How much of the earth’s resources does it take to run your church? Electricity, water, and maybe gas are all used in running your church building from day to day. There are lots of tools available to help you to measure and reduce the amount of resources your church uses.
Do an energy audit: Find out how much electricity your building uses, and where, and learn how you can cut back.
Switch to GreenPower: GreenPower is government accredited renewable energy, sourced from the sun, the wind, and wastes, and available through the National Electricity Grid. Switching to GreenPower is only a phone call away. This very simple and practical step sends a powerful message to the market and effectively helps to prevent climate change.
Put a solar hot water heater on the roof of your manse: Church worship sanctuary areas and halls generally don’t use a lot of hot water. However, church residential properties do! Around a third of the electricity used in a home is for heating hot water. Getting a solar hot water heater is very effective (and cost effective) way of reducing electricity consumption. Rebates of approx. $2000 are available from the Australian Government to install solar and heat pump hot water systems to replace electric storage hot water systems. Churches don’t quality for the rebate program. However, people living in residences owned by churches can access the rebate as long as they apply for it personally.
Install solar panels: In addition to reducing the energy use in your church and switching to GreenPower, perhaps your church could consider installing solar photovoltaic panels and generating your own electricity.
To get started on greening your church buildings you could work towards attaining a Five Leaf Eco Award, Basic Certificate. The criteria for the award is a useful checklist of ideas for churches starting out on the greening project. You can find this criteria/checklist here.
Install a rainwater tank: And use the water for your church’s gardens. You could also consider using the water for flushing your toilets. This is a more expensive option because of the plumbing alterations involved, so check with your local council to see if there are other grants that you could access.
Here are 2 congregations that have showed how it can be done:
Maroubra Junction Uniting Church installed a 5,000L water tank, which services 3 toilets (including toilets for a pre-school run by the church) and a garden tap. They received subsidies totalling $2,550 from Randwick City Council and Sydney Water. This simple step has saved the church hundreds of litres per day of water.
Springwood Uniting Church in the Blue Mountains has installed water tanks for regeneration of land near a creek running adjacent to the church block, and for toilet flushing. They obtained a $50,000 partnership grant from the Commonwealth Government. This project has resulted in:
- a 33,500L reinforced concrete in-ground tank retrofitted to the toilets in the Day Care centre and
- a 30,000L above-ground tank to provide irrigation for the regeneration of the land near the creek. As this is within a fire prone area the tank is be available for bush firefighting purposes.