Twenty-seven Parishes and Counting …

 on June 9, 2023

Twenty-seven, that’s the number of parishes in the Diocese of Niagara which have committed to completing the self-guided energy audit—so far. The original 14 parishes are now collecting their utility bills for 2023 and starting to create a five-year plan to help them lower their Greenhouse Gas emissions by ten per cent.

The 13 new parishes that started working on the audit this past winter have been helped by a member of the Climate Justice Niagara committee with a laser room measuring gadget that makes assessing the square footage much easier. Christ’s Church Cathedral is one of these new participating parishes and, surely, no other building can be more challenging!

Some parishes had presentations at vestry meetings and congregations were able to understand the value of establishing a benchmark to be able to measure future reductions in gas and electricity. If reducing the parish carbon footprint isn’t sufficient to inspire participation, then the rising cost of gas this past year might be the deciding factor! After checking some of the parish 2022 utility bills I discovered that costs had risen by hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The war in Ukraine is certainly one cause, but with the carbon tax increasing over the next few years, this trend will continue.

Measuring and starting on the energy audit can be done at any time of year. The only thing that is easier in winter is feeling for draughts around doors and windows. If things are quieter around your parish, this summer would be a good time to get started on a parish energy audit. Our two measurers have quieter calendars and driving is less hazardous without snow.

I am excited to think that every step in improving our carbon footprint demonstrates that the people of the Diocese of Niagara, and of every parish that completes an energy audit, are committed to sustaining and renewing the life of the earth.

So how does an energy audit work, you might wonder?

The most important thing that a parish needs for an energy audit is to have one or two people who are willing to be the parish contact. It does help if they are comfortable with completing fillable forms online, but assistance is available so don’t let this be the stumbling block.

The parish contact will be sent a self-guided questionnaire to complete. Some of the questions, such as, “How many windows are in each room? What type of stove do you have?” can be easily answered. Other questions, such as “what is the age of the furnace? What is the percentage of LED lights?” may require a little background searching. Nothing should be too difficult to complete and, if in doubt, leave it out, as new information can always be added later. Typically, the building walk-through should take about two hours, but it can be done in stages.

The second part of the audit involves keeping a record of the gas and electrical energy used each month. Most parishes find that the person who sees the monthly bills is the best one to record this data–so perhaps the treasurer, office administrator, or warden.

It takes time to analyze the data collected, but over the coming years, churches will be given graphs to show their usage, and suggestions will be made on creating plans for a better carbon footprint.

Climate Justice Niagara hopes that more parishes will consider registering for an energy audit this year. If you have questions, please contact me at [email protected] and arrange for a visit to get your parish started. I am eagerly anticipating parish number 28.

  • Sue Carson

    Sue Carson is the chair of Climate Justice Niagara and a member of St. James, Dundas.

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