The Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Stewardship Collaborative
Who We Are
What We Do
Take Action
Cool Congregations
Resources and Links



Recognition for this program:

(Originally known as Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Stewardship Collaborative)

Warren Gaskill and Kevin Little, founders of Rapid Improvement Associates, met with our board of directors at one of our meetings in Sun Prairie in late 2002. Warren and Kevin had experience in working on developing an educational model built around "collaborative methods" and used it first to audit tree farms to save money and be sustainable. At the time, they had another program with Chicago schools.

Somehow Warren and Kevin heard of WICCC, and came to us and suggested that their method/program could be useful for us, and that some congregations might want to do what Madison Christian Community was already doing using Kevin's computer program tied into their electric meters. Ideas exchanged at that meeting developed into the Energy Stewardship programs that followed. Our name at the time was WICCC (Wisconsin Interfaith Climate Change Campaign).

A general meeting was held in Lake Mills at the United Methodist Church. We invited every congregation we could think of that might be interested in such a program. The plan got strong affirmative support at this meeting.

Instead of launching a big statewide program, without any real funds to back it (Focus on Energy stated they were unable to help us), we decided to do a pilot program of Rapid Improvement's model applied to some local congregations. We set up a fee program to try to make it self-funding, but Warren was largely doing it on a volunteer basis. Warren collected data from participating congregations.

The next year a second round with the congregations was carried out (see list below). We could not offer all the services and benefits that Franklin Energy/Focus on Energy offered in later programs.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our Beginnings - 2003 - 2004

A Wisconsin Energy Stewardship Pilot Collaborative began in 2003 from April to December. It was titled: Implementing Environmental Stewardship in Wisconsin Religious Congregations. The purpose was “To test use of a collaborative learning model with Wisconsin religious communities, April to December 2003. We will help your communities promote better use of energy as a first step to more sustainable building operations and design.” - (Rapid Improvement Associates, LLC)

Warren Gaskill was the overall supervisor who designed and ran the web
site, did ongoing contacts with the participants and a lot of followup tasks.

Dave Steffenson publicized the program mainly through writing cover letters to congregational judicatories and providing addresses of congregations under WICEC’s name. Warren led the educational workshops while Dave taught the religious basis and other information he knew, especially what might be done beyond congregations. Kevin Little did much of the writing for the program. WICEC provided its name and reputation.

March was used for “prework” to gather baseline data from participants. A full-day Joint Work Session I was held on April 5, 2003, from 9 to 4 PM. Joint Work Session II was held in December of 2003. Results were published in the spring of 2004.

Sponsor/Partners were:
Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign;
Wisconsin Green Building Alliance;
Rapid Improvement Associates;
Informing Ecological Design; and
Wisconsin Focus on Energy.

Janesville: Asbury United Methodist Church
Madison: Crossing Campus Ministry,
Madison: University Methodist Church/Wesley Foundation
Dousman: Emmanuel UCC - Dousman
Green Bay: GB Catholic Diocese
Stoughton: Stoughton United Methodist Church
Sinsinawa: Sinsinawa Dominians, Inc.
Appleton: St. Therese Catholic Church
Colgate: Zion United Methodist Church
Fitchburg: All Saints Lutheran Church
Stevens Point: Joe Miller

Strang, Inc.: (?) Paul Raisleger
Rapid Improvement: Kevin Little & Warren Gaskill
WICCC: Dave Steffenson
WI Focus on Energy: Rob Everhart
WI Green Bldg. Alliance: Connie Lindholm
KS Consulting: Marty Kleiber
Madison Christian Community: Jeff Wild & Tom Matthews

Tracking Measures:
• Energy use tracked over time;
• Energy costs ($ and carbon dioxide emissions) tracked over time;
• Member participation in related initiatives in their home and/or workplaces.

Warren Gaskill helped set up the web site for us and has been the lead teacher and operator of the web site and feedback program since then. Warren and Kevin Little basically invented the collaborative program.

During 2004, it appears that the program continued for the same congregations listed above.

