St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Catholic School in Rome are two of 11 members of 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 to review the audit reports and develop energy efficiency and water conservation improvement plans for 2018 – 2020.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Catholic School in Rome completed a Power Wise energy audit on June 1, 2017. The church audit report recommended upgrading 212 T-8 fluorescent lights to 18 watt LED lamps with an estimated 44 percent energy savings. This equates to annual savings of $890 each year.
The school audit report recommended upgrading 1,010 T-8 fluorescents to 2 bulb (instead of 3) 18 watt LED lights throughout the school. In addition, it was recommended that 15-400 watt metal halide gym lights be upgraded to LED reducing energy consumption by 59 percent. Annual energy savings at the school for both projects are estimated at an amazing $6,296 annually.
The GIPL grants committee viewed both projects favorably at their December 7, 2017 meeting and awarded the church $3,000 and the school $4,180. Brian Savoie, GIPL’s project manager for the Pilot Project, presented the award checks to the church and school at the church’s February 11, 2018 mass.
The church has established a creation care team headed by the Keep Rome Beautiful director, and they have established several programs on recycling and education. The school’s creation care program at the moment is limited to recycling. In 2018, they will expand the development of their stewardship programs for the school and congregation. They have already begun to implement their energy and water conservation measures, and will continue to do so in 2018.
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!