By the end of May, The Diocese of Southern Ohio will have all of their buildings powered by 100% renewable energy. These buildings include Procter Center, Diocesan House, Gabriel’s Place, and the Latino Ministry Center in Forest Park. The diocese will be saving over $1,400 annually along with reducing their carbon footprint. To read more about the Diocese of Southern Ohio and their work, click here. To read about how to do something similar to this, click here.
The Diocese of Southern Ohio posted a plan to help congregations and households with their energy bill. It was titled, An Energy Plan: Taking Action Today Results in a Better Tomorrow, and gives tips and important questions to ask when discussing your electric and gas bill. It also provides instructions on how to develop an Energy Plan to ultimately save energy and money. To read more on this document, click here.
Dr. Job S. Ebenezer is the president of a nonprofit organization called Technology for the Poor. He is a retired professor of engineering. He started Technology for the Poor to design, innovate and disseminate simple technologies for less income people. He designed a dual purpose bicycle that can enable an ordinary bicycle to power small scale agricultural implements and other mechanical devices. He served as the director of the department of Hunger Education and Environmental Stewardship of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In 1993, he established a roof top garden at the ELCA building using wading pools. He established container gardens in several cites in the US as well as in Africa, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and India. Recently, he is promoting vertical gardening appropriate to slum dwellers and apartment dwellers. He established container gardens at the Ascension Lutheran church, Faith Mission Men’s shelter, Columbus Academy for Humanities, Arts, Technology, and Science and in a soup kitchen in Franklinton. He lives in Westerville and has three children and five grandchildren.
Crown Point is an ecology center in Bath, Ohio. Their mission is to demonstrate the applications of ecology and connect them to spirituality, social justice, and environmental protection. They work to be a role model for food security and sustainable land use through farm stewardship, advocacy, and education. Their goals and mission are achieved by integrating their four core values into everyday life. Their four core values include community, justice, spirituality, and sustainability. To learn more about Crown Point and their programs, click here.
Pictures courtesy of technologyforthepoor.com
Technology For the Poor is a non-profit organization started by Dr. Job Ebenezer. Their mission is to develop, innovate, and disseminate sustainable technologies to the poor all over the world. While Dr. Ebenezer has designed and implemented many different sustainable practices, one of the most notable is his work with urban agriculture and gardens. Using inexpensive containers and suitable soil mix, he has created container gardens in urban areas such as rooftops and unused parking lots in places such as Chicago and Washington D.C. Locally, he has created these gardens at Ascension Lutheran Church, Faith Mission Men’s Shelter, and a soup kitchen in Franklin. To learn more about Technology for the Poor and their work, click here. To read about container gardens and a guide on how to start your own, click here.
Technology for the Poor is a non-profit, charitable organization started by the current president, Dr. Job Ebenezer. Based on the philosophy of George Washington Carver, their work strives to serve communities by providing them with sustainable technologies. These sustainable technologies include human powered energy systems, urban agriculture, and sustainable building technologies. Specific examples of their work includes a dual-purpose bicycle, wind energy generators, low-cost construction techniques, and container gardening. Dr. Ebenezer’s container gardens have made it much easier for urban buildings, such as churches and community buildings, to have their own gardens. To learn more about urban agriculture, click here. For more information on Technology for the Poor, click here.
Peace Lutheran Church in Bowling Green has installed solar panels on the south side of the building that are expected to save up to 25% of their utility bill. The solar panels are one of three projects that are a part of the churches mission of Creating Christ Connected Community. The other two projects include helping a Syrian Refugee family and building a new playground. To read more about their mission and current projects, click here.
GreenSpot was founded in 2008 by former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman as a place where people of the city can go to learn how to live, work, and commit to being green. Becoming certified as A GreenSpot is open to anyone from households, to businesses, to community groups. There are a list of commitments that must be made depending on the type of organization, but once they are met the application process can begin.
Recently, on January 30th, Columbus St.Mary School became a GreenSpot. The conversation first started in October of 2016 with Rebecca Mellino and the GreenSpot program. Between October of 2016 and January of 2017, members of GreenSpot, and Jerry Freewalt, head of the Catholic Creation Care team, came and spoke to the students about the program. Once the students became engaged and excited about the program, the school has had no difficulties keeping up with the responsibilities.
The students recycle and compost after breakfast and lunch. They rotate during recess and walk through the halls collecting the recyclables into bigger recycling bins. It is more than just the students that have gotten involved though. Teachers were given information on how to teach the different grade levels on how being green related to each of the students. Additionally, the staff members take turns delivering the recycled materials from the school to a drop off at Kroger about four times a week. Parents play an essential role as well, as they pitched in to buy small recycling bins for the classrooms and bigger bins for the cafeteria. The school also has plans to start a garden next to their building. Once it is built, they will have Boy Scouts, 4-H groups, and Night to Columbus to help care and maintain for the garden.
