Seven Key Areas
Faith-consistent use of assets
Buildings and energy
The first of the Seven Key Areas, Faith-Consistent Use of Assets, is a big one. Faiths are major stakeholders in the physical planet when it comes to land, buildings, forests and water – and that's before we get to health care, financial investments and microfinance, and purchasing power and consumption behaviours, all of which fall into this category. For that reason, we have split this section into several pages. Here we focus on buildings and energy.
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Managing your built environment in line with your values
The faiths own a great many buildings, from places of worship to schools, hospitals, health care centres, halls of residence, meeting rooms, restaurants and much more. As a result, they have a significant role to play in managing their land and in reducing the environmental impacts of their buildings, both in construction and day-to-day management.
Questions to consider as you develop your Faith Plan
The guide below provides prompts and pointers to help you identify what steps you can take to use your buildings and energy for the benefit of people and planet. You can also download a copy of the questions to work offline.
BUILDINGS and ENERGY
First steps: Assess the environmental impact of your existing buildings and structures – the places of worship, accommodation and feeding facilities, other community buildings which are owned and managed by your faith organisation (eg, temples, mosques, churches, hospitals, schools, retreat centres, community houses).
1. What are the current uses of your buildings, the status of their structural stability, and need for repair?
2. Are there any pressing energy-related problems regarding building structure and use? For example, how well are your buildings are insulated?
3. What steps can you take to reduce the negative and enhance the positive environmental impact of your building?
4. How can you reduce your energy consumption (eg, energy-saving light-bulbs)?
First steps continued...
5. Can you switch to a local renewable energy provider? Or install renewable energy measures yourself (eg, solar panels, heat pumps etc)
6. Can you switch to a local renewable energy provider? Or install renewable energy measures yourself (eg, solar panels, heat pumps etc)
7. Are funding sources available to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption in your buildings?
7. What organisations do you need to connect with to find out more about energy solutions for your buildings? Are there any in your local area?
8. Do you have examples of good practice in certain sites which could be replicated in other locations?
Next steps: If relevant, identify the construction activity you are likely to undertake in the next few years (including maintenance, repairs and retrofits as well as plans for new buildings).
1. What is the likely environmental impact of your construction activities and decisions?
2. What steps could be considered to minimise negative impacts (eg. source of construction materials, multiple purpose spaces, etc.)?
US-based Catholic groups are switching to renewable energy – and saving money as well as the planet
Catholic Climate Covenant
The Catholic Church has more schools, universities, hospitals and clinics than any country in the world, and it’s also one of the largest investment groups on the globe.
Catholic Climate Covenant is a wonderful example of a Catholic organisation that addresses the pressing issue of climate change through its Catholic Energies programme, which helps Catholic congregations switch to renewables in order to reduce the financial and ecological burden of high energy costs.
Dan Misleh, Executive Director of Catholic Climate Covenant, says: ‘We created Catholic Energies to provide a trusted energy advisory service for the Catholic community.' Currently, Catholic Energies is working on 25 projects across 11 US states, and Puerto Rico – including the US$5 million two-megawatt solar system shown right.
This two-megawatt solar system for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington cost US$5 million and reduces energy costs by several hundred thousand dollars a year. Flowering plants cool the panels, boosting their yield