“Green Faith” Congregation
About 8 years ago parishioners at St. David's Episcopal Church in downtown Austin were asked by their rector, David Boyd (still serving), to start an environmental guild. Their membership took that charge and began to get to work by engaging in various ad hoc initiatives instating small efforts around the facility. Popular, early changes at St. David’s included things such as offering eye glass, battery, cell phone, and toner cartridge recycling and reusable coffee mugs to replace Styrofoam cups. Those efforts proved motivational across the church community and the St. David’s Environmental Guild grew, not in small part because of David Boyd’s emphasis on integrating environmental efforts with activities led by clergy, youth, and the whole of the congregation.
Recently Rosera Tatiosian, chairwoman of The St. David's Environmental Guild, discovered the GreenFaith.org’s “Houses of Worship Certification Program.” The Guild agreed it was worthy project, as did the vestry, and one good turn led to another. Today St. David’s is Austin, Texas’s first Green Faith certified congregation.
According to leaders from the Guild, the Green Faith certification process is about more than just making changes at a religious community’s facility, the program includes a strong worship component and stipulates a two year timeline in which to achieve certification, followed immediately by a two year period for additional positive growth.
Learn More 2/5/13
On Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, Rosera Tatiosian, Catherine Lee Doar, LEED A.P., and Marc Coudert, Environmental Program Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, City of Austin will give a 90 minute presentation on St. David’s experience and the City of Austin’s incentives for participation in the Austin Green Business Leaders Program. Ms. Tatiosian will present information about St. David's experience with the GreenFaith program, including energy audit, spreadsheet tools, and changes in recycling and water use, as well as the Guild’s choice to have both onsite and in-home meetings creation care meetings for congregants and the larger Austin community. Ms. Doar, LEED A.P., and Environmental Guild member, will talk about current operations at St. David's and the Guild’s partnership with The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability’s Austin Green Business Leaders Program. Marc Coudert will give a short presentation on the City's efforts to promote green practices in business.
Could your faith community get involved?
Yes; and not just your faith community. The City of Austin invites all local businesses to participate in their Austin Green Business Leaders program, no matter how green a business's products or services are, or how big or small that business (or faith community) is. The Green Business Leaders program helps participants green their energy, water, waste, transportation, and indoor environmental health (toxicity) efforts, as well facilitate internal staff education and external promotion of your business’s success to the greater Austin community.
What Does It Mean to be Green Faith Certified?
St. David’s Environmental Guild members feel not only a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, thanks to their cross community efforts to become certified, they see reward in ways church life has changed. Lee Doar,
"We see things we started now becoming a regular part of the worship experience at St. David's. For instance, we'll never stop having services in our outdoor labyrinth; we'll never stop looking for ways to be a regenerative congregation.”
What’s more St. David’s green future is bright and long. Lee continues,
"We have an agenda for the next year and half or so of what we want to implement. Everything from small things like installing 0.5gpm faucet aerators (at St. David's four story, 90,000 square foot facility) to more efficiently using office paper and shutting off computers appropriately; up to big things like putting solar panels on the roof of our parking garage. We're also going to try and deal with the transportation issue both for our staff and our parishioners."
St. David’s participation in the Green Faith certification process has changed not only their facility, it’s changed their faith community’s culture in some very inspired, intelligent and, hopefully, “sustainable” ways.
Learn more about Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin here.
Learn more about St. David’s Environmental Guild here.
Learn more about GreenFaith.org here.
This article written by Chris Searles and edited by Catherine Lee Doar for the Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin (IEN).