Out of a sample of 20 congregations that completed the two-year Greenfaith certification program, the average savings were:
34 percent: Reduction in energy use.
16.8 percent: Reduction in gas and oil use.
15 percent: Reduction in solid waste.
$14,283: Financial savings.
WASHINGTON — It started a little more than a year ago, with an innocuous question during coffee hour after a Sunday service at Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, Md. The Rev. Andrew Walter remembers someone asking why the congregants were using paper plates and cups at their weekly gathering. Wasn’t there a greener alternative?
The small matter was resolved quickly, Walter said, “and then people kept asking, ‘What else can we do?’ “
During the next 15 months — as the church installed LED lights in the fellowship hall, low-flow toilets in the restrooms and a new energy-and-money-saving HVAC system — Grace Episcopal Church joined the faith communities across the nation that are increasingly embracing environmental activism.
Faced with an ever-growing array of faith-driven environmental programs at the national, local and denominational levels, Grace Episcopal Church became the third congregation in the Washington area to enroll in a two-year certification program through Greenfaith, an interfaith environmental organization based in Highland Park, N.J. The ambitious program felt like the right fit, Walter said, because it involved all aspects of the community’s life — everything from “greening” the building to changing the way the parishioners navigate their daily lives.