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Pilgrim Lutheran turns roof green

Pilgrim Lutheran Church (ELCA), in St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, has completed construction of its new dark metal roof with textured shingles, a sharp look atop the existing classic brick, and functional as well. The congregation chose a metal roof in part because of its environmental sustainability — its 50-year lifespan equal to about three asphalt roofs — will significantly reduce material use.
“Our congregation is concerned about issues of sustainability and environmental stewardship,” roof committee member Carl Samuelson told Metro Lutheran. “As soon as we knew we needed to replace the roof, we were driven to questions about what the most ethical roof would be.”

Pilgrim Lutheran Church, St. Paul, has a new shingled steel roof installed. The new roof should last at least 50 years. Photo: Chuck Regal

“Once a congregation develops an environmental ethic, opportunities [to make sustainable choices] are available all the time.”

Samuelson said that the committee considered replacing the roof with asphalt, steel, copper, or slate. Architecturally, the roof was originally designed for slate. But, the roof committee was persuaded by the fact that the lifespan of a steel roof is minimally 50 years.
“Although it is challenging to look at a larger initial [price tag], we do think we will save a lot of money over the life of the roof,” Samuelson said.
Chuck Regal, another roof committee member, reported that the church felt cooler this past summer already, noting that the winter utility bills will provide more concrete proof. The church got a substantial increase in its insulation under the metal roof, in the lower side roofs, and in the office wing, which pretty much maxes out the insulation potential.

No end to the possibilities

Choosing the roof has been an educational process, according to Samuelson. In addition to reflecting sunlight, members expect better ventilation since there is a little air space under the shingles. Members also expect the roof can be recycled after it has served the congregation.
“Once a congregation develops an environmental ethic,” explained Samuelson, “opportunities [to make sustainable choices] are available all the time.”
The congregation dedicated the new “green” roof during its worship services on September 18. Pilgrim Lutheran is located at 1935 St. Clair Avenue in St. Paul. For more information, call 651/699-6886 or go to
For information about the metal roof shingles, visit the website

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