As stewards of God's Creation, we are ecologically responsible for the church grounds. Does the building fit harmoniously into its natural environment, or is it a threat to the ecosystem? The exterior design of the church is a testament to the spirituality of your faith community. Does it feel like the Garden of Eden? Remember Adam's role : "The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to till it and keep it." (Gen 2, 15)
Assess the feasibility of these projects at your church and most importantly, make a plan of action so that these projects are spread out over time.
- Plant a tree to commemorate an event like Earth Day or a church anniversary. Note: Your city probably gives out trees for free.
- For your lawn, stop spraying pesticides and using chemical fertilizers. Find out about natural solutions from a botanist or a gardening centre.
- Use either a manual or an electric lawn mower instead of a model with a gas motor.
- Dreaming of a lawn you would never water and never cut ? Turn over your old lawn and plant clover and/or thyme. These cover the soil and don't need maintenance. Ask your garden expert.
- Consider installing a rain barrel. This barrel connects to a gutter and reduces the amount of drinkable water we use for watering outside. Find out more at rainbarrel.ca .
- In winter, to prevent slipping on icy pavement, sprinkle sand or grit on the walkway. Avoid using salt, because it impoverishes the soil and causes problems in the waste water management system (or worse, it adds salt to the natural fresh water of a river).
- A portion of the church property could be reserved for community gardening. A smalle team could rent out the plots and coordinate other services (like an accessible hose). Imagine Thanksgiving at this kind of church!
- Again, a portion of the church property could be reserved for collective gardening. This garden is not divided into individual plots. It is grown collectively and the harvest is shared, cometimes through a Soup Kitchen. Low income families can really benefit from this type of garden. Hurray for ecojustice!
Building (roof and walls)
- When painting the walls or a fence, think of buying recycled paint or consider a No-VOC paint (volatile organic compounds).
- If the roof doesn't have a inclination greater than 40°, you could install a green roof. You will reduce your heating and cooling bills because of better insulation. Plus, your roof will last much longer because the harmful sunrays will be absorbed by the plants. Ask for information : Urban Ecology Centre.
- Plant vines (like five-leaved ivy) along the south side of the building. This will reduce unconfortable heat in the church in summer and add a stylish look. You will really look like a green church!
- To exterminate parasites, use certified natural products that are approved by the Ministry of the Environment of your province.
- Turn off the steeple's lighting after midnight, as lighting during the whole night is useless (the church is closed!). You can install a programmable timer.
- Install a programmable timer for all exterior lighting around the building.
- The new LED's are quite powerful and they need 95% less energy than incandescent lighbulbs or sodium lighting.
- Install a light shield to send light back to the ground.
- Dig a trench around the parking area and add mulch or gravel so that rainwater flows there rather than overloading the storm sewer.
- Your parking lot needs to be resurfaced? Think of a green solution: it is possible to install a permeable paving stones or a plastic matrix over the entire surface of the parking area. Then the soil will fall into the spaces and rampant vegetation will grow. Thus, your parking won't be so hot under the sun; it will also absorb rainwater and help purify the air!
- Install a bird feeder or a birdhouse. How pleasant to hear the birds when going to church! Not to mention the reduction in the mosquito population!
Plant native vegetation rather than annual plants. Native vegetation require less maintenance and attracts the native fauna (butterflies, birds).
Leave a wild area, untouched, at the end of the property. Native wildlife will thank you!
Install a nest box for bats. They eat pounds of mosquitoes every week!