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Posted on by Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director, GreenFaith

Energy Services Program Helps Nonprofits Cut Energy Use, Costs, Carbon Footprint

What can a three-person team do to help a nonprofit save thousands of dollars each year?

A lot, it turns out.

Nonprofits that own their own facilities pay energy bills.  Large energy bills.  For many of them, energy is their second highest fixed cost – after personnel-related expenses.

And for nonprofits that make every dollar stretch farther than a plug of Silly Putty, a chance to cut these energy costs is nothing to sneeze at.

Over the past ten years, GreenFaith has helped religious groups across the state cut their energy use, costs, and carbon footprint.  Now, with support from the Community Foundation of New Jersey and the Ohl and Birch Foundations, we’ve launched a pilot effort to help 50-100 nonprofits across the state enjoy these savings too.

The average facility can reduce their energy use between 10-20% through these services. For every $20,000 in energy costs, participating institutions would save $2,000-$4,000 annually.

Groups that participate in the Energy Services Program enjoy four different services.

  • Facility staff and volunteers receive energy management training, learning techniques which enable many nonprofits to reduce their energy use between 5-10% through simple behavioral changes.

  • GreenFaith connects participants with state or utility-approved contractors who audit the nonprofit’s HVAC and lighting systems and provide access to state or utility rebates that can cover 70-80% of the cost of efficiency retrofits.

  • GreenFaith evaluates each participating institution for a zero capital-cost solar array that would generate thousands of dollars in savings annually.

  • Finally, each participating organization receives a quote from a third-party supplier of renewably generated, fixed-cost electricity, at a price lower than most utilities.

It’s important to realize that the state of New Jersey, which provides the efficiency rebates mentioned above, only pays those rebates if you work through a state-approved contractor.  There are under a dozen of these contractors – and the state has established the costs for the services they provide (No need to worry that you’re getting charged too much!).  Even if they want to, other contractors can’t offer you these rebates – a fact that most people don’t understand.

Our program’s director, Anne Rahikainen, is a certified energy auditor.  She’s ready to help coordinate these energy services for nonprofits.  Anne is assembling the next cohort of organizations to launch their energy efforts in April, and we’re enrolling groups on a first-come, first-serve basis.  We’ll also start work with another set of organizations in the fall.

To enroll, nonprofits complete a simple enrollment form, create a 3-member Energy Team which will oversee program efforts at their institution, and pay a one-time registration fee of $100.  To learn more about the Energy Services Program or to enroll, contact Anne at arahikainen@greenfaith.org.   You can learn more about the program by clicking here.

One final word.  Over the past two years, we’ve suffered through some awful storms here in our state.  We know that climate change creates the conditions that lead to more storms like this.  We’ve all got to do our part to be good environmental stewards.  Using energy efficiently should become part of our post-Sandy new normal.  By taking these steps, nonprofits can do our part to create an environmentally sustainable culture.  It may seem small – but it’s vital.

We’d love to work with you through the Energy Services Program.  I hope you’ll contact us.

Rev. Fletcher Harper is Executive Director of GreenFaith, an organization which equips and mobilizes diverse religious groups to green their facilities, worship and spiritual practices, and to advocate for policies that protect the poor from pollution.  Learn more at www.greenfaith.org.

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