On today’s show we welcome Liz & Jim Fritz, both (mostly!) “retired” music educators from Decorah, and longtime members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. As it turns out, Liz & Jim also have a long track record of home improvement, efficiency, and sustainability projects, stemming from lifelong interests and opportunities to make their corner of the world a better place. Listen in to hear how they were able to help their hometown congregation forge the right partnerships to take on a major remodeling project while becoming a carbon neutral congregation! (Spoiler - it involves Mission Green LLC!)
The solution for this project came from many conversations. Jim and Liz worked first with their Congregation, and then with local sustainability mentors Larry Grimstad, Andy Johnson (Winneshiek Energy District), Joel Zook (Alliant Energy), Jim Martin-Schramm (Professor Emeritus of Religion at Luther College), Amy Bouska (Howard County Energy District), and others to brainstorm and dream about the possibilities for this project. They also worked to create and develop a business plan forming Mission Green LLC (a mission with a company).
Would a carbon-neutral project fit in with their ideas? Can you grow a business using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)? Could this idea/business model allow Good Shepherd to lower energy bills and their carbon footprint? Could this include some of the ideas for a renewed outdoor space for the congregation?
The result of these conversations and questions was a proposal from Mission Green to enable a Carbon Neutral Project for Good Shepherd. Mission Green would create a business relationship with the Good Shepherd congregation, and see the successful project through, including:
Selling the congregation electricity at lower fixed costs through a PPA (purchase power agreement).
Eliminating their use of carbon-based fuels by installing and leasing heat pumps, while removing eyesores on the roof.
Providing an opportunity to fix water drainage problems of an unused outdoor space (French drain).
Update/upgrade all service entrances to the entire facility.
Providing solar panels for rooftop installation (21 kW, 52 bi-facial).
Creating a 37'x37' solar canopy (27 kW, 50 bi-facial panels) with a waterproof racking system on a Douglas Fir post and beam pergola.
Installing a permeable paver courtyard directly over the French drain, with sound and light amenities.
Good Shepherd is now 100% electric. The gas meter was removed in February 2023. The Good Shepherd Carbon Neutral Project has replaced the fossil fuel HVAC system with four geothermal heat pumps, three air-to-air heat pumps, and a mini-split unit. It can heat/air condition the entire facility using solar electricity, all created onsite. LED lighting throughout the whole campus also reduces the overall electrical needs. Other efforts by the congregation to lower their Carbon Footprint include planting over 20 trees on the campus greenspace and considering adding a prairie wildflower/pollinator garden.
Once the PPA and lease are completed, the congregation can use previous energy dollars for mission dollars instead. We're proud of our combined efforts to Move the Needle in the fight against climate change.