Planning to build

Planning to build (or not to)?

The Interfaith Coalition on Energy has produced a few publications advising congregations about energy options in planning to renovate or ad to existing buildings or build new ones.  In addition, the following is a review of five books from other sources, listed in our opinion of most important listed first:

1. Before building, do you know how the congregation feels about its future? The Church Planning Inventory from Hartford Seminary solicits 180 multiple-choice responses to either questions or statements.  By analyzing the results, a congregation can see the demographics of its memberships, its intent to stay or move on, satisfaction with programs, facilities and ministry – plus a lot more.  The Hartford Seminary will sell copies of the inventory at 40 cents each and analyze a returned set for $2.50 per tabulated questionnaire.  They also charge a one time administrative fee of $75.  To obtain a free copy of their inventory, you can write the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT  06105.  Their phone is (860) 509-9543 and their email is mross@HARTSEM.EDU.  The Hartford Seminary also has inventories for pastoral search and parish profiles.

2. When Not to Build is written by Eddy Hall and church architect turned consultant Ray Bowman, who estimates that “nine out of ten churches that have called me thinking they needed to build have a better, less costly alternative.”  The main purpose of their book When Not to Build is to encourage congregations to think, prioritize and pray before they start planning to build.  (Baker Book House, 2000, ISBN 0801091063) .

3. Kennon Callahan is famous for helping congregations plan to grow.  He also has a book about “bricks and mortar issues” called Building for Effective Mission.  Following his logic, congregations view their facilities only as an outcome of their mission.  Callahan starts by helping congregations to consider why they exist in the first place.  Then, he describes choosing sites, teams to plan construction, and architects, and also how to raise money for construction.  Very clear writing.  (Jossey-Bass, 1995, ISBN 0787938726).

4. Gwenn McCormick wrote Planning and Building Church Facilities in 1992 (Boardman Press, ISBN 0805430113).  With two chapters written by architect Steven Newton, this book includes discussion on space utilization, accessibility, system approaches to construction (design-build, construction management, spec and bid and package builders),  rules of thumb and interview questions for architects.

5. Firm Foundations is written by a minister (Lance Moore) and an architect (Daniel Michal) and approaches construction more by systems – site, materials, mechanicals, worship center, sound systems, fellowship hall, nursery, offices and kitchen.  They also have chapters on the overall process and finishes and furnishings.  (CSS Publishing, ISBN 0788013459)

Our point in publishing this list is that for less than $100, these five books provide a congregation with advice that could save thousands of dollars of construction or renovation costs.  One additional observation – none of these books adequately covers controlling energy costs, which is why we exist – to fill in that gap.

Want to Build or Renovate in Sustainable Ways?

ICE has received several requests for guidance about environmentally gentle ways to renovate existing or construct new buildings.  We offer our $5 publication entitled “Questions for Design Professionals” that we developed in consensus with architects and engineers.  Another source is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  Various alternatives to every component and technique for building or renovating is listed on their website

Depending on the needs of a congregation, a construction project can be certified, or can select more stringent materials and techniques to qualify their buildings in silver, gold or platinum categories.  This site also has information about certification for architects.

Other websites on sustainable building design:

Environmental Building News           
Sourcebook and list of professionals
Current articles; product information 



Comments are closed.