St. Matthew Catholic Church in Tyrone 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 to review the audit reports and develop energy efficiency and water conservation improvement plans for 2018 – 2020.
St. Matthew Catholic Church completed a Power Wise energy audit in March 2017. The report recommended three Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs): ECM 1 – blown-in attic insulation for the administration building, (ECM 2) – replace T-8 fluorescent bulbs with LED lamps and (ECM 3) – install WiFi thermostats. If St. Matthew’s does implement all three ECMs, annual energy savings for the 19,083-square foot facility could reach $4,827.
During this grant cycle, the church applied for their first GIPL grant. They requested $4,974 (50% of the $9,948 full cost) to upgrade 168 T-8 fluorescent lamps with 18 watt LED bulbs (ECM 2) and install 5 WiFi thermostats (ECM 3). The GIPL grants committee viewed the project favorably at their December 7, 2017 meeting and awarded the church their full request. Codi Norred, GIPL’s staff associate for policy and programs, presented the award check to the church leadership on March 22, 2018.
The church has established a creation care team in 2017. They have already begun to implement their energy and water conservation measures and will continue to do so in 2018. They have an in-house recycling program and a 3-acre community garden to provide fresh vegetables to parishioners and the community. They are inspired by the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si, and will share its lessons with the congregation through the church sermons.
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 of each year. Make this the year to help care for creation at your church or school!