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Frank Gorke

Frank Gorke

Director, Energy Efficiency Division, Department of Energy Resources

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First Parish Photo

The First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Needham is the first house of worship in Massachusetts to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR award, a national certificate awarded to energy efficiency leaders. The church, which received a 94 score out of a 100-point scale, is one of nine 2010 ENERGY STAR small business and congregation award winners from across the nation. Following a renovation, the 174 year-old, 15,000-square-foot building increased in size by 25 percent. Despite the larger building envelope, energy usage decreased by 30 percent. Energy costs have been reduced by 50 percent and the facility's carbon footprint has been reduced by 43 percent. This was achieved by implementing numerous energy efficiency measures and “green” features in the building including:

  • High-efficiency gas-fired condensing hot water boiler;
  • Variable frequency drives for the hot water heating pumps;
  • An improved ventilation system that incorporates heat recovery and variable frequency drives;
  • Building-wide energy management system for optimum control of the HVAC systems, including remote web access;
  • High-efficiency air conditioning, with eco-friendly refrigerants and individual temperature control;
  • High-efficiency light fixtures throughout with CFL lights and motion-controlled switches in offices and classrooms;
  •  ENERGY STAR qualified appliances;
  • Building insulation throughout, including the 12-inch empty cavity walls of historic sanctuary;
  •  High-efficiency argon-filled windows; and
  • Various materials with high-recycled content such as Marmoleum sheet flooring in the kitchen.

Beginning in 2005, the congregation undertook a capital campaign and raised $2.5 million to fund a renovation of the building, which was built in 1836. A congregational building committee facilitated the renovation process, receiving input from all the congregation members through open meetings and surveys.

"Building green was not the only objective," states Edward Quinlan, property committee chairman. "There were many 'needs' competing for finite dollars. The building committee tried to maximize the energy saving potential by scrutinizing available technologies and employing those that promised a good return-on-investment. Committee members were very knowledgeable and able to study plans and specifications to ensure consistency with our goals."

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) congratulates the First Parish upon receiving this impressive award from EPA and encourages congregation members to spread the word on the exciting opportunities to become an energy efficient leader. For more information, check out the following links:

The First Parish Website

Labeled Building Profile

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As Deputy Director of DOER's Green Communities Division, Lisa helps lead a team devoted to working with Massachusetts cities and towns to realize environmental and cost benefits of municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy. Prior to joining DOER, Lisa worked in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs from 2007 to 2012, first as Press Secretary and then as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Public Affairs. Her previous communications and public relations experience includes both government and the private sector, where, as principal of upWrite Communications, she served clients such as The Trustees of Reservations, The Nature Conservancy, and Partners Health Care/North Shore Medical Center. She began her career as a journalist, covering Beacon Hill for the State House News Service, and later wrote for a variety of other publications including The Boston Globe, Teacher Magazine, Animals Magazine, and The Gulf of Maine Times. The author of two books, Lisa serves on the board of the Saugus River Watershed Council and resides with her family in Melrose.

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