Christina Hickey is an art teacher at the school who is also in charge of marketing. She spearheaded the GreenSpot program and got staff members and students involved. The school’s student council is comprised of 4th through 8th graders that meet once or twice a month to talk and help out with recycling. Stepheny and Stephen are 6th grade student council members at St.Mary school who both recycle and compost at home. When interviewed, they both stated that they’re excited about the garden that is going to planted next to their school. Rose, a 4th grade student council member, was asked what it means to care for God’s creation and responded by saying “It’s really important. He made this for us. I don’t think we should trash it. I think we should cherish it.” Along with making the school a greener place, this program has made lasting impacts on students as well. Eayual, an 8th grade student council member that helps out every day stated that everyone should “think of the Earth as your life, take care of our life and don’t slowly destroy it.” He plans on attending Bishop Hartley high school where he aims to get students involved in recycling and caring for the Earth there as well.
To learn more about GreenSpot and their goals and purposes, click here. Additionally, Christina Hickey who lead the GreenSpot initiative at St.Mary School can be reached at email@example.com for information on how to implement this program. To keep updated on St.Mary School and GreenSpot, follow their Twitter accounts at @stmaryschoolgv and @greenspotcbus.
Since the release of Laudato si’, many Catholic churches have made caring for creation a priority. About a year ago, the Catholic Diocese of Columbus started The Creation Care Team to help in their task of caring for creation. Their main role is to promote the church’s teachings on care for creation and in particular how it was articulated in Laudato si’. They assemble groups of people with specific initiatives who work on spreading awareness, educating, and developing practical ways for Catholics to live. While their work has impacts that spread far and wide, one distinct person who has made a difference is Bruce Boylan, the Director of Facilities for the Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
Around a year ago, Bruce and his team started looking for ways to help Catholic schools in the area reduce their energy costs. They came upon the idea of LED lights and obtained a few samples that were first tried in the cafeteria of St. Mary’s church. An example of the difference between a normal fluorescent bulb and an LED bulb can be seen below. They found that there was a significant improvement in lighting and cost, but the payback time took about nine months. The problem was in that nine months; if a parish or school did not have the money to invest right away, then nine months was too long to wait for saving money. Along with the payback time being delayed, the price of the LED bulbs were about sixteen dollars apiece and they were difficult to install. All these problems were holding them back, until they found a local realtor.
Late last year, they found a local realtor who was selling LED bulbs for six dollars apiece and they were much easier to install. With this new price, the payback time was reduced from nine months to only three and a half months. With this lower price and easier installation, these bulbs caused a 73% reduction in an energy bill for lights after just three and a half months. The math done to calculate these figures can be seen below. Now, the idea of LED lights became much more plausible for everyone.
Bruce placed his first order for 500 LED bulbs to replace the lights in the Catholic Diocese building in Columbus. The cost was 3,000 dollars and they have an expected rebate of 1,500 dollars. Even without the rebate, within three and a half months they will be saving enough money to make the purchase worth it. After the increase of confidence in these bulbs, they started to spread the word to buildings across the area. Schools have the highest interest because they have the most to gain. They have an immense need for lighting and have their lighting in use more often compared to parishes and other buildings. A school in the area has recently placed an order for 100 LED bulbs to sample. They found them to be well worth it and have since placed an order for 400 more bulbs. The success of these LED bulbs is astronomical and with the continued work of Bruce and The Creation Care Team, it will only continue to grow.
GreenFaith is one of the oldest religious-environmental organizations in the United States. They were originally named Partners for Environmental Quality and were founded by Jewish and Christian leaders in New Jersey. They believed communities needed an organization to connect religious traditions with the environment. Their early work included promoting the use of renewable energy in religious institutions, convening a conference that drew leaders from religious, academic, governmental, and business sectors to talk about environmental protection, and encouraging the use of green energy to the general public. In the early 2000s, they had their first Environmental Health and Justice Tour in Newark where they explored the different proportions of suffering to urban communities. It was then that they changed their name to GreenFaith.
Since then, GreenFaith has launched programs all over the state of New Jersey and beyond. Lighting the Way is one of their programs that installed solar panels on religious institutions around the state. Between 2004 and 2006, they organized Sustainable Sanctuaries and Green Flag, GreenFaith Schools Pilot Program. Both took initiative to integrate environmental care into the worship of religious communities and faith-based schools to help “green” their establishments. Since then, the have been honored at Windsor Castle, featured in documentaries including Renewal, and recognized with the Energy Star for Congregations Special Award from the EPA.
In order to accomplish these impressive goals, GreenFaith has stayed committed to their beliefs that protecting the earth is a religious value and environmental stewardship as a moral responsibility. Additionally, their three core values, spirit, stewardship, and justice, are what they use to guide their work and define their goals. Spirit is their belief that religious traditions are sacred and that people grow spiritually through a strong relationship with the Earth. Stewardship is their belief that religious members have the opportunity to lessen their impact on the environment. Justice is their belief that all people deserve a healthy environment regardless of their race or income. To read more and explore their efforts, click here.