Recognition for this program:

• U.S. EPA Energy Star Program, r2004 Congregation Award Winner St. Therese Catholic Church, Appleton (one of four recipients nationwide, along with Madison Christian Community)

• National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs “Success Stories” (one of five named)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

After our efforts to run a successful program for a couple of years, the program expanded when We Energies mostly took over the program after contacting WICCC to form a three-way partnership which was carefully organized through the efforts of board member, Rich Bogovich.

WICEC had a meeting with (Connie Lindholm?) a We Energies VP about our shared concerns for extending high efficiency measures to congregations. She came back with a proposal that stated that even though We Energies knew we actively and publicly opposed their Oak Creek coal plant, we both felt we could work together without co-opting each other. So we agreed to redesign and expand our piloted program to co-sponsor it with We Energies and offer it widely in their service area. We Energies got approval from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to do this joint program. They were able to used our joint effort to meet some of We Energies’ required efforts toward Green Energy. In return, from We Energies we got real money to develop the program. Focus on Energy had rejected us several times because we didn't fit into their bureaucratic model.

We Energies hired Franklin Energy to do all the leg work and provide the services and gadgets to local congregations, as well as connect local congregations to Focus on Energy funding where it applied. At that time Rich Bogovich began working part-time for Franklin Energy but not in relationship with WICEC. All of the meetings we had with Franklin Energy, Rich was in the middle, but he was wearing a WICEC hat.

We Energies provided the funding for Warren, while Kevin got to install his auditing devices at several congregations. We Energies paid WICEC for the services we provided which was our name and sponsorship as co-sponsors with We Energies, we also provided mailing lists and contacts, we wrote the cover letter, and we developed the brochure used with congregations. Dave Steffenson was a co-teacher in the initial seminars. We Energies provided the funds, overall sponsorship and their name, and they did the actual mailing to all the congregations in their service area under our cover letter. We Energies hired Franklin Energy, which already was linked to Focus on Energy, to carry out the program. Anthony Taylor was Franklin Energy’s main contact person along with another person. Franklin Energy’s role was major because they did the actual registration signups for the initial workshops, they provided gadgets and information from FOCUS, they went out to the participating congregations and did the energy studies and advised them, and basically operated the details. Warren Gaskill also designed the website and documents for continual ongoing monitoring of what local congregations were doing, and he kept the details and figures.

There were several workshops in Milwaukee, Racine, and perhaps one in Kenosha. There was some interest from non-profit organizations such as YMCAs. So we included them. Focus on Energy already had a Schools Program elsewhere. Warren continued doing followup through the web site and kept the statistics. A major focus was faith groups in the inner city with low income. We also had some more Mosques, though the Islamic Society of Milwaukee and Masjid Al-Qur’an were in the earlier pilot program.

Near the end of that period, with Rich Bogovich doing most of the contacting, we had individual meetings with MG&E and Alliant Energy, to see if they would duplicate what we did with We Energies in their respective service region. Both expressed interest and commended our program, but they decided they did not want to do that then. They evidently had other plans for meeting their state-mandated goals. So we put it on the shelf, while Warren continued working with the congregations signed into the website, and I (Dave Steffenson) think he did one more workshop on his own for congregations in the Fox Valley (which is not in the We Energies electric service area, but it is in their gas area).

2005 Energy Stewardship Collaborative

In a letter dated December 23, 2004, plans were made for an 8-month collaborative. Dave Steffenson was “coordinating the event for the WICEC.” The first joint meeting session was on January 16, 2005, in Madison - participants were asked to gather data on their buildings’ current condition and energy use, survey installed equipment and track their energy bills over the past year or two.

“In a pilot stewardship collaborative last year, one church and school in Appleton saved as much as 20% on their energy use by just paying attention to the basics,” noted Warren Gaskill, senior partner at Rapid Improvement Associates, a partner in the collaborative. “The success of this one church inspired the work of all the others. They learn a lot from each other.”

The collaborative participants signed up include:
McFarland, WI: McFarland Lutheran Church,
Madison, WI: First Unitarian Society,
Sinsinawa, WI: Sinsinawa Mound Dominican Center,
Brookfield, WI: Trinity-Pilgrim United Methodist Church,
Monona, WI: Lake Edge Lutheran Church,
Milwaukee: A-Qur'an Foundation,
Milwaukee: Islamic Society of Milwaukee,
Milwaukee: St. Sebastian Church,
Milwaukee: Congregation Anshai Sfard Kehillat Torah, and
Stevens Point: Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church.

“The program fee for the 8-month collaborative will be as follows: Up to 200 members - $200; 200 to 500 members - $300; over 500 members - $400. This includes all materials and support throughout.”

Sponsor/Partners were:
Islamic Society of Milwaukee,
McFarland Lutheran Church,
St. Sebastian Parish,
Lake Edge Lutheran Church,
First Unitarian Society,
Congregation Anshai Sfard Kehillat Torah,
Masjid Al-Qur’an,
Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church,
Wisconsin Interfaith Climate & Energy Campaign,
Rapid Improvement Associates

• An October 2005 update indicated that 62 items were listed on their Energy Stewardship 2005 Action Check List.
• There were 33 participants at the 2005 session.
• In the final update report titled - “Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Stewardship Collaborative 2005” - there was a questionnaire including:
1. Participant Progress Reports:
2. Discussion: Suggestions to Strengthen the Collaborative Intent & Increasing Odds for Greater Gains if Offered Again:
3. Collaborative 2005 Evaluation Comments Received
• What was the best part of this collaborative?
• What could be improved if it is offered again?
• What is your estimate for the amount of energy (electric or natural gas) consumption that you have reduced monthly energy bills during this collaborative?
• What was the effect of the collaborative framework on progress at your congregation?
• Any other comments?

* * * * * * * * * * *

At the wrap-up session of the Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Stewardship Collaborative 2005, a member of a pilot collaborative and Pastor Jeff Wild from Madison Christian Community stated that: over the past several years their congregation focused on “use of renewables, reducing use and changing behavior” which has “resulted in cutting energy use by at least 40% and (they) expect to reduce it another 10 to 20 percent through the congregation’s ongoing awareness.” The congregation was designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of four Energy Star Congregations in the country. Their efforts have helped attract new members to the congregation.

Recognition for several programs during 2005:

Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton joined the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Wisconsin Partners for Clean Air at their Clean Air Extravaganza to celebrate the accomplishment of Wisconsin businesses and organizations that have taken voluntary actions to improve air quality in the state. The event took place at We Energies headquarters in downtown Milwaukee and was attended by CEOs and other representatives of Wisconsin Partners for Clean Air organizations, and other federal, state and local officials. One of the winners was the Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign for organizing workshops and using other outreach tactics to inform congregations and the public of ways to reduce energy and fuel consumption, supporting a program in India that produces fuel from tree oil to run equipment in local villages, http://www.wisconsinipl.org/carbonoffsetprogram.htm and supporting the diesel school bus retrofit program. See the award at http://www.wisconsinipl.org/awards.htm


In December 2005, Energy Stewards I launched its Energy Savings Program in conjunction with We Energies, the Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign, Franklin Energy and Rapid Improvement Associates.

On February 14, 2006, an agreement was signed between Franklin Energy
Services and Wisconsin Interfaith Climate & Energy Campaign (WICEC) in which
Franklin Energy was contracted by We Energies to perform services for religious
and social non-profits.

Franklin Energy did most of the work in the program itself as a consulting
contractor for We Energies. They arranged for the incentives, and ran the

The goal of the program was to bring awareness to the religious and non-profit communities of the potential energy, financial and environmental savings currently available though upgrading existing equipment to more efficient systems, equipment and practices.

Since that time the collaborative has expanded tremendously in the southeastern
part of Wisconsin, which is We Energies’ service area. Incentives were provided
by We Energies and Focus on Energy.

WICEC’s founder and long time leader, Dave Steffenson, continued to serve as WICEC’s representative and all of the Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Stewardship Collaboratives.

Energy Stewards Project
Energy Incentives from We Energies
March 2007


Customer: 34 religious congregations and non-profit organizations.

Project: Energy Stewards 1

Estimated total project costs: $1.3 million

Incentives: $267,873

Estimated savings achieved: kW: 247.8; $/year: $119,000
Therms: 101,964; $/year: $101,964
CO2: 835 tons/year.

