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News & Events

News & Event

Gathering Steam

When Jim Landers ventured into the boiler room of his parish, St. Antoninus Church, he was taken aback.

Andy Holzhauser and Steffany ReidWhen Jim Landers ventured into the boiler room of his parish, St. Antoninus Church, he was taken aback.

“I thought, ‘Holy smoly!’” Jim said. “It’s ancient. It’s 1957 equipment looking at you. It looked like one of those big iron stoves times ten.”

Jim’s original visit to the boiler room was due to concern by Rev. Christopher Armstrong about energy bills from the parish school. Jim, a retired civil engineer, joined forces with volunteers on the building and grounds committee and St. Antoninus Business Manager Steffany Reid.

Steffany was well versed in the problems lurking in the boiler room. She often crossed her fingers that the maintenance person could “bandage” frequent setbacks or that calling a repair company would not be costly.

St. Antoninus Church and Parish School, nestled on Cincinnati’s West Side, includes a school, daycare, rectory and chapel. It’s the church home to 1,400 families; the school has 470 students, kindergarten through eight. Its families and the church itself have been stung by the recession.

“We’ve always supplemented tuition,” Steffany said. “And we try to keep tuition low. But because of the economy, we’re struggling too. Donations are down. We need to save any way we can. This year an additional 25 families needed help.”

Keeping this in mind, a new boiler seemed out of the question. But Steffany had done her homework. She had read about the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA), a nonprofit that helps owners of homes and buildings invest in energy efficiency. GCEA also has a program for nonprofits (this includes houses of worship) that frees financial resources for organizational missions by reducing energy costs. Once a nonprofit completes an energy assessment, GCEA will pay 35 percent of the work that needs to be done if a selected contractor is used.

“I think it’s great what GCEA is doing,” said Ez Housh of Monroe Mechanical, who installed St. Antoninus’ boiler. “Especially in this economic time, it’s hard for people to do things even if it saves them money. Even if it makes economic sense, you have to spend money to get started. The GCEA grant gives you a boost and gets you started.”

Not only does GCEA help nonprofits put money back into programming, it’s reducing the carbon footprint and creating jobs in the contracting industry.

“The fact that you can create jobs is important,” said Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director and GCEA founder. “We also work with businesses on their needs.

For example, we created an equipment-leasing program (for contractors doing energy audits). Energy audit equipment is expensive and many can’t afford it. This allows the businesses to lease to own.”

Between December 2010 and March 2011, St. Antoninus’ savings for natural gas use were more than $8,000 compared to the same period the previous year.

Estimated payback for the project, with the GCEA incentive factored in, is 9.5 years. The church plans to continue to make energy-saving changes with the help of GCEA.

In other words, without crippling heating bills, more money can go back to educating students. And that makes a positive impact on our environment.

About the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance
GCF is one of two initial funders of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. Since its inception, GCEA has received more than $425,000 in grants from GCF. GCEA’s offices are located in the Foundation’s office building, The Robert & Ruth Westheimer Center for Philanthropy. Learn more online at greatercea.org.

Printed in the 2010 Annual Report