The Third Century Challenge building renovation project reflects several core values of All Souls Church. Planning for the project, the construction process, and the end result will each be in keeping with our commitment to (1) being guided by our Covenant of Right Relations; (2) being a welcoming congregation; (3) valuing our environment and sustainability; (4) social justice; and (5) nurturing and educating our children.
Commitment to being guided by our Covenant of Right Relations
The All Souls Covenant of Right Relations calls us to “to listen with respect and attention” and to “assume that people have good intentions; listen intentionally and compassionately; encourage people to speak without blaming or judging them when they do.”
The Covenant further calls us to “make every effort to settle differences directly and openly; stay engaged with each other through difficult conversations; hold ourselves responsible for hearing all sides.”
Throughout the planning process, the Comprehensive Assets Planning Team (CAPT) has embodied these precepts by consistently seeking, listening to, and carefully weighing the voices of the congregation about the priorities for the renovation project.
To capture the congregation’s thoughts and feelings regarding the building and what changes and improvements were desired, CAPT interviewed staff and key groups within the church, invited comments via the church newsletter, hosted town hall and congregational meetings, conducted focus group sessions, held design feedback sessions,and tallied surveys distributed to the entire congregation.
In ordering the priorities and making decisions for the project, every effort has been made to “listen with respect and attention” and to “hearing all sides.” Many of these decisions have been difficult, involving balancing the desires of the congregation, the budget available, and the constraints imposed by historic preservation, building permit regulations, and current technology.
Commitment to being a welcoming congregation
The building renovation project has as a goal to make All Souls a more welcoming place for all congregants, including the elderly, the disabled, and parents with young children in strollers. To achieve this goal, the project will include the following enhancements:
- Installing easily accessible ramps into the church from the corner of 16th and Harvard
- Installing an elevator along the 15th street corridor
- Addition of a ramp from the lower-level to the Archives
- Additional accessible restrooms
- Creating an attractive gathering place at the Harvard Street entrance
- Improving the outdoor terrace to make it a more inviting gathering place
- Making Pierce Hall a more comfortable place to gather in hot summer months by restoring the existing natural ventilation system
Commitment to valuing our environment and sustainability
Early on in planning the project, there was a commitment made to sustainability principles and to making the project as “green” as possible within the constraint of the budget. The following seven principles were approved as a guide for the projects planning, design, and construction:
- The design will incorporate “whole building” design, favor vertical over horizontal expansion, maximize materials and system durability, and minimize operations and maintenance costs.
- All design choices (and education content) should consider life cycle and full-cost impacts, and take account of sources (where things come from) and sinks (where waste and emissions go) including city, region, country, and planet.
- The design will enhance and enlarge green space and gardens on property with emphasis on native and drought-resistance varieties.
- Renovations will remove or mitigate all hazardous materials. This includes interior spaces, and all surfaces related to windows and doors. Any exterior hazardous materials should be mitigated so as not to cause harm or risk to occupants or passersby, including containment practices during removal.
- Designs for energy use will have the goal of at least net-zero energy use for the building. Any use of skylights will incorporate features for minimal energy loss and/or automated features to further reduce energy loss during periods of non-use for lighting. Lighting fixtures should be state-of-art, smart devices to reduce energy needs throughout all renovated areas. Installation of high energy use spotlights should be minimized. Bicycle use and public transportation should be prioritized over parking.
- New construction shall incorporate the maximum use of recovered and local building materials; new building materials should be non-toxic — (low or no volatile organic compounds) and locally sourced whenever possible (versus imported or from the west coast, for example).
- Water that falls on the building and grounds should be captured and
(re-)used on the property, significantly reducing run-off to the surrounding streets and sewer system. Cisterns, green roofing, pervious surfaces, enhanced tree care/use and bayscaping will be incorporated to the greatest degree possible. Low-flow fixtures should be retro-fitted wherever feasible.
Guided by these “Sustainability Principles,” the project design and construction drawings incorporate the following “green” features”:
- Ensuring that the overall envelope is tight with virtually no intrusion of water or air
- Repairing windows where needed to make them more airtight
- Upgraded and more energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
- High-efficiency lighting fixtures for more efficient energy use, increased life, and greater light output
- New plumbing and bathroom fixtures to reduce water use
- Insulation of all ceilings, including the non-renovated areas
- Reclaiming the natural ventilation system originally installed in Pierce Hall, but currently inactive
- Preparing the roof and installing the wiring for possible future solar energy panels
- “Greening” of the Harvard St./16th St. terrace with landscaping and permeable surfaces to facilitate drainage
- Installation of a rainwater storage system to capture rainfall and reuse it for irrigation
- Replacing or repairing the gutters to ensure long-term sustainability of our building
- Incorporating sustainability principles throughout construction, including demolition, waste control, monitoring, reporting, and commissioning
Commitment to social justice
All Souls Church has a long-standing and well-documented commitment to social justice. From advocating for the abolition of slavery, to supporting the goals of the civil rights movement, to hosting the first racially integrated boys club in the city, to serving as a staging ground for the historic 1963 March on Washington, to being a strong voice for peace during the Vietnam War, to working for marriage equality, to fighting against voter suppression, All Souls Church has stood as a beacon for social justice. All Souls congregants help repair homes in the 9th ward of New Orleans; help create and sustain affordable housing in our neighborhood; provide ESL instruction to neighborhood residents; and participate in the social justice work of the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN). It is therefore fitting that social justice goals have been interwoven into this building renovation project.
At its September 2012 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the following Policy Statement regarding contracting for the Third Century Challenge building renovation project.
In its assessment of the strengths of competing contractors for the Third Century Challenge, All Souls Church will give special consideration to contractors that:
- Pay fair wages, and at a minimum a living wage, to all workers;
- Employ significant numbers of D.C. residents, women, minorities, people with disabilities, and union workers;
- Are owned or managed by women or minorities; and
- Utilize environmentally sustainable contracting practices.
Selection of the numerous subcontractors for this complex project will be guided in part by how well they measure up to this Policy Statement.
Commitment to nurturing and educating our children
In our congregational child dedication ceremonies during Sunday services, we commit to the nurturing of the children of the church. Our Religious Education program is central to this nurturing process. However, our RE space is dark, difficult to navigate, and has inadequate bathrooms. As was said during the design feedback sessions, it would be truly wonderful if each Sunday we could send our children downstairs into a beautiful, light-filled modern facility.
The project will add more classrooms, bring in natural light, and provide better bathroom facilities. All in all, the renovation project will help us live up to our commitment to nurture our children by making the lower level a more welcoming, pleasant, functional and attractive space.