Mission Green Annual Report 2023

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Achieves Carbon Neutrality/Net Zero in 2023

Mission Green and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church are celebrating a major partnership milestone this year. In 2023, the church achieved carbon neutrality/net zero energy use, thanks to the efforts of its Mission Green initiative and the support of the congregation.

The journey to carbon neutrality continued in January, when the church switched to 100% electric power by installing 3 LG heat pumps. These heat pumps were put to the test in February when a 3-day, -17-degree cold snap hit the area. The pumps functioned well even at low temperatures, proving that the church’s switch to electric power was a wise decision.

In addition to switching to electric power, the church made a number of other changes to reduce its carbon footprint. In February, the gas meter was removed, further reducing the church’s reliance on fossil fuels. The ceiling tile system was replaced, and the vents in the Sanctuary were relocated to improve energy efficiency.

Excavation for the future courtyard began in early spring. A 2000-gallon fuel tank was removed (it was empty), and the old bell foundation was removed. The French drain excavation was completed, footings/piers for the pergola were poured, drainage pipe was laid, and 200 tons of crushed gravel were compacted (every 5”) for the French drain.

In July, under grueling hot days, the post and beam pergola was erected, the permeable pavers were laid, and all electrical was installed. The rooftop furnaces were removed, and the siding was repaired.

In August, the solar array was installed, which completed the church’s transition to 100% renewable energy. The electrical hookups for the solar were completed in late August, and the 27 kW of solar on the pergola went live on the grid. Good Shepherd was now Carbon Neutral/Net Zero.

The courtyard/pergola/solar array was completed in September with a screen fence over the electrical service entrances. An area adjacent to the courtyard was hydroseeded. Good Shepherd held a dedication of the Solar Courtyard on September 10, 2023. 

An application was made, received and awarded, by Interfaith Power and Light to Good Shepherd Lutheran church, to acknowledge attaining 100% Carbon Neutral/Net Zero status. Good Shepherd is now designated as a Cool Congregation Platinum Level. We are only 1 of 3 congregations nationwide to achieve this status in 2023.

In November, the back lawn was leveled, regraded, and hydro seeded. A 4,000 sq. ft. pollinator prairie was also seeded at that time. All of this hydroseeding was a “dormant seeding”, meaning the seeds will lay in the snow til spring when they’ll germinate and grow. It’s supposed to be one of the best times of the year to start lawns and this is the preferred method. It also eliminates the need for extensive watering at first. It may require it later in the year if we experience another dry summer season.

Since April, the church’s Alliant Electric bills have averaged approximately $23 per month, which is a meter hookup charge. When a full year of net metering occurs (2024), the church should achieve 100% net metering, based on current knowledge.

The Mission Green initiative has served as presenters at numerous conferences, Zoom meetings, tours, and presentations of the completed Good Shepherd Carbon Neutral Initiative. Our commitment to the environment has been an inspiration to other organizations and individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

In summary, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has achieved an impressive feat in 2023 by becoming carbon neutral/net zero energy use. Their journey has been one of hard work, dedication, and a commitment to making a difference in the world. Our efforts serve as a shining example to others looking to reduce their impact on the environment.