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A Great Team Making Great Decisions - Ralph Connor Memorial United Church

Nestled in a beautiful village at the feet of the Canadian Rockies, Ralph Connor Memorial United Church (RCMUC) in Canmore, Alberta has a 130 year old sanctuary and a 40 year old hall. 

RCMUC’s Faithful Footprints story is one of how congregants’ connections and working together as a team led to incredible energy savings and conservation within their church building.

Solar panels

Rooftop Solar Installation, RCMUC

Wanting to tackle climate change and save energy at the same time, the very first step in the church’s greening process was to engage members whose skills and knowledge could be put to use. As with many congregations, RCMUC has a large portion of retired members, among which included engineers, a public building architect, and a high school shop instructor. 

Their initial plan and focus was to partner with Bow Valley Green Energy Cooperative (BVEC) to install 30 solar panels on their roof. Becoming the first public partner for BVEC in September, 2021, the solar partnership produced 1,590 kWh in the first 90 days, with the planned goal of offsetting 80% of their electrical needs.

However, their efforts did not stop there. In discussions with Faithful Footprints’ Building Grants Manager, Stephen Collette, RCMUC learned that although solar is great, it is important for the church to be lowering energy usage and improving efficiencies as well. Both had been on the team’s mind, and when presented with the DIY Energy Audit Guidebook the team found some low hanging fruit that made sense to them to include in their efforts. This included LED lighting, Energy Star kitchen appliances, and solar powered outdoor lights.

To improve the efficiency of the building they learned that their narthex had two supply vents and no return, resulting in no air circulation, causing the area to be cold. So they decided to remove a supply and add a return to improve comfort. While doing so, they discovered that the ductwork in the crawlspace wasn’t insulated, so they fixed that as well. With the addition of a heat recovery ventilator, cold winter air is pre-heated by outgoing airflow, which improves the efficiency of their furnace.

Ducting under sanctuary

In addition to being the poster child for future partnerships with BVEC–thanks to its highly visible location in downtown Canmore–RCMUC‘s carbon reduction and energy saving projects have also provided many other benefits. The newly installed LED lights are much better for reading by reducing strain on eyes. The air quality has improved with sealed and insulated ductwork, noticeable during the fires this year in the region, and comfort for all using the building. 

Greg Wooley, Minister of RCMUC & Jeff Roberts, Chair of BVEC Solar-powered outdoor light

With various volunteers coming together, sharing their knowledge and skills, and working together, RCMUC is a great story of how your own congregation can similarly leverage these existing elements and help do your part to save energy, some money and the planet all at the same time.

Like RCMUC, the more you can learn about your building, the more you can save energy, minimize maintenance costs, and maximize the usage of your amazing faith community building. 

Learn more about your building by  utilizing our professional knowledge with virtual Green Audits that look at energy, air quality, food, water, waste, maintenance, rental agreements, heritage and much more. 

Heat recovery ventilation system  New fridge and freezer


Faithful Footprints Program

The United Church of Canada (UCC) Faithful Footprints program offers grants, tools and inspiration to help its congregations reduce their carbon footprint. With UCC’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions 80% by 2050, this one of a kind program offers up to $30,000 in grants towards energy conservation and renewable energy projects (conditions apply).

Faith & the Common Good is the delivery partner for UCCs Faithful Footprints program.  To date, we have engaged over 200 UCC congregations, camps, and buildings across the country. Your participation in the program puts your faith into action and helps UCC reach its target. 

Stephen Collette is the Building Manager for Faith & the Common Good and can be reached at 705-930-1011 EDT, [email protected] 

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