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St. Patrick's Chooses Renewable Energy

Chatham Borough church and school recently chose Viridian's 100% pure green energy plan.

just got a little bit greener.

By selecting Viridian Energy's Pure Green plan and making other environmentally-conscious choices for the renovation of the Parish Center, St. Patrick's church and school have been working hard to “go green."

The Pure Green rate plan, according to Viridian’s website, is a Green-e certified 100 percent renewable energy option, sourced from locally produced, high-quality wind power.

Pure Green, which meets the industry's highest standards for renewable products, enables energy consumers to reduce negative environmental impacts from electricity use and promote sustainable energy solutions through the internationally recognized Green-e platform.

Janice Coviello, a longtime member of the Sierra Club, who volunteers in the township to raise environmental awareness, began working with Viridian in January and introduced the church to the prospect of greener energy at affordable prices.

Coviello, a Patch columnist, explained how the company, which was founded in March 2009, provides an alternate energy supply option to the local utility.

"Your electricity service is made up of three parts: (1) the electricity itself is provided by an electricity generator and is sometimes referred to as electricity "supply" or "generation", (2) the "transmission" of that electricity from the generation facility to your local utility, and (3) the "distribution" or "delivery" of the electricity by the utility over the electric lines that lead to your business or home.

“In the past, the utility provided all three parts of your electric service (supply, transmission, and distribution).  The deregulation of energy has allowed customers the opportunity to choose their electricity supplier," she said.

St Patrick’s began its Environmental Stewardship Committee in 2001 and has recently made several choices that prove its commitment toward protecting the Earth.

They looked at purchasing renewable energy when the electricity market in New Jersey deregulated a decade ago, but that was when green energy was more expensive than the local utility, Coviello said. 

Now, Viridian Energy’s 100 percent green electricity will cost the church slightly less than its conventional regional electricity supplier, JCP&L.

"There is still a projected annual cost savings for St. Patrick's Church of $2,900 with this plan," Coviello explained. The environmentalist noted that if the church leaders had chosen Viridian's Everyday Green Plan, which is comprised of 28.3 percent renewable energy, the annual savings would double, but because of their commitment to the Earth, they chose the more environmentally-friendly option.

Coviello and Kathy Abbott, who won June's Republican primary and will run uncontested in November's general election for one of Chatham Township's two open committee seats, began working on the Viridian project with St. Patrick's in February when the church was considering an alternate energy source.

Abbott, who is also the vice-chairperson of the Environmental Commission in the township, has spent the last decade working with St. Patrick’s on “greening the church.”  

“Kathy is the real heroine of the environmental movement," Coviello said. “When they choose the Pure Green plan, Kathy and I were elated about the environmental impact of their usage."

Coviello said that the annual environmental impact for St. Patrick's choice of 100 percent pure green removes 214,550 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment from non-renewable energy production.

"This is the equivalent of planting 12,738 trees or not driving 236,005 miles by car," Coviello noted. 

Coviello said when they leaders at St. Patrick’s stopped and thought about the idea of protecting what God has given us, the decision to move toward 100 percent renewable electricity became an easy one to make and one she says “shows tremendous leadership in reducing negative environmental impacts and promoting sustainable energy solutions.”

“Since all creation is a blessing from God, the parish places high priority in caring for a world that is shared by people of all faiths and beliefs. Church cannot be complacent on this matter in that each person maintains the responsibility to contribute to this cause, which demonstrates respect toward the lives of future generations,” said the Rev. Bob Mitchell, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church.

“At St. Patrick School, we teach our students to be leaders who serve and celebrate God’s creation.  We teach our students to be aware of ways to improve the environment,” said school Principal Dr. Marian Hobbie.

"This is a passion," said Coviello, who, coincidentally, was married at St. Patrick’s. The Viridian associate said she feels like she's making a difference one meter at a time.

In addition to choosing renewable electricity, St. Patrick's made other environmentally-friendly choices when it came time to renovate the Parish Center.

Jim Greener, president of CTS Group Architecture Planning and St. Patrick Church Facilities Committee member, listed some of the many green aspects to the improvements.

  • The paint used is Benjamin Moore’s zero-VOC, low-odor, “Eco-Spec WB” paint product line.
  • The new lobby and corridor ceiling panels are Armstrong mineral fiber panels with 51 percent recycled content.
  • East/West room carpet tile is manufactured by Interface. They manufacture certified sustainable, climate neutral products utilizing a 100 percent recycled content fiber.
  • The lighting in the lobby, corridors, and East/West room was upgraded, utilizing fixtures with high-level optical designs and energy-efficient ballasts, and T8 or compact fluorescent lamps.
  • The new lobby and corridor flooring is a seamless polymer rubberized terrazzo floor formulated by Stonhard, a USGBC member manufacture. This manufacturer gets high marks for using recycled materials in its products, low-emitting VOC compliant resins, and most importantly, developing a highly-resilient, long lasting surface that easily cleans with a little water rather than chemical cleaners

"Almost 40 percent of the energy usage and carbon emissions in this country can be attributed to buildings," Greener said. "Given that information, it should go without saying that the little decisions we make when selecting equipment and materials for a building upgrade have an enormous impact on the big picture as well on our own energy and building management costs. 

"Many folks believe it is too expensive to use green materials for our renovation projects.  On the contrary, it's much more expensive not to. I am very proud of St. Patrick Church for making the greening of its buildings part of its mission.  It will pay many dividends down the line," he said.

For more information, visit Viridian's website.

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