How a church and a historic building in Indiana save energy How a church and a historic building in Indiana save energy

How a church and a historic building in Indiana save energy

Duke Energy’s Business Energy Advisor helps nonprofits and businesses cut costs with energy efficiency upgrades


For Maryland Community Church in Terre Haute, Ind., one annoying and costly maintenance issue kept popping up.

“We were just paying an electrician to come out here and constantly replace bulbs,” said Facility Manager Doug Hall.

Maryland Community Church in Terre Haute, Ind., converted to LED lighting, which uses less energy.

Their electrician suggested exploring energy-efficient options through Duke Energy’s Smart $aver program. Lighting is often the entry point into energy efficiency, said Kimberly Anderson, who has been a resource through Duke Energy’s Business Energy Advisor program in Southern Indiana. 

“The savings is robust,” she said, “the cost is lower than other measures or other types of improvements, and the payback is quick.”

Anderson helped the nondenominational church by creating an energy efficiency road map tracking progress and savings opportunities.

The church began replacing lights in phases: first outdoors, with parking and grounds lighting, and then inside throughout the building. 

The Business Energy Advisor team helps businesses and nonprofits review their energy needs and identify opportunities to reduce their energy use. Duke Energy accelerates savings by offering customers incentives when they purchase and install energy-efficient technology that meets specifications.

Duke Energy's Business Energy Advisor helped the church develop an energy efficiency roadmap and began replacing lights in phases: first outdoors, with parking and grounds lighting. 

One of the biggest projects to tackle was the church’s 1,400-seat sanctuary. The update replaced everything from overhead lighting to emergency exit lighting. New LED lights with dimmers have improved functionality, too. Five zones give production staff more flexibility to adjust lights during Sunday services and special events.

Hall said the church recouped about $12,000 in incentives on that $50,000 project alone. And because the LED lights last longer and use significantly less energy, month after month the church will continue to save.

For Hall, it's part of being a good steward of church finances. “I feel like this is an area that I can control,” he said.

Savings are redeployed into operating expenses and supporting the church’s dozens of ministries. 

The church is now considering updates to the atrium, including adding window tint to the 20-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows. That would reduce the amount of UV light and heat entering the building, Anderson said, and help HVAC equipment last longer by reducing strain on the system.

Brian Kooistra, executive vice president of Gibson Development. The company replaced hundreds of fluorescent and incandescent bulbs with LED lights in the historic building.

In downtown Terre Haute, real estate investor and developer Gibson Development is also exploring ways to extend the life of HVAC equipment and make other energy efficiency improvements on an historic property recently acquired by the company’s owner, Greg Gibson. Built in 1892, the site was the former home of Hulman & Co., best known as the manufacturer of Clabber Girl Baking Soda. 

Now, the 150,000-square-foot building is being transformed in phases into a business and municipal government hub. Seven new tenants include a co-working space, a cafe, and the chamber of commerce. 

“It's just packed full of character and history,” said Brian Kooistra, executive vice president of Gibson Development. 

The building comes with some energy efficiency challenges. The trick, he said, is finding the right balance between preserving character and improving functionality.

Brian Kooistra said Gibson Development worked to preserve the character of the building and improve functionality.

The company has replaced hundreds of higher wattage fluorescent and incandescent bulbs with LED lights. Duke Energy’s incentives allowed for retrofitting the original light fixtures and transforming them from two-lamp units to more efficient and better performing one-lamp units.

Now, Gibson is looking at installing a pump rotation panel for the two 15 horsepower motors that circulate water to the building’s heat pumps. This will allow for staggered run times so the HVAC equipment doesn’t waste energy functioning simultaneously all the time. 

It’s much cheaper than replacing an entire unit, Anderson said, prolongs the life of equipment and saves money by reducing energy use.

Kooistra said Duke Energy’s team has streamlined the process, by answering questions and offering incentive programs. He’s grateful for Anderson’s hands-on approach, visiting the building to talk through recommendations, and to Duke Energy’s longtime community relations manager Rick Burger, who connected him to the team.

“He’s Duke Energy's biggest cheerleader,” Kooistra said, “and is really a great resource for people like me.”

About Business Energy Advisor

Duke Energy’s Business Energy Advisor team helps nonresidential customers find ways to lower their energy bill, including rebates and incentives for energy improvement projects. 

More information: Business Energy Advisor.


More Stories About Making a Difference