Science, Sustainability and Spirituality Join Forces in Architecture

Green is good! At Sparano + Mooney Architecture, our architects value providing innovative, modern and sustainable design solutions for our clients. So, we were excited to read that two of our award-winning projects, the Saint Joseph the Worker Church and the Saint Marguerite School, have recently taken steps to continue their conservation efforts. 

Sparano + Mooney Architecture was honored to provide community outreach, programming, master planning and design services for the Saint Joseph the Worker Church in West Jordan, which was built in 2011. When the worship project was completed, the design of the building allowed for a reduction in water consumption and xeriscaping was also implemented to help conserve resources. The solar array, installed in 2015, is the latest addition to the parish’s sustainable outlook. The church installed a bank of 55 solar panels to the building, which has cut the power bill by one third. Should more panels be necessary in the future, the required infrastructure is in place. The panels have given the church the ability to produce electricity, be more self-sustaining, help care for the environment and reduce its power bill. “Going green is kind of a big commitment”, says pastoral associate Jeremy Castellano, but the investment has paid off – since the solar panels were installed, the Saint Joseph the Worker Parish has eliminated 15 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and offset the equivalent of more than 2,000 gallons of gasoline and 4.5 million smartphone charges.

Saint Joseph the Worker Church and Saint Marguerite School each received grants through Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky Renewable Energy program to cover a portion of the cost of adding the solar panels to the architecture. The program was initiated in 2006, and it has helped fund over 100 projects in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. The church is working with Synergy Power, who helped facilitate and install the panels, to monitor how much electricity the panels produce, and to reveal other fascinating details about how the church is reducing its carbon footprint. The monitor is situated in the Gathering Space so that visitors can also keep track of the energy data. You can also view the real time data of the solar panel array – just click HERE!

A similar monitor is installed at Saint Marguerite School, also designed by Sparano + Mooney Architecture. The school, located in Tooele, is the third Diocese of Salt Lake City facility in three years to install solar panels (Saint Thomas More Parish was the first to install panels to its parish center in 2014, followed by Saint Joseph the Worker Church). Principal Lorena Needham says that the 32-kilowatt solar array and accompanying monitor allows the teachers to incorporate data from the panels into their curriculum across academic disciplines, adding that “it will enhance our ability to teach care of the environment because we can show by our actions what it is we’re teaching”. 

Photo courtesy Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church. © Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church

The solar panel arrays on Saint Joseph the Worker Church and Saint Marguerite School are not yet large enough to power the entire facility, but the savings are measurable and significant nonetheless. However, as Castellano states, “it’s not only about saving money, which is of course important when you’re running a church on donations, but the real big pro is helping save the environment, and that’s part of what we look at is being Catholic here: protecting the environment and God’s creation, and this is our way of making a small, little difference in our little corner of the world”. Amen to that!

Thinking about starting an eco-friendly architectural project of your own? As experts in sustainability in architecture, we can provide you with sustainable design guidelines and audits, sustainable project planning, passive design and LEED consulting services, net zero projects and LEED certified architecture. Give us a call – our architects will be happy to talk to you about your next green design project in California, Utah and beyond! 


1.       “Solar Panels Help Parishes Continue Conservation Efforts and Save Money”, by Marie Mischel, Intermountain Catholic, 29 July 2016, Vol. 78 No. 28 (print and online)

2.       “Solar Panels”, Saint Joseph the Worker Church website (online)