Greening Your Church Community Project
We've produced a resource to help church projects see how they can be more environmentally friendly and reduce their carbon footprint. For a downloadable pdf, CLICK HERE.
- Why is it important?
- General Tips
- Greening Your… …Office
- …Community Building/Church
- …Community Café
- Green Project Ideas
- Useful Organisations/Websites
Why is it important? (back to top)
In the stress of running a local community project, where resources are stretched and funding uncertain, environmental concerns often drop to the bottom of the agenda. However, creation care is an integral part of our Christian Mission. This is not only in terms of good stewardship of our planet but also in terms of justice. Environmental problems have a much bigger impact on the world’s poor.
Also, becoming more environmentally friendly is not only good for us spiritually, it is often good for our projects financially – it helps reduce our running costs and so improve the long term sustainability.
General tips (back to top)
1) Don’t do it alone
Environmental issues run through all areas of a community project. It’s a big subject, particularly if you are managing a building. Ideally, you’d have a small team to take it on with each member having one area of knowledge to absorb.
2) Have a clear aim
A good way of getting your staff and volunteers on board is by linking it in with a campaign (e.g. 10:10 Campaign or Climate Week 2011) or with an award/accreditation (e.g. Eco-Congregation Award run by A Rocha UK - http://ew.ecocongregation.org/award). People like to work towards something that is tangible. This helps to give you focus and also opportunity to celebrate achieving a goal as a team.
3) Do what you can do
Climate change is a massive issue and it is easy to feel disempowered. However things will only improve if we each do our bit. There are often small, low cost changes to our buildings (and our habits) that can have a big impact on our carbon footprint (and often as well our energy bills!). Don’t wait until you have a new church hall designed and built or when your community project has finally moved into the premises that the local council said would become available. Start where you are – don’t procrastinate.
Greening Your Office (back to top)
Turn computers and monitors off
Make sure the computers and monitors are fully turned off overnight (i.e. not just on standby) or if you’re going into a long meeting away from your desk. Switching computers off can make savings of £30-£70 from energy costs per PC. Make little notes to stick on people’s computers reminding them to turn off. 10:10 have good resources for this – (http://www.1010global.org/uk/resources)
Turn office equipment off
A photocopier left on standby overnight wastes enough energy to make 30 cups of tea! Put a notice up in the office for the “last one out” to make sure items which won’t be used are switched off.
Use recycled paper and environmentally friendly cleaning products
For every tonne of paper used for recycling enough electricity is saved to power an average 3 bedroom house for one year.
Encourage people to only print out if absolutely necessary
Provide training to people to use “track change” facility on Word so that corrections to long documents are done electronically rather printing out and correcting with pen. This saves the environment and saves time. If your printer/ photocopier has a double-sided setting, make this the default setting.
Go energy efficient
When computers, printers, monitors need replacing, upgrade to energy efficient models. They will save money in the long run as well as energy. Energy efficiency is especially important with items like fridges if you have a kitchen. Manufacturers are constantly improving efficiency so go for the best you can afford if you want to be as green as you can.
- 10:10 Checklists (www.1010global.org/uk/organisations/faith/cut)
- Green Workplace Guide (www.cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/538/2004/39099145631.pdf)
Greening Your Community Building/Church (back to top)
Replace normal light bulbs with low energy types (have a look at the useful guidance here - http://bit.ly/aMpAVA) – one low energy bulb can reduce lighting costs by £100 over the lifetime of the bulb. Remember to turn off lights if the room isn’t being used – you could put signs/stickers up on doors reminding people.
Set your heating thermostat to the ideal temperature of 19-20oC. Your heating costs will rise 8% for every degree you increase your temperature. There can be relatively low cost ways of increasing heating efficiency such as individual thermostats, insulation, reflective panels behind radiators and draught excluders on doors and windows.
Look into green tariffs, particularly from firms that specialise in supplying renewable energy (e.g. Good Energy, ecotricity). There is also the option of generating your own electricity through solar or wind power and being able to sell the excess back into the Grid. However, there are still considerable costs for this, even taking into account grants and feed-in tariffs (more information see http://info.cat.org.uk/). It is worth making sure you’ve addressed all energy saving measures first before considering renewable energy generation. If you are approached by a company offering to fit solar PV panels, checkout the useful guidance from the Centre for Sustainable Energy. Always check that any installers are registered with the governments MCS scheme - www.microgenerationcertification.org.
If you’re looking for funding to help make your building more environmentally friendly, National Energy Action have a great list of suitable funders – check out: http://www.nea.org.uk/community-buildings/
- Greening your Church - EcoCongregation - http://ew.ecocongregation.org/resources/module7
- A Rocha - Living Lightly - http://arochalivinglightly.org.uk/Groups/95377/Home/Take_Action/Church/Church.aspx
- Greening your Community Building – NEA - www.nea.org.uk/community-buildings
Greening Your Community Café (back to top)
In terms of making your community café or lunch club more environmental, remember LOAF – Local, Organic, Animal friendly, Fairly traded.
