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Church Congregation Leads the Way in Climate Protection

Climate protection in church congregations – this presents very specific challenges as well as great opportunities. EnergieAgentur.NRW estimates potential annual savings in the state municipalities at 150,000 tonnes of CO2. The Evangelical Church congregation of Geilenkirchen in the Aachen region is working on steadily increasing its own contribution.

Church congregations or 'Gemeinden' are institutions that have developed over many years and often have long histories. Accordingly, the building and heating infrastructures have aged and are rarely from a single source. With approximately 4,200 members, Gelsenkirchen Gemeinde belongs to the Church District of Jülich, which is also engaging at district level with environmental considerations.

Climate protection objective:

  • reducing energy consumption by 10% through improved organisation and changes in behaviour
  • progressive conversion to LED

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Kirchengemeinde Geilenkirchen


The two listed Evangelical church buildings in Geilenkirchen and Teveren, the latter being well over 300 years old, belong to the congregation. Apart from that, there are numerous buildings of different ages with various technological facilities. Within the context of a larger energy-efficiency upgrade in 2007, a 12.5-kW CHP unit that is supported by efficient condensing boilers as required, as well as highly-efficient circulating pumps were installed. In the meantime, the church congregation has become very experienced in operating the system and has almost halved CO2 emissions (46 per cent or 44 tonnes of CO2 per year). Incidentally, the burden on the congregation's budget has also been lessened by approximately EUR 14,000 per year.

The First "Green Rooster" in the Rhineland

In order to establish climate protection more firmly as a topic within the congregation, in recent years a team has been working intensively to set up an environmental management system according to the standard of the "Green Rooster" – "Der grüne Hahn". The corresponding certificate was presented in June 2015 – to the first Protestant Church congregation in the Rhineland to receive it. In addition to the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, the Evangelical Church of Westphalia has also been supporting the process with valuable tips.

And so the Geilenkirchen congregation has now compiled comprehensive information on all environmental aspects of its activities and formulated clear environmental guidelines and objectives. The first targets have already been achieved as a result of the environmental management process: A return or refill process has been established for toner containers, ink cartridges and pens.

Potential in Organisation and Behaviour

In order to achieve the next goal, the environmental team wants to get the members of the congregation actively involved. They are now addressing consumption that can be reduced through better organisation and personal behaviour – from better coordination regarding room and group sizes up to discussing heat requirements in the churches.

But the catalogue of goals also includes technical measures. Step by step, the lighting is being switched over to LED. In the coming years, further efficiency measures will also be addressed in the buildings.