Volunteers help produce Jefferson County's first 'built green' church
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Jefferson County's first "built green" church, Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, is on San Juan Avenue in Port Townsend. More than 190 church volunteers contributed about 9,000 hours to the effort. -- Photo by Jeff Chew/Peninsula Daily News

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND -- For those at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Church, living an environmentally conscious lifestyle means being closer to God.

That belief led to a grand-scale volunteer effort to construct Jefferson County's first "built green" church.

The spacious, acoustically enhanced sanctuary was recently dedicated by the congregation of more than 300 on San Juan Avenue.

"One of our seven principles is honoring the interdependent web of all existence,' said Kathy Stevenson, director of religious education. "And so everything we do, we think of how we can live lightly on the Earth."

Adds the church minister, the Rev. Bruce Bode: "We'd like to see the Earth go on."

After a four-year process that involved 13 months of construction and 197 volunteers who contributed about 9,000 volunteer hours, the city of Port Townsend granted the church its certificate of occupancy.

Wallyworks Construction was the project contractor and architect Richard Berg designed it. Children as young as 4 and adults as old as 81 volunteered for the project.

The project was built with the assistance of the Jefferson County Homebuilders Association's Built Green program and its committee chairman, Kevin Coker.

Coker said he is now performing the checklist of items to determine what level of LEED certification the church building meets.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a national green building rating system.

Only two other buildings in Jefferson County have met LEED standards -- Port Townsend City Hall and the Northwest Maritime Center.

"They worked with us to make it a pilot project," architect Berg said of the Built Green program that normally applies to homes, but which was upgraded to apply to a commercial structure, in this case the church and its connected facilities.

Under the LEED scorecard for a rating of 1 to 5, the building received points for being built in an urban area that would reduce vehicle trips.

Other points were earned for landscaping with rain gardens to absorb storm water runoff and provide natural water filtration, and landscaping using native and drought-tolerant plants that use less water.

The church was also insulated beyond the building code to reduce energy consumption, used day lighting with more windows, bought an energy-efficient heat pump for better circulation and increased natural ventilation with windows that open on both side of the sanctuary.

Energy-efficient kitchen appliances and compact fluorescent lights will also be used.

Nontoxic and recycled materials were used, concrete removed was recycled, Douglas fir wood posts and beams were sustainably harvested, and bamboo and cork were used in flooring.

Natural linoleum was used in bathrooms and recycled newspaper material was used in the foyer ceiling.

Highly energy-efficient insulated panels were used in the sanctuary ceiling to avoid the use of drywall.

The church also plans to provide bicycle parking.

Berg said walls were designed to be tilted in slightly to optimize sound quality.

Church children helped stucco the church's exterior during six Saturday "stucco parties," saving the church about $140,000 in construction costs.

New sanctuary doors were being carved by David Gurnee.

Gary Nelson, the church's sound man, showed off the church's new audio system to demonstrate its power and clarity.

"I've been bragging that it is the best acoustics on the Peninsula," an enthusiastic Nelson said.


Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 15. 2010 11:27PM
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