GLENWOOD SPRINGS — There’s more than meets the eye with a major roof replacement project under way at the First United Methodist Church on Cooper Avenue that’s expected to be completed early next month.
In addition to removing several layers of asphalt and wood shingles to make way for new composition-type shingles, the church also is investing in several energy efficiency upgrades.
That includes new insulation panels on the steep-pitched sanctuary roof and an 11.6-kilowatt solar electric array on the south-facing side of the roof.
Helping to make it possible were two grants from the Aspen-based Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) totaling $37,500, plus another $51,000 in various rebates that went a long way to offset the $257,000 project cost.
“The sanctuary did not have insulation added at the time of the original construction because there was no attic,” explained Bill Cook, who chairs the church’s capital improvements committee.
“When we decided to replace the roof, we thought it would be an ideal time to do the insulation,” he said.
In doing so, members didn’t want to destroy the aesthetics of the wood ceiling panels that grace the inside of the large sanctuary, he said.
So they began exploring the use of structural insulated panels, which are installed on top of the existing roof decking, combining insulation and a new roof deck.
The 12-inch-thick, 4-by-13-foot panels have been going up this past week and, because of their size, required the use of a crane for installation, Cook said.
Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) in Carbondale helped the church in obtaining the CORE grants, including $19,500 for the insulation panels and $18,000 for the solar array.
The organization, in conjunction with Sunsense Solar, which will do the solar installation, also helped the Methodist Church reserve a $12,500 rebate from the Glenwood Springs Electric Co.
CLEER has worked with other churches in the area on similar projects, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Rifle, which now has a 10 kW solar electric system, and The Orchard in Carbondale, which installed an 88 kW system on its roof last year.
The Orchard has the largest rooftop photovoltaic system in Carbondale and, because of its size, was able to obtain investors to help fund the project.
“One of great things about working with churches is that they are interested in lowering their energy costs and they are focused on being good stewards of the Earth,” said Erica Sparhawk, program manager for CLEER.
“It’s a message they can share with their congregations and encourage people to get involved financially,” she said. “That way there’s a potential for having a bigger impact.”
The insulation panels alone on the Glenwood Methodist Church could remove about 7,700 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air annually by reducing the church’s energy consumption, according to CLEER’s estimates.
CLEER has also helped churches upgrade their lighting and heating systems with more energy-efficient systems, she said.
One requirement for obtaining the CORE grants is that the church keep track of energy consumption to determine how much energy is conserved.
“Any kind of energy savings we have is savings to our monthly expenses,” Cook said. “That’s a major goal for a lot of churches.”
Sparhawk said it can be difficult for churches to gauge energy savings compared with other types of buildings, because of the variable operating hours. For churches that have different groups using their facility during the week, though, it makes sense, she said.
“We will be running those monthly comparisons when the project is completed to try to see what the savings are,” Sparhawk said.
FCI Constructors is the general contractor for the Glenwood Methodist Church project, and Sunsense Solar is the solar electric contractor.
Big Sky R-Control is providing the insulation panels, which are being installed by Hilleke Custom Homes of Glenwood Springs. Hurst Roofing is installing the roof, including not only the sanctuary but the other sections of the historic downtown church building as well.