Let there be cost-effective light: Boston boasts grant for houses of worship

Houses of worship are supposed to provide light and guidance to individuals with faith. Many of these old buildings, with their towering stained glass windows and lofty ceilings, provide a safe and nurturing environment for those who attend services. For all their benefits, though, the design of these houses of worship could be putting an unnecessary burden on the environment.

In Massachusetts, a new grant may help respond to this concern by providing incentives to boost energy efficiency in both these buildings and in the homes of those who attend services. Just as religious buildings facilitate community-building and working together, the Massachusetts grant reduces the energy use of these buildings through collaboration.

"Polluting the planet is antithetical to all major religions, since they teach caring for creation," U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and Dr. William Bennett wrote in a Partners For Sacred Places pamphlet. "Also, huge energy bills can financially cripple the congregation, radically reducing the services they can deliver through the house of worship to the community."

According to The Boston Globe, the grant – sponsored by the Barr Foundation, local energy efficiency organization HEET and Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light – will fund energy efficiency upgrades, such as heating and insulation, to religious buildings whose attendees make renovations to their homes. The program begins on Earth Day – April 22 – and homeowners in a select few Boston communities can get started simply by requesting an energy audit from HEET.

In other parts of the country, homeowners should always be on the lookout for these types of programs. The long-term financial benefits derived from home energy efficiency are significant in and of themselves, but incentive programs should be enough to convince any homeowner that reforms should be made. By contacting a Washington, D.C. home inspector, Tri-State residents can begin working toward energy efficiency immediately.

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