We are Villa St. Joseph Ecology & Spirituality Centre in Cobourg, Ontario.
For us, it is important that both practical and spiritual aspects of ecology be integrated and run sustainably not only within our programming and ministry but, as well, throughout our buildings and land.
About twenty years ago, we had an audit done, and it was time for another. In November of 2020, we became aware of Faith & Common Good’s Green Audit Program. This program typically assesses seven key areas: Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Kitchen & Washrooms, Air Quality, Renovations & Construction, and Activities.
We booked our Green Audit, then spent a day following the Auditor, Stephen Collette around our premises. Stephen had the tools to measure and wisdom to advise us and we learned a lot. The Green Audit included just about everything--from heat loss and air quality, what we use for our heating source and water supply at the Centre, the age of our appliances - and whether they are Energy Star or not - to the more basic, such as whether we use petroleum-based candles (most of the kinds available in stores fit this category) and the types of cleaning products we use. Happily, we had already switched to beeswax and battery-powered candles and only use biodegradable cleaning products.
Next, we drilled down into the nitty-gritty of water use - and we had such a good chat about toilets! At the time of the previous audit, years ago, most of our toilets were 13 l/f and some 18 l/f. The advice then was to put one to two bricks in the tank. This had varied results in terms of how well it went down, as you might imagine! We only have two toilets with 6 l/f at this point, most are 4.8 l/f. Stephen did suggest that to identify the toilets with the highest use we might ask people how many flushes they ranked up in a day. We deferred to that idea.
Standards change over time and Green Standards have tightened up considerably. Whereas two decades ago, our attic insulation was deemed acceptable, now we were given suggestions on how to improve this. As well, hot water pipes & water heaters were checked.
Since then, we have purchased insulating “blankies” for the four hot water tanks, insulated the hot water pipes and plumped up the insulation batts in the attic. We feel warmer already! And we will be watching our energy costs. In the end, going green gives us sustainability both in our living premises and our wallets.
Sr. Linda Gregg, CSJ