Nov 30 2007

Holiday Lights

We’re mere moments away from December, and as the fall leaves turn brown and become mulch under our feet and the turkey and pumpkin decorations are put away, the Advent and Christmas season is immediately ushered in. It’s that time of year when we get new candles for the Advent wreathe, compose Christmas cards, and hear Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree everywhere we turn. One of the harder tasks in decorating for the Christmas season has got to be untangling strands of lights and then successfully winding them around the Christmas tree in such a way that no cord is visible to the naked eye and there is an even distribution of lights at all angles of view, from the crawling baby to the towering uncle.

Lights have been a recent topic of discussion on both the campus level for Emory University, through the Office of Sustainability Initiatives, as well as on the seminary level here at Candler School of Theology. In fact, light bulbs, water conservation, electricity use, and sustainable food sources are all lively discussions and movements around campus. Last spring, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives invited the Emory University community to submit grants for sustainability projects. Brad Schweers 05T, admissions advisor in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at Candler, wrote a grant to switch all of the standard incandescent light bulbs in Bishops Hall and Cannon Chapel, Candler’s academic, administrative, and chapel buildings, with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) in order to reduce Candler’s electricity usage. The second, and more far-reaching, purpose of the project proposed by Brad was to educate students, staff, and faculty about compact fluorescent lighting and larger environmental issues, from a Christian and religious stewardship viewpoint and empower them to switch their personal and congregational lighting from incandescent to compact fluorescent lighting.

Brad was awarded the grant, and began switching incandescent bulbs in Cannon Chapel and Bishops Hall with CFLs in late August, as classes resumed. Brad switched just under a hundred bulbs. Over the expected ten thousand hour life of the bulbs, each CFL will save approximately four hundred seventy kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity as compared to their incandescent counterparts. To measure results, Brad compared energy consumption from September and October 2007 with the consumption from those same months in 2005 and 2006.

Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL), a local non-profit working with religious congregations on environmental justice issues, whose Executive Director, Katy Hinman graduated from Candler with her Master of Divinity (MDiv) in 2006 and is a candidate for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church, teaches that a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) is fluorescent lighting designed to be used in a standard (incandescent) light bulb socket. Because incandescent bulbs work by heating up a metal filament until it is white-hot, they produce mostly heat, which is why a fluorescent bulb using only thirteen watts of electricity can produce light comparable to an incandescent hogging sixty watts.

Since switching our bulbs to CFLs two months ago, Candler has reduced energy consumption by twelve percent. We have saved almost eight thousand Kilowatt hours of electricity, which is more than an average household uses in a year. In addition, Candler has put 6,800 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide into the environment. That is four Honda Civics worth, by the way. We have saved $490 on our energy bills in September and October of this year. If you are thinking like a Candler student, that’s a lot of meals at Cox Hall, Dooley’s Den, and Emory Village, which are eateries in and around Emory that are frequented by seminarians.

Brad Schweers’ passion for energy reduction and environmental concerns continues. He says, “For me, energy conservation is more than just commonsensical, though it is that, of course. As a Christian, energy conservation is a matter of stewardship, a matter of caring for the Creation over which God has given us responsibility. Jesus said that the essence of life is to love God, love neighbor, and love your self. I think today he would add love Creation. Switching out a hundred light bulbs at Candler is, for me, a part of that Christian love.”

Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, along with their partners, are encouraging people to give Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs as Advent, Hanukkah, and Christmas presents this year. By switching one incandescent light bulb to a CFL, can save seventy percent of the energy used by an incandescent bulb; four hundred seventy kilowatt-hours of electricity (that’s like running a hair dryer non-stop for sixteen days); seven hundred thirty pounds (pounds!) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere; $36 over the life of the CFL bulb, which can be up to ten years. Katy Hinman 06T, at GIPL reminds us, “It is important that we not only make the theological connection between our faith and the need to be good stewards of our environmental resources, but also that we empower ourselves and our congregations to take positive action toward ensuring a thriving planet for generations to come.” Honor one of the colors of the holiday season, and be Green-friendly and give Green gifts that will honor God’s great creation.

Candler is a great place to explore pressing cultural and theological issues, such as the environment, as well as be in dialogue with timeless theologians and biblical texts. For more information about Candler School of Theology, visit our website at www.can
dler.emory.edu
, or email the
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at candleradmissions@emory.edu. In addition, you can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about the admissions process at Candler by clicking here. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com.

Lane Cotton Winn 07T

Candler School of Theology

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern