For the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Mich., environmental stewardship is certainly paying off.
Nicknamed the "blue nuns" for their royal blue habits of yesteryear, the IHM Sisters have meticulously monitored the performance of their 376,000-sf Motherhouse, which underwent a $56 million sustainable renovation in 2003.
After adding up a year's worth of utility bills, the payback was significant: $187,000 in savings, according to IHM campus administrator Martha Weise.
The building's geothermal heating and cooling system, comprised of more than 47 miles of underground pipe, helped cut gas consumption by 58%. Grey water recycling and low-flow fixtures slashed water use by 50%. And an energy management system and energy-efficient lighting reduced power consumption significantly.
The 240 sisters have discovered additional ways to cut costs while helping reduce environmental impact. For instance, recycling programs for paper, inkjet printer cartridges, and cell phones saved more than $6,000 last year.