St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center completes solar upgrades
Things are sunshine bright for the parishioners of St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center now that a solar-powered lighting upgrade to LED lighting has been completed. And an incentive grant from Duke Energy for lighting upgrade with the operating savings will ensure a payoff of the $127,465 project in less than three and one-half years.
Tony Stieritz of the archdiocesan Catholic Social Action Office, said the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is a pilot project for Catholic Climate Covenant, an effort that sprang from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si. The program supplies resources for parishes undertaking energy efficiency upgrades, Stieritz said. It is also designed to help secure financing for those projects. However, in the case of St. Monica-St. George, parishioners and Franciscan Father Al Hirt, pastor, raised the money themselves.
Contractor Matt Kolbinsky, president of PRO Lighting & Solar LLC, Cincinnati, said the parish contacted him about a solar project after it had received other proposals, but his was the only one that recommended that the parish first replace its old lighting system. “I told them to cut consumption first by replacing their very old lighting,” he recalled.
Kolbinsky said a parishioner, Brent Neese, had 30 years of data on energy consumption and was able to project the savings estimates that showed the project would be paid off in less than 3.5 years.
“Churches are all custom jobs because each is different,” Kolbinsky, who hails from St. Ann Parish in Groesbeck, where new lighting has been installed. “I’ve been blessed to see these projects like the one’s at St. Martin’s and St. Ann’s,” he said.
Kolbinsky, who can be reached at (513) 378-2535, said he is happy to discuss such projects with any church in the archdiocese. He is complimentary of the Catholic Climate Covenant program, which has an educational component on Care for Creation, that can be access through Stieritz at (513) 421-3131, ext. 2660.
Stieritz said he expects to see many more parishes step up to join those undergoing energy efficient retrofits.
Only one obstacle had to be overcome for the St. Monica-St. George project: The 100-year-old building needed a study by a structural engineer to ensure the roof could support the additional five to eight pounds per square foot that the solar array would add to the roof’s weight. When it was determined that the roof had to be reinforced, that also became part of the project.
Kolbinsky said an additional three-phase electrical panel also had to be added to the building power service, but that most of the existing wiring was adapted to the new lighting and feed from the clean energy source.
The estimated savings on energy cost and maintenance was projected at $24,465 a year. The Duke Energy incentive for the lighting component of the project was $46,123. In all the $127,465 project was completed for $81,342, plus the cost of strengthening the roof.
Scripture Connection: When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Likewise, you shall not pick your vineyard bare, nor gather up the grapes that have fallen. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. Leviticus 19:9-10