Carbon Neutral Initiative at Good Shepherd

On Sunday, June 5th 2022, the Good Shepherd Congregation voted to go forward in partnership with Mission Green LLC on the carbon neutral initiative. Stay up to date on the progress of the project here, and learn about it below.


As of today, 1/17/23, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has stopped using Natural Gas to heat our facility! The new air-to-air heat pumps are now running and fully operational! Huzzah!

Vick’s Heating and Plumbing will monitor the system for the next week. Once the systems have passed this test, the Black Hills Energy gas line will be terminated.

The remaining work is the final installation of the Sanctuary’s auxiliary heat/air purifier/humidifier. 

The ceiling tiles in the hallways will be replaced during the first week of February. When this is completed, it will mark the end of “Phase I” of the Good Shepherd Carbon Neutral Initiative. “Phase II” (French Drain, permeable paver courtyard, post and beam pergola, and 28 kW solar array) will commence in the spring as soon as the ground thaws to allow construction to begin.

Jim and Liz Fritz

Mission Green LLC

January 12 – We lost 2+ weeks on the HVAC project due to the holidays (short weeks) and the nasty cold spell we had at that time. Vick’s spent all of its time repairing other systems that shut down due to the extreme weather. After the weather subsided, they spent another week doing emergency installs for furnaces that had completely quit. 

Even with these setbacks, the work is progressing. All head units in the Sanctuary, hallways, offices, library, nursery, bathrooms, and Sacristy have been hung and connected. Later this week, Vick’s will pressurize the system to check for leaks. Once that test is completed successfully, representatives from LG will be on site to energize the system with Freon. At that time, the heat pumps can be turned on, and the gas furnaces turned off!

The wooden plenum behind the organ, which covers the VRF lines as they enter the building, is installed. The organ will now be uncovered as all dust-producing jobs are done. The remaining holes from the old registers in the Sanctuary will be covered with flush, color-matched plates.

The auxiliary electric backup heater for the Sanctuary will be installed next. This includes a 15 kW resistive heater, a blower motor sufficient for the size of the space, an air purifying system that includes a MERV filter, a carbon filter, a UV light to kill bacteria, and finally, a steam/mist humidifier. This unit will eliminate the need for the small humidifier and dehumidifier now used to help stabilize the environment for the organ. It will be on an automatically controlled thermostat/humidistat/timer system.

We plan to replace the suspended ceiling in the hallways and entry area when all HVAC systems are installed. We hope to have the heat pump phase of the project completed by mid-February.

The final phase: French drain, permeable paver courtyard, pergola, and solar canopy (27 kW), will begin in the spring after the ground thaws.

This is the manifold of the VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) lines that branch out to all the head units in the library, nursery, and bathrooms.
These are all the lines that go along the ceiling in the entry area.
This is one of the head units in the hallway outside the bathrooms
These are the new head units in the Sanctuary over the organ. The old duct holes will be covered.
Dec. 12

We have much to report as the Good Shepherd Carbon Neutral Initiative is moving forward!
After a long delay due to supply chain issues, the new 600 amp service entrance was bored into the church from the relocated Alliant transformer.  There are several large electrical boxes now installed on the south side of the Education Wing.
There are now 52 solar panels (21 kW) mounted on the Education Wing and office roofs.  These will begin producing electricity as soon as Alliant Energy turns on the meter.
A new mini-split heat pump was installed in the Annex.  In the 1988 addition, the ceiling tiles were removed, the old ductwork was removed, and all duct register openings are being sheetrocked. The many penetrations (from over the years) through the hallway ceiling sheetrock have been fireproofed, the 3 heat pumps are installed on the south side of the Sanctuary, and the wall units in the Sanctuary are in the process of being installed.
The plan is to have the Sanctuary switched to the new HVAC system by Christmas. This is the priority. The offices, library, bathrooms, Sacristy, and hallways will be completed next.  

Much care and attention are being paid to properly condition the Sanctuary for the long-term health of the organ and baby grand as well as congregants. The small humidifier/dehumidifiers will be replaced with a commercial-grade humidification system, and the new HVAC will dehumidify appropriately. The new air purification system will integrate MERV/carbon/LED UV elements. There will be backup heat in case of extreme winter conditions.

