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Oak Grove Presbyterian volunteer John Crampton

Earth Action Heroes: The energy savers

The story of creation is commonly told in churches. At Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, that story is followed by a question: How can we care for and preserve the environment?  

“I don’t think as a religious organization we could be sitting here burning coal-fired electricity and say that we’re taking care of God’s creation,” said Oak Grove Presbyterian volunteer John Crampton, above right with volunteer Pdon Pinkham.  

That’s why the church is committed to going green. This year, Oak Grove Presbyterian installed new solar panels. This cut its carbon emissions by about 25 percent—the equivalent of taking 144 cars off the road for a year. Oak Grove gets the rest of its energy from WindSource through Xcel Energy wind farms and a community solar garden. 

“We’re going to cut our emissions by 220 percent. We’re actually going to produce more clean energy than we consume,” Crampton said. 

Solar panels aren’t the only way Oak Grove is partaking in smart energy practices. They have two electric vehicle chargers in the parking lot available for anyone to use, new high-efficiency HVAC units and LED lights throughout the building and the parking lot. The church also planted a rain garden in their parking lot area to minimize runoff to the local watershed. 

These changes are exactly what the City’s Sustainability Commission is encouraging. A recent series of energy tours aim to give local businesses and organizations ideas to save money while saving the environment. 

“Businesses consume about 79 percent of the energy in Bloomington,” Sustainability Commissioner Steve Flagg said. “These tours are a total win-win. Finding new efficient practices is good for the environment, good for resources and good for the pocketbook.”

Oak Grove Presbyterian volunteers attended an energy tour and identified with the message.

“It’s about keeping as many resources available in the earth as possible,” said church volunteer Bob Gerdes. “It’s about doing things that are very efficient and protecting the environment for future generations so they can enjoy Bloomington as we have.”