St. Matthew’s receives $7K for eco-friendly lighting

Scott Brown, Reporter

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church is seeing things in a new light.

The church announced Wednesday it had received a grant worth almost $7,000 from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to update lighting fixtures for greater energy efficiency. Upgrades to the light fixtures began Tuesday.

The grant is the product of more than a year of work by the St. Matthew’s Green Team, said Rev. Charles de Kay. The Green Team, which has existed for about a year and a half, is a group of congregation members committed to environmental sustainability in the church, 2120 Lincoln St.

“To actually receive the grant is a wonderful recognition of the hard work they did,” de Kay said. “It’s a tremendous shot in the arm on a number of different levels.”

Plans for the project began when parishioners approached Derek Handley, operations assistant at St. Matthew’s, about a program through the church’s energy provider, Commonwealth Edison Company. After registering the church for the Small Business Energy Savings Program, which provides incentives to improve energy efficiency, Handley said representatives came from ComEd to assess the cost of upgrading the building.

“At first it seemed to be pretty high, and we weren’t quite sure,” Handley said.

But soon, help came along. In addition to the grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, St. Matthew’s is receiving funding from ComEd and Project Green, a Chicago-based consulting and installation firm focused on renewable energy technologies.

“They’re paying the balance of our project,” said Toni Carrigan, facilities coordinator at St. Matthew’s. “We have 100 percent grant, and we’re so ecstatic and so grateful for that.”

ComEd delivers energy to about 70 percent of Illinois and has a “commitment to improving the environment,” according to the website. Among other efforts, ComEd is a trade partner with Project Green and provides the endowment for the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

De Kay said the project aligns well with the resolution released three years ago by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, which asked every church to consider energy consumption. Other efforts at St. Matthew’s include composting, recycling and environmental education.

“I believe there’s a moral imperative to be intentional, to be thoughtful and to learn about how we live and what impact we have,” de Kay said. “I don’t know that there are too many more important issues that we can think about.”

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