Long Prairie

Local church opens the door to energy efficiency

November 2023

Winter in Minnesota. Guess what?… It can be cold. To prevent turning into snowfolk, we tend to take refuge indoors. But for the good people at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Catholic Church and School, their cozy refuge was being rocked by icy blasts every time someone used their main doors in the winter. That’s why leaders from the church in Long Prairie, Minnesota (pop. 3661), decided to take action.

“I learned that you don't have to look very far to find projects that can have a positive impact on your school's energy efficiency, especially when you have a 116 year-old building!” noted Linda Dinkel, who helped shepherd in the project.

Exterior door to building. Covered in frost and handprints.

Pre-renovations. At thirty below outside, things were looking (and feeling) frosty inside!

Exterior view of front door.

Changes in progress.

A vestibule with new interior and exterior doors.

New entrance, who dis? The vestibule will keep cold weather from rushing into the building. 

Get in here and warm up!

To dispel the chill, the church conducted several exciting renovations. Most noticeable of the changes was that they created a vestibule entrance to the main doors of the school. This meant building a frame, installing new exterior entrance doors, installing new security locks, and installed lighting and heating in the vestibule. Additionally, they removed and re-poured a new sidewalk and concrete steps, installed two new interior doors, and re-caulked the windows above the interior doors.

“The vestibule is used by our students, their families, our staff and visitors as the primary entrance to our school,” said Dinkel. “Now we are providing a more energy-efficient entrance to our school. The vestibule allows people to ‘get out of the elements’ when they enter through the first door. Plus, the security system attached to the interior doors is far more secure than our previous system.”

"Honestly, the process was extremely easy, and we are grateful for any help we get. The CERTs Seed Grant was a great boost for the project!"


Linda Dinkel

There's room for more!

Next, the parish and school are looking at improving the south entrance to the school, which also loses a lot of hear in the winter. 

Ms. Dinkel shared some thoughts for other communities interested in the CERTs Seed Grants. “My advice would be to assess your building or project carefully, identify where the greatest need or opportunity is, and apply! It was not difficult nor did it involve excessive reporting or paperwork.”

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