St. Andrew’s work toward meeting the Genesis Covenant and beyond
Back in 2009, the Episcopal General Convention adopted the Genesis Covenant which is “a public commitment by the Church to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from every facility it maintains by a minimum of 50% within ten years.” In our diocese, this Covenant is viewed as part of one of our three priority areas — stewardship of all resources, including the earth.
Our diocese lives this commitment in many ways including through the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment (BCE) whose primary mission is to celebrate and heal God’s creation. The BCE has been providing congregations with resources to meet the goals of this Covenant in three ways. First, by helping churches identify their baseline greenhouse gas emissions. Second, by creating easy access to the EPA’s Portfolio Manager for Houses of Worship which allows users to track and access energy and water consumption within individual buildings. And third, by offering small green grants to churches who retrofit their churches with energy efficiency in mind. The BCE partners with Earth Ministry, an ecumenical faith and environmental organization based here in Seattle to link churches to rich resources for advocacy, information and creation-honoring worship.
We at St. Andrew’s believe in our diocese’s priorities and work in partnership with Earth Ministry to make us a Greening Congregation. (For more information, see http://earthministry.org/greening-congregations/.) This work is done in large part by our Creation Keepers ministry which seeks to increase the focus of care for God’s creation in St. Andrew’s facilities, programs and worship, as well as encourage and support individuals in taking steps in their personal lives toward a more sustainable future.
Reducing our power needs and generating “green” power
Since 2008, prior to the adoption of the Genesis Covenant, St. Andrew’s has been actively pursuing the goal of reducing our emissions and thereby helping to care for our planet. Through the 2008 Green and Growing campaign, St. Andrew’s replaced its boiler, thermostats and some windows which reduced our annual carbon emissions by over seven tons a year or 11% of our base line. Through our 2014 Caring, Connecting Creating campaign, we installed a 9.66 kWh array of solar panels (which takes up approximately 1/4th of our available roof space) which we anticipate will offset an additional 19% of the energy we use in a given year. The solar panel project also received a $500 green grant from BCE and recognition of our work on the diocese’s webpage, see http://www.ecww.org/seattle-church-goes-solar.
Participating in the diocese’s Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission
Is it possible to get rid of the remaining 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions and the other 50%? Potentially; but there are no current plans to do so. Rather, in the short term, St. Andrew’s has turned to the diocese’s Carbon Offset Partnership to offset 50% of our facility’s carbon footprint. This partnership has been set up between our diocese and the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines with the intent that congregations and even individual parishioners can donate the cost to offset their greenhouse gas emissions to reforestation efforts which will provide carbon sequestration, as well as jobs and income in the Southern Philippines, a community which is already experiencing the impact of climate change. (This is what happens when you click on the green “buy Carbon Offsets” button and complete the process through our website.) For more information about our diocese’s Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission, please seehttp://www.ecww.org/carbon-offset-cooperative-mission.
At this time, Carbon Offset funds are coming from a side benefit from our installation agreement with solar provider A&R. Every St. Andrew’s parishioner who purchases a solar system through A&R receives $100 off per kWh of new systems up to $500 and A&R gives a matching donation back to St. Andrew’s. Read about this offer here.
Our Vestry has voted to use all funds received from this donation source to purchase carbon offsets through the partnership. To date, St. Andrew’s has received enough funds to offset 50% of this year’s carbon footprint with some funds carrying over into 2016. For more information about A&R, check out a-rsolar.com.
St. Andrew’s into the future
We have every reason to be proud of the efforts we have made so far in caring for God’s creation and acting as a green leader among houses of faith. Our work toward meeting the Genesis Covenant and beyond is one way we take our role in the world to heart and attempt to truthfully live our faith.
If you would like to learn more about St. Andrew’s Creation Keepers, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.