ClimateWise Business Network is excited to be in Year 3 of a partnership with Faith & the Common Good to deliver the energy benchmarking program to the York Region community. I wanted to share our journey to date.
We had prior experience working with businesses and municipalities to help them benchmarking their emissions, set a target and design an action plan. However, we had no prior involvement working with faith groups before venturing into this space in December 2017.
There are over 250 places of worship in York Region. York Region is a diverse community with over 20% of residents practicing a non-Christian faith. Residents here identify with the Jewish, Muslim or Hindu faith more than provincial or national average. It is a wonderful experience to be working simultaneously with 19th century Anglican churches to a mosque that was built just a decade ago
In order to be a truly interfaith initiative, it was important to outreach to mosques, temples, synagogues, along with religious community centres and schools. So many faith communities had already established green teams.
In addition, we noticed that these communities have strong knowledge of sustainability issues and have a keen interest in taking action to reduce their energy consumption. What these groups lacked were external support services. We hoped to fill that gap – and provide them with the tools and support they need to become more sustainable. Our relationship with local utility groups and experience with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking software provided value for our faith-based members.
We are proud that are faith-based members are taking action to become more sustainable. For instance, Jaffari Community Centre eliminated single use plastic waste for their Ramadan events. Holy Trinity Anglican Church retrofitted their building that reduced electricity and natural gas consumption over a period of five years. ClimateWise acknowledged these accomplishments at our annual York Region Sustainability Awards.
We have other groups that are starting their journey into sustainability. St. Mary’s Anglican Church and Vishnu Mandir temple have both set their baseline and are now identifying steps to reduce their electricity consumption. They are now working with Alectra Utilities to find an incentive program that works for them.
Our faith-based members do not complete their work in a bubble. Members of Holy Trinity Anglican Church and Jaffari Community Centre’s green teams have presented their sustainability initiatives at each other’s congregations. It was great to see members of Vishnu Mandir attend a Saturday afternoon climate change event at St. Mary’s Anglican Church.
Besides “doing the right thing”, there are financial benefits to benchmarking and reducing emissions. A study by the US Environmental Protection Agency demonstrates that just benchmarking your building could result in energy savings of 2.4% a year, with a cumulative total of 7%. This would yield an annual savings of $240 to $700 on a $10 000 electricity and natural gas bill. Remember – this is before doing any retrofits!
ClimateWise is excited to see what our faith-based members will accomplish in 2020. If you are a part of a York Region faith group, please reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org!