Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.23.34 AMRichard Zellers is looking forward to more energy efficiency!

Richard Zellers – retired electrical engineer, philosopher-farmer, and passionate environmentalist – is often encountered at St. Thomas up on a ladder, switching out light bulbs. The Capital Campaign communications committee asked him, “What would more energy efficiency mean to St. Thomas?” Here’s what he had to say.

The insulation, lighting, and heating of the west wing and Heritage Hall were adequate for the 60’s and 70’s, but are not adequate for the present or the future. When St. Thomas was first built, and into the period when the first rebuilding was undertaken, energy efficiency was not a major consideration – but it certainly is now. The costs of both electricity and natural gas are rising, and we use both in quantity here at St. Thomas.

We’ve made good progress on lighting upgrades in the sanctuary and the east wing. Recall the conversion of the sanctuary lighting to the new LED fixtures? This carved a large bit off our electric usage right there and improved the lighting at the same time. I’ve been converting the ceiling fixtures in the east wing to more energy-efficient T-8 tubes and ballasts for the last two years as older units failed. The annoying hum of the older T-12 ballasts in the conference room disappeared as a side benefit when the fixtures were refitted with newer, more energy-efficient T-8 tubes and ballasts. We even needed to disconnect a couple of fixtures due to the room becoming too bright.

We can make those same improvements in energy efficiency in the west wing and in Heritage Hall. Ask anyone who has attempted to teach in Heritage Hall – the room needs brighter, more energy-efficient lighting. A new gas furnace and better insulation will also make a big difference in energy usage in the west wing and Heritage Hall. You don’t seen them, but tucked away out of sight this building has eight gas-burning furnaces; collectively, they burn a lot of gas. The existing units in the east wing and sacristy mechanical room are reasonably energy-efficient, but the one in the west mechanical room is in need of replacement. While the roof is off on the west wing, we can also rework the ceiling insulation to a higher standard.


Richard Zellers