We had the good fortune this month working with Jerry Lawson, National Director of EPA’s ENERGY STAR for Congregations program.
Lawson has been with EPA since 1990, and was instrumental in the formation of ENERGY STAR 21 years ago, the agency’s first voluntary and market-based program to address climate change. And since 1997 when the program began targeting building energy use performance he has adapted program resources for the faith community and small businesses.
So his perspective nationally is deep and broad.
We started working with Lawson in helping set up a webinar for one of our project partners — Lutherans Restoring Creation and their Energy Stewards Initiative (ESI). It is expanding in its second year engaging congregations nationally to take action to reduce the financial and environmental costs of their facilities.
Lawson did a great job in the webinar. But his perspective on the LRC program was a “terrific boost in support and morale” noted ESI founder Dave Rhoads.
Observed Lawson after the webinar and after he had learned much more about the program:
“The Energy Stewards Initiative is one of the few energy stewardship programs in the country that actually facilitates and documents concrete achievements in saving energy, saving money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“While there are many well-intended, but merely ‘feel good’ faith-based energy efficiency pledges, campaigns, challenges, covenants, etc., only a few are really generating and verifying actual results. Further, ESI is on track to shepherd a good many congregations to earning national ENERGY STAR certification.
“Therefore, I am pleased to call out and recognize the solid achievements being tracked by the Energy Stewards Initiative and will hold it up as an example for denominations and other faith-based groups who really want to make a difference in congregational cash-flow back to the ministry from energy costs and to preventing pollution that threatens human life and health.”
We thought this program was doing good work. But we did not know how unique and valuable it is in comparison to others working on this front nationally.
It is gratifying for us to be working with Lutherans Restoring Creation and a similar project partner — the Ohio Interfaith Power and Light’s “Leading Interfaith Energy Conservation” project.