Euclid Ave UMC Digs Deep to Install Geothermal

by Frank Fletcher

Sunday, November 13, Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church dedicated its newly installed geothermal heating and air conditioning system. Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church is the first United Methodist church in northern Illinois and the first congregation in Oak Park to fully heat and air-condition with a geothermal system. (In addition, several houses in the area, and the new Madison Street Walgreen's, have gone geothermal.) The church’s parking lot (414 S. Euclid Ave.) is where the well field for this geothermal heat pump heating and air conditioning system is located.

According to Euclid’s Pastor Marti Scott, “What better gift can we give our children than to protect Planet Earth for the children of the next generation. We must become fossil fuel free and significantly reduce our carbon footprint.”

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tell us that a geothermal heat pump is the most energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly way to heat and cool a building. The ground and ground water over 100 feet down maintain a relatively constant temperature close to the overall long-term average air temperature above ground (between 50 and 60 degrees F), much as an underground cave or an unheated basement remain a fairly constant temperature. The ground and ground water thus offer a free source of heat in the winter and a free heat depository or “heat sink” in the summer using the same technology as an air conditioner or refrigerator use to move heat from inside to outside. This should slash CO2 emissions from the church by much more than half. While the church has many green programs and initiatives, this one will unquestionably make the biggest contribution to combating global warming.

The church finished its parking lot with permeable pavers to allow storm water to go into the ground instead of the combined storm and sanitary sewers to again help the environment.

The whole project has been a community effort, with contributions and pledges from church members and friends and a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. There has also been support from the Village of Oak Park, Board of Trustees, Director of Building and Property Standards, the Sustainability Manager, the Energy Committee, the Environmental and Energy Commission, the Oak Park River Forest sustainability plan, PlanItGreen, and the Oak Park River Forest Interfaith Green Summit Network.

Research and planning for this project proceeded with the help and support of Faith in Place, Interfaith Power and Light’s Cool Calculator Program, the congregation’s Green Action Task Force and the unfailing support of Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Marti Scott, church staff and the congregation. 

As Bob Romo, Senior Vice President of Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation said, “The faith community is where people are walking their green talk.”