This is a large project with lots of moving parts. While there are currently no “unknowns” that will slow the process, it will still take time. The congregation’s patience with this process is greatly appreciated. The goal is to have the facility be 100% electric by 1/1/2023. After the HVAC work is completed, we can unhook the gas lines.

The final phase: French drain, permeable paver courtyard, pergola, and solar canopy (27 kW), will begin in the spring after the ground thaws.

Jim and Liz Fritz

Mission Green LLC

November 14th

Many Thanks to our Volunteers

We had an incredible Sunday afternoon work event due to amazing volunteers! We removed all the ceiling tiles and gridwork in preparation for the HVAC installation. 

We are grateful to all who helped Sunday: Reg Laursen, Brooke Joyce, Dave Peterson, Bob Felde, Sharon Drew, Bob Wilson, Lance Wood, Christy and Jeff Tomlinson, and Laura Barlament. It was dusty and dirty, but spirits were high! Thank you! Thank you!

The new service entrance was completed on Friday, November 11th, and Alliant installed the new transformer. Decorah Electric has finished installing all the large electrical boxes on the south side of the Education Wing.

This week we will receive 52 new solar panels. These panels will be installed on the roof of the Education Wing and over the offices next to the Sanctuary. An additional 200 amp service panel will be installed near the new heat pumps on the south side of the Sanctuary. We also hope to have the new gutter installed on the Education Wing in preparation for the French Drain. All of this work will be completed by Thanksgiving.

During the week of Thanksgiving, Vick’s Heating and Plumbing will begin the installation of the new HVAC system. This will involve punching through the south side of the Sanctuary (in the corner behind the organ) and then running new VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) lines down the office hallway to all the various rooms. Once this has been completed, we will be 100% electric and will be able to take advantage of both our solar arrays. This installation process will take several weeks, but this should be done before Christmas (and we can permanently turn off the gas line!).

We hope to have all the ceiling tiles replaced before Christmas (it’ll take a lot longer to put them up than it did to take them down!!!). We also plan to have a plasterer (Good Shepherd Charter Member Torg Berg) repair all the holes left by the heat registers that will no longer be used. This will happen both before and after Christmas. Finally, the painting will need to be completed on all these plaster repairs.

At that point, we will pause for the winter and resume construction of the French Drain, permeable paver courtyard, pergola, and solar canopy in the spring after the ground thaws.

Jim and Liz Fritz

Mission Green LLC

November 10

Sharing some pictures of the recent work on the Mission Green Project. Check out more in the Good Shepherd Flickr account. 
The new service panel has been installed. This is the part we were waiting on for so long.
On Friday, November 11th, Alliant Energy will connect the new transformer on the east lot line (picture on the bottom right) and switch from the old service entrance to the new one (picture on the bottom left).

The entire building will be without power for much of the day on Friday.

Alliant hooking up new service entrance
New Service Entrance Equipment

October 31st, 2022

Work is finally starting to commence on the solar and heat pump project proposed by Mission Green and accepted by the congregation last June.

The concrete slab for the new heat pumps (south side of the Sanctuary) has been completed. 

Timeline for Upcoming work:

Wednesday 11/2/22 – West Union Trenching will bore underground conduit from the east lot line to the south side of the Education Wing.

Friday 11/4/11 – Decorah Electric will install the new service entrance box and all electrical boxes needed for the solar installation on the south wall of the Education Wing.

Week of 11/7/22 – Lifetime Gutters will install a new gutter system along the south side of the Education Wing in preparation for the French drain.

Friday 11/11/22 – Alliant Energy will install the new transformer on the east lot line and switch from the old service entrance to the new one. The entire building will be without power for much of the day.

***Volunteers needed

Sunday afternoon, 11/13/22 – Jim Fritz and volunteers will remove the ceiling tiles from the Sanctuary hallways and entry in preparation for the new HVAC equipment to be installed. Volunteers are needed to help with this process. No heavy lifting. Minimal ladder work. We will start at 1 pm and be done no later than 4 pm. Please email Jim at: if you’re able to help.

Wednesday 11/15/22 – Installation of the new HVAC system will begin.

We will still be under construction throughout the Thanksgiving holiday in the Sanctuary area. We “hope” to have things put back together again by mid-December.

