Good Shepherd receives 2 national sustainability awards!

In the fall of 2023, the congregation received the “Cool Congregation – Platinum Medallion” certification for becoming all-electric, Carbon Neutral and Net Zero Energy use from the Interfaith Power and Light organization. Additionally, in February 2024, the Good Shepherd Carbon Neutral Initiative won the top national prize from IPL under the “Energy Saver” category for their sustainability efforts which will eliminate 25 tons of Carbon Emissions annually. This award included a $1,000 cash prize to the congregation.

Pr. Amy Zalk Larson accepts the “Cool Congregation – Platinum Medallion” certificate from Mission Green owners, Jim and Liz Fritz

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.

Mission Green Advocacy

Mission Green Advocacy

As a Cool Congregation recipient, the Good Shepherd Carbon Neutral Initiative has received much attention. The project is currently featured on the Interfaith Power and Light national website: as well as the Iowa Interfaith Power and Light website: 
Jim and Liz Fritz – Mission Green LLC presenting at the Iowa Energy Summit.
Mission Green has also presented the Good Shepherd Church Carbon Neutral Project at multiple events. Here is what we’ve been doing!

8/15/23 Winneshiek Energy District presentation and Good Shepherd tour
9/1/23 Benji Nichols/Inspired podcast – Rhymes with Decorah:
10/7/23 Interfaith Power and Light tour of Good Shepherd Church
10/25/23 Interfaith Power and Light/UCC Church National Webinar – Holy Heat Pumps! webinar:
10/31/23 email correspondence w/John Wilkerson re: Holladay UCC, Holladay, Utah re: efforts to install heat pumps/solar
11/2/23 Zoom meeting with Eli Sadow-Hasenberg re: Oberlin UCC church heat pumps
11/4/23 Citizens Climate Lobby National Meeting Webinar – Presentation and Good Shepherd tour
11/6/23 interview with David Mitchel of KKFI radio in Kansas City, MO
11/8/23 Iowa Energy Summit: building innovation presentation for 50 energy industry attendees – sponsored by Iowa Economic Development Authority
11/9/23 Robert Wollenburg, building committee, Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran, NYC, reaching out for help with heat pumps
11/13/23 Zoom presentation & video of Good Shepherd Carbon Initiative project for NEIowa Citizen’s Climate Lobby 
Jim’s KKFI Radio interview will be broadcast live on Tuesday, November 14, at 6 pm. You may listen to it online via a computer or smartphone at, then hit the red “Listen Live” button. It’s a streaming service and will be archived at some time following the live broadcast.