Christ Our Hope Catholic Church in Lithonia is one of 11 members the Catholic Pilot Project. This project, whose full name is the “Laudato Si’ Action Plan Pilot Project,” came to life when the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta decided to run a pilot project to support this group of parishes and schools in making environmental improvements. “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home” is Pope Francis’ encyclical about caring for the earth and each other.
The long-term goal of the Pilot Project is to reduce each parish or school’s carbon footprint and increase energy and water efficiency and conservation. For each location, the near-term goal was to conduct a Power Wise energy audit and water conservation assessment, and to create improvement plan. The ultimate goal is to reduce their negative impact on Creation.
In 2017, in partnership with the Southface Energy Institute and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Georgia Chapter, GIPL provided energy and water audits for 11 facilities. GIPL then helped each location review the audit reports and develop energy efficiency and water conservation improvement plans for 2018 – 2020.
Christ Our Hope Catholic Church completed a Power Wise energy audit in April, 2017. The report recommended three Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) for WiFi thermostats, LED lighting upgrades and attic insulation. If Christ Our Hope does implement all three ECMs, annual energy savings for the 15,061-square foot facility could reach $5,229.
During this grant cycle, the church applied for their first GIPL grant. They requested $5,250 (50% of the $10,500 full cost) to install 13 WiFi thermostats (ECM 1) and upgrade 108 T-8 fluorescent bulbs in the church sanctuary and the hall to 18 watt LED bulbs (ECM 2). The GIPL grants committee viewed the project favorably at their December 7, 2017 meeting and awarded the church their full request. Susan Varlamoff, GIPL board member and a UGA co-author of the Laudato Si Action Plan, presented the award check to the church congregation on February 18, 2018.
The church has established a creation care team in 2018 to begin the development of their stewardship program for their congregation. They have already begun to implement their energy and water conservation measures. Additionally, the team has proposed a green sermon each month and educational programs for their youth on creation care. They have stated, “Our team will speak directly to Laudato Si and bring up the connection to God, earth and church.”
Christ Our Hope is eligible to apply for a GIPL matching grant next year, if desired, to install insulation in the sanctuary and hall (ECM 3). This would complete their recommended ECMs. In 2018, help your congregation save money through energy efficiency. The first step is to obtain a low-cost energy audit through GIPL’s Power Wise Program. A professional engineer with over 25 years energy management experience will conduct the audit and prepare the audit report which will serve as your roadmap to energy efficiency. Recommendations in the audit are eligible for up to $10,000 in matching grants. The deadline for grant applications is November 15, 2018. Make this the year to help care for creation at your church or school!