Due to oncoming winter weather, the French drain, permeable paver courtyard, pergola, and solar canopy/array will begin once the ground thaws in the spring.

We’ll do our best to keep everyone updated on progress/changes/etc.

Jim and Liz Fritz

Mission Green LLC

Questions/concerns? Contact Jim and Liz at:

October 11th, 2022


The necessary electrical panels have arrived! Decorah Electric will move the old Alliant transformer late next week or early the following week. 

Vick’s Heating and Plumbing will most likely start the installation of the heat pumps in early November. Prior to that work all of the dropped ceiling tiles in the hallways and entry will need to be removed. This will occur so that all the old ductwork can be removed, and the new heat pump lines can be installed.  In our “perfect world” the installation of the heat pump HVAC system will be complete by Thanksgiving.  But, realistically, delays happen.  We’ll do everything in our power to minimize the disruption.

It is also our goal to get the roof-mounted solar panels installed before winter. 

Cold weather will probably force part of the project to be put on hold and commence in the spring.  This would include the French Drain, courtyard/pergola/solar canopy. Waiting for Spring also allows Kinderhaus to access the exit in that area through the winter months.  

We should be heated by electricity and heat pumps this winter!!  

This is a great thing considering the current news that natural gas prices will spike again this winter!

Questions/concerns? Contact Jim and Liz at:

August 2nd, 2022

GOOD NEWS: Last week, we were informed that Good Shepherd would receive a $12,500 grant to offset the costs associated with the Carbon Neutral Initiative. This grant is through Hammond Climate Solutions,,  a foundation based in San Diego, California. Jim applied for this grant this past spring, and we mentioned that we hoped we might be eligible. The funding should arrive following the completion of the installation of our solar equipment and heat pumps.

BAD NEWS: The realities of worldwide supply chain disruptions are also affecting our Carbon Neutral Initiative. We knew that there would be some delays with the needed equipment, but unfortunately, the delays are going to be even greater than we had anticipated. The current equipment delays are with the Square D electrical cabinets and main breakers for the updated electrical infrastructure. 

Unfortunately, in the proper sequence of construction events, this electrical equipment must be installed first before any other parts of the entire project can proceed. At this time, we’re probably looking at another month of delays. In the best-case scenario, we hope to be moving forward in the middle of August. However, until this Square D electrical equipment shows up, the entire project will be on hold.

Questions/concerns? Contact Jim and Liz at:


Visit their website to learn more: and watch the proposal video and discussion with experts video below: 

Jim and Liz Fritz are 30-year members of Good Shepherd. They’re both retired band directors, having taught in Decorah for 30 years, and live just two blocks from Good Shepherd. They have owned and operated a sole proprietorship business for over 25 years involving rental units and upgrading properties in their neighborhood. They have formed Mission Green, LLC specifically for the Carbon Neutral Initiative that is being proposed.

The business relationship would be established through a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) and a lease between Good Shepherd Church and Mission Green, LLC. These financial contracts will provide a conduit to an affordable solution allowing for payments over time. The expenses to the church will be predetermined throughout the life of the contracts. Mission Green is responsible for all liabilities and contingencies.

Benefits of this Project:

    • Good Shepherd Church becomes Carbon Neutral
    • Proactive replacement of aging 34 year old furnaces eliminates reactive, expensive replacement
      • Upgrades at reduced rate (approx. 70% value) to Good Shepherd, spread out over 7 years
    • At the end of the lease and Power Purchase Agreement, Good Shepherd will own all heat pumps with an advanced air purification system for the Sanctuary and upgraded electrical equipment, create all of their own energy using solar and have a covered waterproof courtyard.

At their April meeting the church Council voted to allow the congregation to vote on the Initiative on June 5. The vote was not an endorsement at this time, simply providing an opportunity for the congregation to have a voice in this decision. Mission Green’s proposal is a comprehensive plan utilizing the latest/best technologies available. It will provide Good Shepherd with a long horizon of Carbon Neutrality. More importantly, it also includes the ability to guarantee energy costs (versus the volatile situation we are currently in) and the opportunity to redirect future energy costs towards more vital church missions.

Any questions may be directed to Jim and Liz at: