Riverside Church has a storied past that includes appearances by Nelson Mandela, the Rev. Martin Luther King and former President Clinton.
Now, thanks to a modernization of its heating and cooling systems, the church has a more energy-efficient future.
The iconic church took advantage of Con Edison incentives to install new controls for the HVAC systems and insulation on boilers and pipes to cut energy costs, help its congregation worship in comfort and protect the environment.
“This technology will help us save energy and provide a more pleasant space for our worshippers and staff,” said the Rev. Michael Livingston, the executive minister at Riverside Church. “Caring for the planet’s resources and for everyone’s well-being is part of our stewardship of God’s creation.”
“By cutting its energy bills, Riverside Church will have more resources to put toward the important work of its ministry,” said Patrick McHugh, vice president, Engineering and Planning, for Con Edison.
“This energy efficiency project will help keep our city’s air clean, so it is a continuation of the church’s long tradition of good works to make people’s lives better.”
Con Edison’s Commercial and Industrial energy efficiency program provided $217,000 toward the $541,000 cost of the controls and $68,500 toward the $178,000 cost of the insulation.
The upgrades will save 131,000 therms and 204,000 kilowatt hours a year. Those savings will enable the church to get a payback in less than three years.
The energy savings will prevent 837 tons of carbon emissions a year. The greenhouse gas emissions avoided will be the same as removing 177 cars from the road or conserving 1,945 barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s calculator.
The new digital, automated controls are part of the new building management system. Those controls replace the original, manually operated controls in the church, which held its first service in 1930. The new controls allow a building manager to pre-set the temperature in various zones of the church. The building manager can operate the controls remotely.
The insulation keeps heat from escaping from piping, ducts, boilers, tanks and steam traps, meaning that the heat is available to travel through the pipes and warm the church. The custom-made insulation jackets on the boilers can be opened at the boiler door so that an inspector can look inside.
The inter-denominational Christian church in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood across from President Grant’s tomb is distinguishable by its Neo-Gothic architecture.
Mandela spoke there in 1990 after his release from prison and again in 2005. In 1972, the church hosted the funeral of baseball great and civil rights leader Jackie Robinson.
Con Edison’s C&I program provides large customers with up to 50 percent of the cost of a study to evaluate a building’s energy use and recommend efficiency measures. The program also offers incentives for equipment upgrades that save energy.