“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” --Winston Churchill, 1943
By Dick Williams, LEED AP BD+C, Episcopal
Starting my work career back in the late 1970s, I recall inoperable windows becoming commonplace in many buildings. They were a symbol of the times—outdoor air becoming dirtier by the decade. And, in urban areas, I believe, they reflected fear that emerged from the riots of the late 1960s. Today, with the effects of environmental degradation well documented, comes the question of how we begin a reset through environmental stewardship. What do our existing buildings say about us and how do we build new or renovate?
Environmental stewardship, for me, is a part of my Christian witness. Increasingly I’ve come to realize that it’s my calling to help protect and restore God’s Creation—for all of us. So to be able to live my business life as a sustainable design consultant who assists in the delivery of “healthy” LEED-certified buildings is indeed a blessing.Read more
"The St. Camillus campus footprint is 14 acres and 9 of those acres are impervious. Three years ago St. Camillus began to look at ways that we could cut back on the surge of stormwater and pollutants that flow off of our lands into the rivers and Bay. We knew it was our sacred duty to be good stewards of the land we live off of and this was one way that we could do that."Read more
St. Mary's Catholic Parish in Annapolis, Maryland was recently honored by the City of Annapolis in The Capital newspaper. They retrofitted a parking lot that drained polluted runoff into Spa Creek, and installed energy-efficient lighting systems in church buildings. By reposting the recent newspaper article posted in The Capital, we hope this inspires more congregations to see that anything is possible! Click here to read more about this exciting project. If you would like to speak to St. Mary's congregants about their efforts and learn from their experience, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and she will put you in touch with them. Finally, this article from 2009 summarizes the project for which they were recently honored.Read more
Chizuk Amuno Congregation is a large synagogue in Baltimore County with about 1200 member families, and at least 200 additional unaffiliated school families. We have a large main campus of just over 22 acres, and aging facilities in need of costly repairs. There is no money in the budget for the mitigation of storm water runoff, so it will be imperative for us to seek funds from other sources in order to proceed.
In the summer and fall of 2012 we were one of the congregations participating in the IPC Small Watershed Action Plan program. During the Participatory Research phase we were given a very clear directive - 'achieve the greatest impact with the least amount of expenditure.' The home run would be to divert the runoff from the below grade drainage to cisterns for reuse but such an endeavor would be extremely expensive. Our driveway and parking lots are in need of repair, but the investment is more than we want to tackle at this time. Our Small Watershed Action Plan incorporates three bioretention systems plus the planting of trees, and will absorb the runoff from over two acres of impervious surface.
In August we successfully completed a Grant Request to the Chesapeake Bay Trust in the amount of approximately $40,000 which will allow us to proceed with the design of the three bioretention systems. Achieving this goal would not have been possible without the guidance and encouragement from Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Blue Water Baltimore and Baltimore Co. DEPS. In November, the Grant Request results will be available.
We are a religious institution with a Pre-school, a Religious school, a Jewish Day School, and an Adult Education Center. One of our greatest challenges is to reach all of our stakeholders, and garner their participation in the process. Since we anticipate a large educational component to these projects, it is imperative that we receive input for our school professionals. The power point presentation is being utilized in our presentation to various groups in order to share our progress, and to request help as we move forward with this process.
For seventeen years, a core group of parishioners at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, has promoted a wide-ranging eco-ministry initiative. Started by William Dinges, a professor of religion and culture at Catholic University of America, the eco-ministry group has brought individual and collective parish resources to caring for the earth as God’s creation. The effort is animated by recognition of the moral, ethical and spiritual dimensions of our environmental responsibility and by recognition that spiritual resources relevant to environmental concerns are contained with our faith tradition. St. John’s eco-ministry promotes learning about the environment, along with parish policies, programs and operating procedures that reflect a practical expression of care for God’s creation. This is done liturgically, catechetically, and by outreach to other Catholic parishes and to the larger community. Specific initiatives include:
• discussion groups on environmental issues (global warming, factory farming, environmental refugees, etc.)
• parish energy audit
• tree- planting initiatives with parish elementary school students
• composting demonstrations
• nature hikes and tours of championship trees in Montgomery county
• a “Blessing of the Animals” liturgy in conjunction with the feast of St. Francis
• tour of the Dickerson power plant in conjunction with an environmental study/prayer group
In addition to the above activities, St. John the Baptist eco-ministry is also an “Adopt-a-Highway” participant. Our group cleans a mile-and-one-half of New Hampshire Blvd. every three months.
ZERO TRASH—heading for the landfill, that is. This is a goal being pursued by Maryland Presbyterian Church in Towson, Maryland. After years of conventional recycling efforts, they were distressed that each week large volumes of trash were still being put out for county pickup. An analysis of this revealed that the largest bulk consisted of paper products that were not acceptable for recycling: paper towels from the pre- school, food-contaminated paper plates or food service containers, etc., but these are items that are biodegradable and in theory could be composted. Their own compost bin could not possibly handle the load, so the congregation turned to a commercial composting company for help. Veteran Compost Inc. (“From Combat to Compost”) was happy to make an arrangement to pick up compostable items on a weekly basis to process them in their commercial-scale composting operation along with wilted vegetables and food waste from restaurants and grocery stores. This has resulted in a major reduction in the “trash” that the church puts out each week for collection, and the compostable items are subjected to nature’s recycling process and converted for use as organic soil enrichment. More on Maryland Presbyterian Church’s environmental ministries