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Church of South India's eco-audit list

Church of South India's eco-audit list

"Do an energy audit to identify areas of inefficiency, and other problems that waste energy..."

A congregation's first step toward eco-facilities management is to develop a long-range, comprehensive plan. The following steps are suggested by the Church of South India, which has been a leader, in Kerala, in promoting environmental consciousness:

Making a Long-Range Plan

1) Designate a person and select a committed group of lay people or teachers to form an Eco- Management committee. The committee becomes responsible for guiding the development of the management plan, for instituting and monitoring practices, and for being alert over time to better and improved approaches, means, and technologies of eco-management.

2) Lay the Scriptural and theological basis for congregational actions. This can provide an exciting study with the entire church and School, though the Eco-Management Committee may want to lead it.

3) Get an overview of what is possible, what assistance is available, and the items to be considered.

4) Do an energy audit to identify areas of inefficiency, and other problems that waste energy, generate it poorly, and waste money. Cost analyses help with understanding what types of usage drive system costs and, therefore, where savings can be initiated.

5) Be prepared for higher up-front costs as the details of eco-efficient management emerge. Switching over to efficient equipment and methodologies is an integral part of ecological, integrated resource management.

6) Develop an all-inclusive framework of the entire property. A landscape architect can assist the congregation or school in doing this. Look inclusively at the "facility" as the management integration of both buildings and grounds.

7) Create an education plan to inform, teach, and train all users of the buildings and grounds of the church and School in eco-management. Such a plan can call for special events and training sessions as well as integrate the concerns into the regular curriculum. Education is critical to the success of any conservation program.

8) Constant Evaluation and assessment.

Specific Areas of Resource Management

1)Grounds , Landscaping , Composting

a. Designing A Garden
Create a church/School garden with birdbaths, bird feeders, trees, vegetation, ponds, fountains, and small waterfalls. Include images and symbols of the Christian faith in strategic spots to remind people of the centrality of the faith in our eco-stewardship. If they include water features, recycle the water. Consider xeriscaping wherever possible to conserve water. (An efficient approach to landscaping, xeriscaping minimizes water usage by planning and designing, limited turf/lawn areas, ecologically aware irrigation, soil improvement, mulching, using low-water-demand plants, proper maintenance, and careful monitoring.)

b. Composting.
Compost leaves, grass clippings, trimmings and food wastes. Choose from a number of possible composting bins or even experiment with several different approaches, as a way of educating the congregation/students and deciding which is best for the church/school. Use the compost in the garden areas of the grounds. Mulching in planting beds lessens evaporation, retains moisture, and reduces weed growth.

c. Watering
Monitor the sprinkling system carefully. Limit areas demanding large amounts of water on a regular basis, and conserve water wherever possible. Water early in the morning or late in the evening. Doing this, when temperatures are cooler, minimizes evaporation and allows for deeper penetration of the water. Investigate using drip irrigation throughout garden.Use gray water for non-potable uses such as plants and explore possibilities of black water utilization. This includes water from fish tanks. Besides saving water, it's a good fertilizer. Harvest rainwater through the creation of a cistern, swales, berms, and basins. Assess the topography of the property for the proper design of harvesting structures. Cisterns may be placed anywhere, including the roof.

d. Controlling Pests, Planting Trees, & Creating Special Gardens.

* Explore ways to have natural pest control, both inside and outside.
*Plant a tree or a small garden area to commemorate special occasions such as a birth, a baptism, a new member, a milestone anniversary or event, or a memorial for a person or event. This could be designated a prayer garden.
*Use live Christmas trees for the church's celebration of the birth of Christ. Plant these afterwards on the church/School grounds.
*Start a community vegetable, herb, and/or flower garden if enough space is available on the church/School property. If not, consider doing this elsewhere in the community.

Energy Conservation

a) Study the ventilation flow and, if necessary, redirect it, especially in relation to the roof/attic lines. Plant deciduous trees outside windows to shade them from direct rays of summer sunlight (especially in the afternoon). Use alternative forms of energy wherever possible, including solar, both passive and active forms. Consider installing solar voltaic panels to generate electricity. Place solar-absorbing panels on the roof(s) for hot water and reduction of heat build-up within the building.

b. Appliances:Replace old appliances with the most energy efficient ones. Be sure they include an energy saver switch or its equivalent.

c. Lighting: Turn lights off when the space is not in use and consider using automatic motion-sensitive switches, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.Convert lighting fixtures, including lamps, to fluorescent (CFL)

d. Water Conservation: Train all Church/School members on conservation principles. Do an audit on all water piping, values (including taps/faucets), junctions, and receptacles. Do the same for all wastewater conduits. Check for both seepage and leaks. Determine where water is used. Before implementing any kind of conservation program, know where water is being used and how much water is being used for each location and type of usage. Install low-flow devices. Use toilet tank displacement devices or install vacuum flush toilets. If the church already has these types of toilets, make sure they are adjusted to use the minimum amount of water required per flush. All showering facilities should be equipped with low-flow showerheads. Showerheads with on-off valves provide the opportunity to conserve more water than those without valves.

e. Toilets: Explore installing composting toilets that use little or no water. The composting process uses heat and fresh air technology to turn human waste into a light, dry, odorless humus.

