Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

February 20, 2014

Forum: Energy efficiency pays off in many ways

These sub-zero temperatures have been challenging for all of us. As we try to keep our homes and offices comfortable, we crank up our thermostats and brace for higher utility bills. However, there are many things we can all do to cut down on our use of electricity and gas, save money and be more sustainable.

As my parish, Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church, embarks on designing a new sanctuary, one of our highest priorities is striving for energy efficiency by building a self-sustainable campus with a low-carbon footprint. Using sod roofing and angled exterior walls creates greater efficiency in the structure. It also makes a statement to passers-by that in addition to caring for our neighbors, the Orthodox care for our shared “home,” which is the natural environment.

This spring begins the second year of the Angels Community Garden, which serves as a living lesson on improving the physical and spiritual health of the local community. This is the beginning of a larger project, aimed at becoming a self-sustainable, organic, healthy and efficient source of food for people — just like the original “design” of the Garden of Eden. Wastefulness and ignorance are against our purpose on this blessed planet.

Our efforts to become more energy efficient don’t have to end at the church. We encourage our members and our neighbors to do what they can to become more efficient at home. Whether it’s a homeowner updating an old, inefficient furnace, a congregation installing a new lighting system, or a small-business owner adding insulation, energy efficiency benefits all of us.

Making our homes and work places more energy efficient reduces pollution and gives Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water. Michigan’s coal plants emit dangerous levels of mercury, sulfur dioxide and arsenic, which are linked to heart disease, childhood asthma, lung disease, and premature death. Reducing our energy consumption through efficiency improvements will result in a healthier state, while also reducing health care costs incurred because of pollution.

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