You know something I never really considered before? I never really stopped to consider the potential benefit both to and from places of worship if they were to implement greener practices. I’m sure some of you who service this market segment are shaking your heads at the no-brainer, but I’ve just recently stopped to think about the impact. The estimated number of places of worship in the United States is somewhere around 450,000. If you think of how many of these facilities were built during suburban expansion in the ’70s and ’80s, the building age puts many of them in the category of requiring remodeling and updating of technology. And what better time for them to rebuild green. And, at the same time, implement green practices… which could include green AV.
I recently met the most interesting AV professional, Aaron Hope, on Twitter. In an ensuing conversation, he really opened my eyes to the opportunities for a house of worship to “go green” — and how beneficial this could be. He said what first caught his attention was the use of the church bulletin. We’ve all seen those — the paper they hand you and most people glance at then throw away? Well, his thought was that those bulletins could easily be replaced as a simple first step to starting greener practices, perhaps by a mobile app or other electronic communications.
Elevating that thought, Aaron said that the age of so many of these buildings makes it tough to take them digital and AV over IP is almost an impossibility. They also have major issues with monitoring energy efficiency and monitoring, with many HVAC systems that still don’t even have thermostats! Imagine the potential impact of a control system. With many of these churches using capital campaigns to raise funding for new construction or improvements to existing facilities, proposing to “go green” could be a great way to garner more funds and support for the campaign.
Currently, there are a couple of bigger picture options for houses of worship. First, a church could definitely choose to pursue LEED certification for new construction or existing buildings. A handful have done so already and you can see those here. Another alternative would be the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star program for congregations, which has approximately 2,000 participants and claims they can cut a facilities cost by an average of 30 percent. One church in Plano, Tex., cut its $2 million energy budget by 50 percent by following the Energy Star program! A full listing of resources is available here on the EPA website. Finally, an interesting interfaith group, GreenFaith, has a TON of ideas and tips for any house of worship.
The pro AV industry has long been closely tied to the house of worship marketplace. For many decades, our equipment has supported the delivery of countless sermons, homilies and other holy lessons. We know these clients are continuously searching for ways to not only inspire their congregations with great ideas and powerful experiences, but also to responsibly use the funding given to them by their members. Providing them with insight on sustainability is an excellent way to strengthen our consultative role and help them support their most pressing goals.