Office Management - Program Development - Kitchen-Dining Operation

Environmental ethics calls for the treatment of natural resources not merely as commodities and tools but as parts of the ecological whole, regardless of whether they are found in their natural state or in the form of a product to be used. The Church/School, in operating an office or managing the kitchen and fellowship hall or developing and directing program, is called to do this with as little negative environmental impact as possible. Such an approach only begins with water and energy conservation and the integration of buildings and grounds for eco-management. Many other key areas should also be considered.

Most environmental decisions are complicated. Many factors need to be considered. For instance, in the debate over whether to use plastic or paper products, one could argue that paper consumes trees, reduces forest biodiversity, produces pollutants during the manufacturing process, and supports economically companies that have policies that are not environmentally sound.

Plastic, such as styrofoam, though, consumes petroleum, increases the risk of oil spills, further locks the world into dependency upon oil, creates pollution in its manufacturing process, and supports economically companies that have policies that are not environmentally sound. Washable and reusable products also are manufactured, consume energy and water in the recurring washing and sterilization process, and take up more time for those cleaning up after an event.

Both paper and plastic increase solid waste while reusable products eliminate solid waste.

Waste Management

Have as a hallmark of operation the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."

a. Analyze all operations to see which items can be either eliminated or reduced. If the item itself cannot be done away with, see what other things associated with the product can be reduced, particularly in packaging and other waste by-products associated with the item in question. Develop a system for reusing paper products, particularly office paper or education posters.

Study the full life cycle of products and the effect on the environment at each stage of that life cycle before making a decision concerning which product is better or which material is preferable. Buy products that are not only recycled but also recyclable. Produce an educational program for recycling to train all users of the facilities.

"Plant a tree or a small garden area to commemorate special occasions"
Have the children and youth design posters, write essays, produce a drama, and make other presentations to the adults about recycling. Study the economics, environmental considerations, and long-range consequences of recycling for developing a sustainable society.

b. Space Utilization Hold meetings in rooms that require the least amount of energy to heat or cool and to light.

c. Add a "teleworking" component to the workweek. Also known as "telecommuting," this encourages staff to work at home when their on-site presence is not needed. It eliminates commuting time and expense, reduces energy use, optimizes space utilization, and, overall, promotes greater efficiencies.

Education Programs

A variety of educational and promotional programs need to be created as a part of launching the new approach to facility management. The consciousness of the staff, membership, and other users needs to be raised significantly and in sync with each other. The educational phase also needs to be an ongoing process, written into each age-level of education (including adults). Reminders should be highly visible throughout the buildings and grounds. Every decision must have built into it an environmental consciousness which is not merely one more component, but instead, runs throughout the whole, as does any other portion of our basic commitment and covenant with God.

a. Celebrate an Environmental Festival with all age groups participating. Make it an annual event.

b. Conduct a tour of the facility to familiarize people with the new procedures

c. Include environmentally related symbolism in the trappings of the sanctuary and along the walls in the hallways

d. Have a bulletin board dedicated to environmental issues.

e. Bring people together in an annual Eco-Stewardship conference with invited experts. In long-range planning, stagger the Eco-Stewardship conference about six months apart from the Environmental Festival.

f. Place signage throughout both the building and the grounds as a tool for instruction, gentle reinforcement, and awareness

g. Publicize what is happening: in your regular church/School newsletter and bulletin; in a periodic "Eco-Times" church/School publication; in the local newspaper, radio, and television; and in your denominational news outlets. Make it a key element within your church's website. Talk it up in the community as a point of significant expression of faith.

h. Form special study groups or task forces around specific environmental issues, Bible study, or theological concerns

Organize a Rummage Sale of items from everywhere possible that can be reused in one form or another.


Link hereto learn more about ARC's partnership with the Church of South India, from April 2008.

Link here for the CSI statement about the environment in full.

Link here for more information about the Madhya Kerala diocese.

Link here for more information about the diocese's ecological work.

Link here for general background to the Church of South India - which is the result of the union of churches of varying traditions: Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed and which was inaugurated in September 1947.

Link here for the original Christian statement on the environment launched at Assisi in 1986.

Link here for a Catholic theological statement about the environment.

Link here for an Orthodox statement about the environment.

Link here to learn more about ARC's work with the faiths developing seven year plans to make generational changes on the issues of climate change and the natural environment.

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