Try 1, 2 or all 3 of the ideas below. Click on the buttons to learn jump to the content.
Switch to 100% green energy
Save $ and cut your church facility’s emissions
The power to heat, cool, and light our church facilities generally comes from carbon-sourced power plants (power plants that run off of coal, oil, and natural gas). Ironically, churches have higher carbon footprints because buildings have low use outside of worship hours.
Power plants are the biggest source of air pollution in the United States and a primary source of the pollutants that cause climate change, health impacts such as asthma, and other respiratory problems. Roughly 50% of the electricity generated across the United States is produced by burning coal – a dirty and polluting carbon fuel. Another 25% is produced by burning natural gas – another heat-trapping fossil fuel. In Maryland, 39% of our greenhouse gas emissions are from electricity generation (coal) and another 16% are from fuels used in homes, offices and churches (natural gas or heating oil).
The easiest and most effective way to reduce pollutants from electricity use is to switch your churches’ electricity supplier to a renewable energy company source. And Greengrace has done the work for you by partnering with the non-profit Groundswell.
Groundswell’s mission is to empower faith-based communities to come together and access a low price and fair contract for clean energy. By joining with other faith-based organizations, Groundswell can negotiate much lower electricity rates than organizations can access on their own.
Another key benefit to joining the Groundswell community for organizations is that their team can walk the church decision makers through all facets of the purchase decision. And, as yearly electricity contracts expire, Groundswell will ensure that churches are re-enrolled with the lowest cost suppliers.
To contact Groundswell’s small business team directly, call Ann Li at 240.242.5653 or complete this email form and Groundswell will contact you soon.
Also consider switching your church facility to a climate-friendly natural gas product which can be purchased through Washington Gas Energy Services http://www.wges.com/.
Starting an Environmental or Creation Care Committee
One of humankind’s most important responsibilities is stewardship of God’s Earth, “that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory” (Prayers of the People, Form IV, Rite II, Book of Common Prayer). How do you start a parish committee charged with promoting and nurturing “the just and proper use” of creation?
Find out what your parish’s procedures are for starting a committee.
- Speak to the rector, wardens or vestry members about any policies and procedures that should be followed.
Think about where such a committee may fit best in the governance structure and ministries of your parish.
- If your parish has a committee focused on buildings and grounds, and/or a property manager, what would their relationship be to the new environmental committee?
- Would they be separate entities?
- Would one be a subcommittee of the other?
Look for allies to help with the work of getting started.
- Church leadership may be more open to considering an idea that has the support of many rather than the support of a few.
- Environmental stewardship is a topic that can unite many constituencies of all ages. We all live downstream from others; we all have a stake in the welfare of “this fragile earth, our island home” (Eucharistic Prayer C, Book of Common Prayer).
Think about mission.
- What is your committee’s mission going to be? It will be important to articulate clearly the connections between leading a God-centered life and making wise but perhaps challenging and inconvenient environmental choices.
- Remember the three-legged stool of Anglicanism: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Think about how your mission can honor each.
Look for resources to help in starting and maintaining your committee.
- Many resources are available through the Maryland Diocese’s GreenGrace web site.
- Explore what other churches have done and how they’ve done it.
- Explore other related resources such as:
Once started, give yourself some immediate victories.
- Look for some tangible progress that can be had without too much effort, to help get the ball rolling with your committee.
- Greening coffee hour: recycling, using fair-trade coffee (e.g., Bishops Blend from Episcopal Relief and Development), etc.
- Switching to LED or other low energy light bulbs.
- Organizing a youth group volunteer effort at a local animal shelter.
- Switching electricity providers to have the church run on green energy.
- Communicate: make sure your congregation knows what you are doing and how they can follow similar practices at home.
Use the parish bulletin, email, posters, parish web site, etc. to get your message out.
Complete a Church Energy Audit
Energy efficiency changes, often simple ones, can save big money each month while improving your church building’s comfort levels.
Worshiping in environmentally and energy efficient structures helps us live our faith in daily practice. An added benefit is that parishioners can model the steps taken at our parish building and implement them in their homes.
Though it may seem daunting to begin the task of improving your church and buildings energy efficiency, check out the free resources below available to learn about the process.
An important task will be to complete a building walk-through energy assessment where a certified expert analyzes your church buildings heating and cooling systems, building construction and airtight qualities, lighting, toxins and other systems that support energy efficiency.
The good news is that Maryland desperately wants small businesses and non-profits to reduce electricity and heating fuel usage and offers a suite of energy efficiency programs (including building energy audits) through Maryland’s five power utilities. The energy efficiency programs are part of Governor O’Malley’s 2008 EmPOWER Maryland legislation.
Click on your utility below to learn more about energy audits and Empower Maryland energy saver programs:
BGE Most churches fall under small business category 410.290.1202.
PotomacEdison Churches fall under small business program 855.599.4755
SMECO Churches fall under small business program 888.440.3311.
Delmarva: Links to Delmarva’s energy assessment programs.
Pepco: Links to Pepco’s energy assessment programs.
Also, consider enrolling in the gold standard of church energy retrofit programming, Greenfaith’s Certification Program. A two-year environmental leadership program for houses of worship, GreenFaith offers extensive resources, one-on-one coaching, support and networking opportunities to help houses of faith conduct holistic and successful environmental programming. GreenFaith is an interfaith environmental non-profit.