Sunday, February 3, 2008

Holy light: Wyandotte priest preaches, practices energy efficiency

When the Rev. Charles Morris thought about illuminating his congregation at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, he decided to do it with solar panels, a wind turbine, compact fluorescent light bulbs and a solar net.

Morris, the priest at the Wyandotte church since 1993, believes the faith community has the responsibility to lead the way to salvation from fossil fuel dependence and pollution while embracing renewable energy sources.

And he's practicing what he preaches.

St. Elizabeth was one of the stops on last weekend's Michigan Sustainable Homes and Businesses Tour — also known as the National Solar Tour — with sites from Monroe to Clarkston and Detroit to Canton. Businesses, schools and other organizations showed off their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints by using renewable energy to heat, cooling and light.

A "solar net" covers the church's 1,400 square feet of stained-glass windows. The shroud reduces glare by 93 percent and helps regulate the inside temperature. That translates to heat savings in the winter and lower cooling costs in the summer.

Throughout the school, rectory and church, an overhauled lighting system uses compact fluorescent bulbs and other high-efficiency lights. Exit signs are LED technology.

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