Becoming More Sustainable- One Step at a Time
Friar Joe West, one of our priest friars, served as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua parish in Clarksville, Indiana, from 2010 to 2022. In 2011 he noticed that the church building, which was constructed in 1970, still had the original interior lighting fixtures. These fixtures were recessed into the ceiling such that in order to change the bulbs a person had to crawl up into the crawlspace between the ceiling and the roof, a dangerous job year-round. This was done about four times a year. Each of these bulbs were 300-watt incandescent bulbs.
Friar Joe saw this as a problem that needed to be solved. LED light bulbs had come on the market but were not yet widely used. After testing several LED bulbs and deciding which type would be the best for the church setting, the incandescent bulbs were converted to LEDs. The parish reduced its carbon footprint by reducing power usage in just the nave of the church from over 25,000 to 4,800 watts! Most of those bulbs have not been replaced in 11 years freeing up our maintenance crew for other work.
When we realized the savings we enjoyed, we had no problem convincing others that greater energy efficiency was the way to go. It required no installation of new equipment, and for just a small upcharge, we were not only saving a great deal of money on the purchase of energy, but our maintenance staff was happy not to have to spend so much time replacing light bulbs.
Over the next two years, we included our entire campus in energy upgrades: two gymnasiums, the vast majority of our school building, and the friars’ residence were converted to LED lighting. At the time of my departure from St. Anthony’s, very few incandescent or even fluorescent bulbs were utilized on our property.
A few years ago, we installed a high-efficiency heating and air conditioning unit in the church. And, of course, all our appliances are energy star rated.
By reducing our electric load, we have prepared adequately for installing solar panels on the church campus, which will not only reduce our carbon footprint even more than before but will now contribute to the wider community around us.
Friar Joe has left St. Anthony’s in Clarksville, Indiana. He is currently serving as pastor of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Navilleton, Indiana, and St. John the Baptist in Starlight, Indiana. He plans to seek new ways to introduce sustainability in both parishes.