Where possible link up with local suppliers and farmers (through local veg box schemes or local farmers markets). This helps in terms of food quality, reducing your carbon footprint and also means that you are investing in the local economy. You could also build relationships with local allotment or landshare schemes to see if they can provide you with produce. Ideally you should be using reusable plates and mugs but where you need to use disposable, try to get biodegradable cups and plates.
Green Projects Ideas (back to top)
If you’re interested in running a community project with an environmental spin, below are some ideas to explore:
Setting up projects that recycle furniture reduce landfill and provide cheap/free goods to people on low incomes. Through setting up showrooms and accessing recycling credits, these projects can be effective social enterprises. You could also encourage your church to donate clothes which can be recycled to local homeless projects.
Tackling Fuel Poverty
More than 5 million households in the UK can’t afford to keep adequately warm in winter, often as a result of poor insulation and inefficient heating. You could provide advice and support to isolated and vulnerable people in accessing insulation schemes/grants (such as Warm Front) and also help them find the cheapest energy supplier. This improves people’s health, comfort and our carbon footprint.
Setting up an allotment project can help promote better physical and mental health, communication between different generations and grow produce that has a very low carbon footprint. If there is wasteground nearby, you could look at the landshare scheme which is an initiative to make more use of available land to grow food. For more info, see www.landshare.net or contact A Rocha UK - firstname.lastname@example.org who have several urban food-growing initiatives.
An effective way of engaging young people in environmental issues is through campaigning. Two effective climate change campaigns (with useful resources and events) are: Stop Climate Chaos (www.stopclimatechaos.org) and Campaign Against Climate Change (www.campaigncc.org). You could also contact email@example.com their Young Adults Coordinator who can advise on getting youth groups and young adults engaged in practical environmental action.
You could set up a bike recycling project where old bikes can be repaired and sold on. This type of project has a number of benefits. It benefits the environment as bicycle recycling requires very little energy and new resource input compared to manufacturing new bikes. Projects can provide employment and because bike recycling is relatively easy to learn, projects can provide training to local people in bike maintenance and involve marginalised people such as the homeless and young offenders. It also increases access to cycling for people on low incomes and non-cyclists, because recycled bikes are cheaper than new bikes and generally safer than other second-hand bikes. Finally, bike recycling promotes cycling, with all its attendant benefits such as reduced pollution and congestion on the roads and health benefits for cyclists. For more info, see www.bikerecycling.co.uk.
Nature Conservation - community gardens/pocket parks
There may be areas in your local area that could be adapted into a community garden. Churchyards could be turned into areas of biodiversity (more info: http://ew.ecocongregation.org/resources/module9 and www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk). The process of converting land into this use and its upkeep can be a great form of community cohesion and could involve local schools. You can also market it to funders as a “green gym” – with people improving their strength and stamina whilst improving local green spaces. Also creating green spaces in urban areas (particularly where there are few parks) can have a big impact on improving mental health. Research has shown that safe, green spaces may be as effective as prescription drugs for treating mild to moderate forms of depression and anxiety.
Useful Organisations/Websites (back to top)
Eco-congregationEngland and Wales is a project of A Rocha UK. It is a tool to help churches begin to address environmental issues in all that they do. It has useful modules covering worship/teaching on environment, practical ideas for buildings, churches and land as well as possible projects. Much of this information could be adapted to be used with Christian community projects.
A Rocha is a Christian environment and nature conservation movement. It runs a mixture of community projects, schools education materials and church resources.
Shrinking the Footprint (www.shrinkingthefootprint.cofe.anglican.org)
This is the Church of England’s national environmental campaign which aims for the Church carbon footprint reduction of 42% by 2020. It has details about how churches can get involved, examples of good practice and green ideas for using churchyards.
High profile campaign/movement to enable individuals and organisations to cut their carbon by 10% in a year. Good checklists and useful in encouraging and envisioning staff/volunteer teams.
National Energy Action (www.nea.org.uk)
NEA develops and promotes energy efficiency services to tackle heating and insulation problems, particularly in low-income households. It also has useful information for community buildings and projects.
Energy Saving Trust (www.energysavingtrust.org.uk)
Organisation set up to help people and organisations save energy and reduce carbon emissions, particularly useful for household/individual ideas.
Carbon Trust (www.carbontrust.co.uk)
Carbon Trust provide specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies.
Stop Climate Chaos Coalition (www.stopclimatechaos.org)
Campaign dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the world’s poorest communities.
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