Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church was Awarded for the 2021 Battle of the Buildings Competition in the House of Worship Category

The Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church (Eastern Avenue CRC) was formed in 1877 by members of the First CRC. It was originally built as a small chapel that served 86 members and 72 families. In 1887, due to the fast growing population in surrounding Grand Rapids, the church was reconstructed to hold a capacity of 1,200. By 1910 the number of members had grown significantly- 1,600 professing members and 2,400 total members. In 1916 the church was bricked over and the single stairway and tower were replaced with two shorter towers, a double entryway, and the rose window. The church has existed as an entity of the community since its inception, and in 1962 they solidified that. At this time the congregation adjusted its focus to work more closely with the people who lived around Eastern Avenue CRC and support their community members through programs, committees, and different services offered to their community members. This is the foundation on which Eastern Avenue CRC’s energy efficiency and sustainability is built. 

Eastern Avenue CRC began their energy efficiency journey around 2015 when they upgraded all 24/7 lights and all outdoor lights to LEDs (except for 4 very high-up fixtures in the building). Through our very own U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan Energy Assistance Program, Eastern Avenue CRC was able to receive grant funding, and as a result an energy audit for their entire building from locally established organization Catalyst Partners, where they received recommendations for energy efficiency and improvements. Findings included issues with door sealings and leaking pipe and other issues. Catalyst Partners then developed the Energy Conservation Measures (ECM’s) and met with Eastern Ave CRC after the report was completed to help clarify next steps. From that point Eastern Ave CRC pursued opportunities to implement ECM's based on their priorities. The report done by Catalyst Partners provided ECM's that would achieve a total energy reduction of 21.7% when not including solar. Based on the ECM's that were implemented the following savings were calculated:

  • Lighting 2.6%
  • Walk in Cooler 0.2%
  • Boiler O&M 16.6%
  • Door Seals 0%
  • Zoning and controls 3%



The audit was performed during the COVID-19 Pandemic, which typically put a hold on most projects throughout the nation and world. During this time though we saw the extent to Eastern Avenue CRC’s community support, when seven volunteers came in Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9am to 12pm to change each and every lightbulb throughout the church. The total cost of the project was $1,000 for an electrician to change some electrical wiring, $4,000 on materials, “and the cost of the doughnut I brought in weekly,” said Energy Manager Randy Commeret, “that’s what they were paid in.” In total for the project they replaced 490 4’ fluorescent tubes with 4’ LED tubes and 28 (2x2) 64W fixtures with 2x2 29W led panels for a total annual savings of $1,590 and a total of 14,289 Kwh saved. This is equivalent to CO2 emissions from 1,139 gallons of gasoline consumed, 11,204 pounds of coal burned or 2.3 homes’ electricity use for one year. Randy also talked with us about the precedent this project set and how it would be used as a template for future projects in the church. In the future they hope to install solar panels and work with local organizations such as Calvin College and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

With the church’s mission of “taking care of creation” in mind Randy describes how they are constantly trying to lower their organization’s carbon footprint, and have “substantially done that and continue to work on that as part of our mission.” With that mission in mind, the church considers everything related to the earth as creation and they participate in many corresponding programs. They compost through Organicycle, all of their boxes, cardboard, food waste, and anything that they will take. The church holds a Saturday food program where they give out a lot of food. Randy notes that while this is a great program, it’s also a spot of inefficiency where they hope to improve. The building currently keeps the food for that program in donated freezers that are very inefficient and are looking to update them in the future through funding opportunities. They also have native plant gardens throughout the property. Eastern Avenue CRC continues to work with their creation care mission in mind at all times.

We were thrilled to celebrate the achievements of and programs at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church at our annual Michigan Energy Summit on June 15, 2022 where they were awarded in the House of Worship Category!