Source of lead: Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign

Date completed: December 2006

2007 recognition for additional Stewardship activity:

In addition to WICEC cosponsoring the Collaborative, Huda Alkaff, a member of WICEC’s board of directors promoted a new program. During October 2007, the 1st Annual Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Awareness Month, the Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin and WICEC met their goal of obtaining 100 household pledges to use energy efficient CFLs. They helped to empower a saving of 84,600 kWh of energy, $7,868, and prevented 122,700 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. You can see the Energy Star Certificate of Achievement at: http://www.wisconsinipl.org/awards.htm

2008 recognition for another Stewardship activity:

Again, in 2008 In celebration of the Second Annual Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Awareness Month (October 2008), the Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin in partnership with the Wisconsin Interfaith Climate & Energy Campaign helped to empower an estimated saving of 286,040 kilowatt hours of energy, $41,400, and prevented 539,170 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions! See the Energy Star Certificate of Achievement at: http://www.wisconsinipl.org/awards.htm

2009 still more recognition for Stewardship activity:

In celebration of the Third Annual Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Awareness Month (October 2009), the Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin in partnership with the Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign helped to empower an estimated saving of 189,348 kilowatt hours of energy, $27,747, and prevented 356,186 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions! http://www.wisconsinipl.org/awards.htm

2010 Energy Stewards Program in action:

Several new workshops are being carried out during 2010 at First Unitarian Church in Brookfield on April 13th; First Congregational Church of Port Washington on July 21st; Appleton area congregations on August 31st; Kenosha area on September 14th; and Racine on October 5th. Other workshops may be planned.

2010 WICEC becomes WIPL:

On January 13, 2010, Wisconsin Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign (WICEC) became Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light (WIPL) http://www.wisconsinipl.org as the 31st state interfaith organization to affilitate with the nation-wide Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) http://interfaithpowerandlight.org/. IPL “advocates for clean energy, conservation and responsible stewardship of Creation in response to global warming” which our group has done since 1999.

What is Stewardship?
" Stewardship is everything you do once you've said 'yes' to God." It's not just about money or giving. It includes every choice you make - including how you will impact the world and its resources.
As good stewards, we are responsible for our property as well as our choices and actions. Religious facilities are as much a part our ministries as people, religious services and programs.
Yet, in proportion to the amount of use, on average, religious buildings waste more energy than any other kind of structure in America. Many of our buildings were built long before we were concerned about global warming, air pollution and resource depletion. Now we know better and are building more efficient, greener, buildings. But many of our congregational "homes" have not caught up.
We encourage congregations to take concrete steps to respond to global warming by signing on to our “Congregational Covenant” at http://www.wisconsinipl.org/assets/join/Congregation%20Covenant.pdf, not as a separate program, but as part of their ongoing stewardship education and commitments. In addition to increasing energy efficiency at your facility, the Wisconsin Interfaith Energy Stewardship Collaborative <http://www.wisconsinipl.org/energystewardship.htm> includes a component for small groups in each congregation to examine their own family lifestyles and take positive actions to model better stewardship.
Future for Energy Stewardship Collaboratives:
Through contacts by Rich Bogovich, WICEC made several attempts to interest MG&E and Alliant utilities to set up a similar program in their service areas, but to no avail so far even though they both complimented us. There is also a possibility that Focus on Energy would be willing to provide incentives to establish a statewide Interfaith Energy Stewardship Collaborative.

Dave Steffenson is now retired from WIPL (formerly WICEC). Rich Bogovich is now employed full-time with Franklin Energy, and is a certified LEED analyst and has done some work for Franklin with congregations. It is up to present and future board members to see that this program continues and expands to other parts of the state.

[Information compiled on February 24, 2010, based on files from Warren Gaskill, memory recollections from Dave Steffenson and Wayne Stroessner, information from We Energies websites and other websites.]


Dr. Peter Bakken, State Coordinator
Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light
750 Windsor Street - Suite # 301
Sun Prairie, WI 53590-2149
PH: (608) 837- 3108
(c/o Wisconsin Council of Churches)

(c) 2010 WIPL. All rights reserved.