the sanctuary. Total cost was $4,000.00, and first year
savings in lighting costs alone were $5,353 - a rate of return of 133%
compounded for the life of the lamps! Over
the first 5 years, savings are projected to be $26,764.00 - all of which can be
now placed in furthering the churches mission.
The other projects will also pay handsome dividends.
We do not need to keep
fighting amongst ourselves. By following
the example of the faith community we can identify ways to create win/wins,
reduce waste, and increase the amount of money available for helping
others. We can bring about a positive
future. Will you show these examples to members of your congregation, start a
similar program, and help move our
To see the sources
of facts used in this article, and learn of other successful money and life
saving programs that can be implemented locally to create a better future for
our country, go to www.TheOptimisticFuturist.org
Francis P. Koster is a member of the Rotary Club of KannapolisRequest a Makeup Confirmation