During Synod 2021, 98 per cent of participants voted in favour of a motion to reduce parish greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent in five years. Since then, Climate Justice Niagara has supported 14 parishes in completing walk-through energy audits and some analysis of their carbon footprint to create their five-year plans.
Data suggests that the first 14 churches to take part are collectively creating about 200 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. This indicates a huge amount of pollution coming from our churches and hence the urgent need to de-carbonise the way we gather and do ministry. The benefit of collecting data by a walk-through on energy audit allows congregations to assess their current situation and start asking healthy questions. For example:
- Why is the current energy bill much higher than last year?
- How many tonnes of greenhouse gas did our parish emit last year?
- What are the most carbon-intensive units in use—gas stoves, furnaces? What are the plans to phase them out?
- Is there heat leaving or cold air coming in from windows and doors?
- Are there rooms that occasionally used but are heated or cooled all through the week?
Winter months are an ideal time to conduct an energy audit because it is easier to detect heat loss during cold days. Some easy and effective projects like weather stripping, caulking, and air duct insulation can be done quickly and yield immediate improvement.
Here is an overview of how to conduct a walk-through energy audit:
- Contact Climate Justice Niagara (CJN) to register your parish.
- Parish will receive a unique code, and two forms to be filled out.
- Start collecting utility data, ideally of year 2021 and 2022, and continue for another few years.
- Assemble an energy audit team of two or three people (CJN facilitator/ building committee/ office administrator/ warden), bring a measuring tool, start filling the form as you walk through the building. It may take two to three hours.
- After receiving the completed forms, CJN will start the analysis work. You can expect a few follow-up questions to clarify some of the data you’ve submitted.
- Parish will receive a report and some suggestions. The energy audit team can present the results to parish councils or corporations.
- Parish starts discussing about what retrofits could be started. The goal is to formulate a five-year plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent. Using the energy audit result as a baseline, and by keeping track the utility data, parishes can see the relative and incremental improvement with the changes it made.
Climate Justice Niagara is here to help! We are happy to arrange virtual meeting to answer your questions. For more information, email Sue Carson (St. James, Dundas) at [email protected] or Irene Pang (Grace Church, Waterdown) at [email protected].