Green Stewardship

A Kingdom-Minded Approach to Sustainability on Ministry-Based Building Projects

Design choices early on can have a significant impact on the sustainability of your building, property and resources in the future. Sustainable building alternatives can increase efficiencies, sustain the environment and create significant economic return.

Many non-profits cannot justify the high expense involved with LEED Certification, which includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings aimed to help owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.

However, there are a number of sustainable concepts that ministries and other non-profits can incorporate into the design of their building to reduce life cycle costs and lower its impact on the environment, which allows us to glorify God through our careful stewardship of His creation. 

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Don Mahoney, Principal Architect at Building God's Way, formerly led a committee for the American Institute of Architects called C.O.T.E. – Committee on the Environment & Energy. When Don joined BGW in 2003, he brought a wealth of knowledge in this area of sustainable building. However, BGW ministry clients that attempted to achieve LEED certification were seldom able to accomplish the requirements for the project because they were cost-prohibitive. This led to the establishment of BGW's unique approach, called "Green Stewardship", which focuses on realistic sustainable strategies that ministries can incorporate into their projects. 

Building Orientation & Envelope

Temperature changes from season to season have a significant impact on a building's energy use and occupant comfort. Green Stewardship starts with identifying the best building orientation on the site to optimize sun exposure and then designing an efficient building envelope that reduces heat transfer. A heated building will lose heat to its colder exterior in the winter and, during the summer, an air-conditioned building will draw heat from its very warm exterior. This makes the concept of thermal control a very important part of the design process, with the goal of having a more energy efficient building.

building orientation & envelope church building

The architects understanding of heat transfer and how certain building materials can be used to impede it is the first step in meeting this objective. In addition to energy-efficient insulation, this also includes the use of windows with Low-E glass that reflect heat, the strategic placement of windows, sky lights and doors to avoid west-facing glass where possible, and the consideration of light-colored, highly reflective roofing materials. By making sound decisions early on in the design process about the building orientation and envelope, there is less solar heat load to contend with, resulting in lower HVAC system costs and improved indoor thermal comfort.

Innovative Building Systems & Products

The architect’s specifications of products within the building will have a major impact on energy efficiency through long-term maintenance and operation costs. Architects working on ministry-based projects should carefully select innovative products that extend the life of your building and bring ongoing savings.

BGW Architects has an exclusive partnership with the non-profit Cornerstone Building Supply, which has negotiated factory-direct pricing with leading manufacturers across the country who have a heart to support Christian ministry, eliminating at least one layer of mark up, sometimes more.

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When selecting manufacturers to partner with, Cornerstone researches the most innovative and highest quality products that can deliver not only the best up-front savings, but also the lowest long term "life-cycle" costs. One of the most critical considerations for energy efficiency is the heating & cooling and air delivery systems within the building. Cornerstone has had a long-time partnership with Lennox to offer exclusive pricing to BGW church and Christian school clients. The Lennox Energence® rooftop unit is the most energy-efficient light commercial rooftop unit on the market, and is one of the lowest total cost of ownership units available.

Cornerstone partners with a wide range of manufacturers that offer innovative and energy efficient solutions, from maintenance free flooring products that are made from recycled or recyclable materials to restroom fixtures that reduce water usage by as much as 60%. Cornerstone's goal is to ensure that ministry buildings remain affordable to operate and maintain, so that these dollars can be invested back into ministry objectives.

Cornerstone church building
Factory-Direct church design
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For more information on how your church or Christian school can incorporate "Green Stewardship" principles on your next building or remodel project, contact us today to schedule your free consultation!