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University UCC continues to save energy

Before Mike O’Donnell started as facilities manager five years ago at University Congregational UCC in Seattle, the church had already replaced all of its lighting as part of a major renovation in 2005. The church used most of its energy rebates at that time.

Having served as facilities manager with a business and state government, so was familiar with the requirements.

“The system is set up with an automatic computer-programmed sensor, so if someone leaves the room, the lights go out, he said.

Similarly, there is an automated system that regulates when burners of the two furnaces are on and off. With them trading off, the furnaces will last longer.

“We work hard to watch where the gas is going and watch energy use,” he said. “We can now just heat the chapel, not the whole end of the building.”

Recently University church changed all lights in the sanctuary to LED lights, at a cost of $1,800.
He said that the lights will last 40 to 50 years, using less energy and reducing the number of trips to the attic to change lights.

“The conversion to LED was easy,” O’Donnell said. “I’m retired military, so I was able to use a 15 percent discount I have.”

He has also been weather stripping through the building, particularly around eight glass doors on the north end.

“It blocks the cold air out and keeps the warm air in,” he said, adding that utility companies come and do energy screenings to suggest changes and estimate the savings.

As part of a $2 million capital campaign, University church has included $45,000 to replace 1950s style windows to help with saving energy.

The capital campaign includes some other energy saving options.

For information, call 206-524-2322, email or visit

Copyright © April-May 2013 Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News


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