Hillside Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, NC went solar. In 2020, Hillside Church had an Energy Savings Analysis done by North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light. The main purpose of NCIPL is to advocate for creation care and to assist houses of worship to become more sustainable. NCIPL also strives to recommend improvements that will save houses of worship money on their energy bills.
The energy audit was performed by a Hillside Church member, John Roberts. Mr. Roberts is willing to do this for other churches within a certain distance from Chapel Hill. The audit report identified several areas where energy use could be reduced including areas of inadequate insulation and changing both indoor and outdoor lighting to LED lamps.
At this time, Hillside Church also received a proposal from Eagle Solar and Light for installing a solar PV (Photoelectric) array on the church. The church has a large southeast facing roof on the worship center that was available to install the system. These reports were presented to the pastor and Deacons. The pastor and Deacons supported the proposed changes based on a desire to demonstrate their stewardship of God’s creation.
Lowering energy consumption and using solar energy has reduced the church’s carbon footprint and reduced pollution of the environment. The roof was 20 years old at that point and the church was in process of considering roof shingle replacement.
Hillside Church was contacted by Lime Energy, a Duke Energy contractor, about replacing fluorescent tubes with LED tubes. Lime Energy offered a subsidized cost to replace the tubes. Lime Energy replaced all the fluorescent tubes in the church at a 70% subsidy. Lime Energy also replaced two exterior lights and two church sign lights with LED lamps.
The church reinstalled ceiling insulation that was improperly installed in the restrooms in the center of the building as a new day care center began using the classroom wing.
The next step was to replace the parking lot lights with LED lamps. Duke Energy was contacted and they replaced all the lamps for a nominal fee.
In 2022 the church went ahead with replacing the shingles on the worship center roof and received a new proposal from Eagle Solar and Light to install a solar array on the roof. Duke Energy offered a substantial rebate on the cost of the array. Eagle Solar and Light offered a 25-year lease. With the lease, Eagle Solar and Light will maintain the system for 25 years and replace any components that fail. The lease also makes the annual payments less than the electrical bill savings. The pastor and Deacons fully supported the installation of the system and church members voted unanimously to approve the lease.
Hillside Church plans to continue to find ways to reduce fossil fuel-based energy use and the attending harm to the environment.