The US federal government designates October as “Energy Awareness Month”, and many organizations mark October 5th as Energy Efficiency Day. Saving energy by making our homes and facilities more energy efficient and using more renewable and clean energy are among the most effective ways we can lower our carbon footprintand lessen the perils of climate change. In this email, you will find numerous ideas to begin or strengthen both your own and your faith community’s efforts on energy efficiency and energy conservation.
October 16th also marks World Food Day. I hope you take a moment and consider the connections between hunger, agriculture, and climate change.
Did your community celebrate the Feast of St. Francis? Please remember to send mephotos and short descriptions of your celebration! Also, though the 90-minute educational program is designed to celebrate the feast day of St. Francis, it can be used at any time of the year.
How will you take action?
“Blessed be you, universal matter, immeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards or measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God.” ― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe
Has your ministry to care for creation led you to encounter God in unexpected ways and places? How have these encounters helped “overflow and dissolve” our sometimes-narrow understanding of the “dimensions of God”?
Let’s focus on energy efficiency! Take 10 minutes to quickly walk through your parish/school building(s) and turn off unnecessary/idle lights, appliances and electronics. (Tip: A power strip can help turn off multiple items at once). Take note of what electronics, appliances, or lights are “energy vampires and phantom loads” and brainstorm ways to stop this energy waste. Set computers to "hibernate" or "sleep" mode. Use the energy-saving setting on equipment such as copiers. Do the same walk-through at home!
1) Set a meeting to discuss energy use and bills with the Parish Council or appropriate committees/leaders about your facility’s energy use.
a) What percentage of the budget goes to energy? Discuss the findings of your 10-minute walk-through and suggest some quick improvements. Is the leadership open to exploring ways to reduce energy and make the buildings more energy efficient? Would they be open to having an energy audit done of the facility? You can check with your state’s Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) or your local utility about energy audits.
b) Is it possible for your community to purchase “clean” or “green power”? Most utilities allow customers to purchase 100% renewable power for a nominal fee.
c) Talk to your facilities manager or building services staff about sustainable practices. Changing lightbulbs to LEDs or CFLs, turning off office appliances at night, and posting a “please conserve water” sign by faucets will all help shrink your carbon footprint.
d) Encourage carpooling, walking, or bicycling. This can be done by helping your community members use a carpool sign-up sheetor installing bicycle racks.
2) Check these energy efficiency ideas. How many of these ideas are you (at home) and your Catholic facility implementing? Are any of them things that could be implemented in your faith community or your home?
a) Home energy efficiency ideas
b) Energy Star for Congregations
1) Promote some of the ideas in these two resources throughout your community, either in the Sunday bulletin or in other parish/school communications:
a) 10 Ways You Can Make a Difference
b) 10 Ways Your Parish Can Make a Difference
2) Considering a major lighting retrofit or going solar. Check Catholic Energies and see if they can assist your Catholic facility.
3) Look into participating in Interfaith Power and Light’s Cool Congregations program. You get toolkits and step-by-step guidance on how to be more energy efficient.
4) World Food Day: October 16 is World Food Day, a special day observed by the United Nations. The day is intended to bring public attention to the issue of world hunger and food security. Almost one billion people receive less than the daily recommended allotment of 2,100 calories per day. Conflict and climate change are big contributors to hunger and malnutrition.
What can you do? Catholic Relief Services has seven ideas of how to be better stewards of the earth’s harvest: waste less, eat simply, support farmers, advocate, donate, learn more, and pray.