Latest News on the Saint Columba House pilot project:
In 2006 Saint Columba House took up the challenge to begin to question its environmental practices and make some changes. Without too much effort nor much investment of funds, we have come a long way from being an environmentally unaware and inactive organization to one that questions and challenges its own practices and serves as a model for other organizations and church groups interested in pursuing the same route.
Most of what we have done was accomplished by simply changing habits and raising awareness - Improving our recycling practices, questioning our consumer choices and examining our energy use patterns. Other programs and projects were set in motion with the willingness of staff and volunteers to go the extra mile which resulted in such initiatives as our composting program which processes up to 2,000 pounds of kitchen refuse annually.
Our building is still nice and clean with the use of bio-degradable cleaning products compatible with cold water. Some building retrofits were installed to reduce heat loss and improve distribution. Exterior doors were replaced, windows repaired and sealed and a Heat Distribution device was installed on our furnace. New appliances have been purchased with energy efficiency in mind and old clunkers have been properly disposed of. These and many other practices have made a big difference.
We have also worked closely with community partners to develop a collective gardening project to grow vegetables, fruits and flowers both by the side of our building and up on our second floor terrace. This has not only provided a wonderful educational and recreational project for many community members, but it has also modeled how food can be grown at home in containers and preserved for future use. Food security is increasingly becoming a concern everywhere, but especially in low-income communities.
We have worked to educate the community on protecting the environment by means of our programs, modeling new practices and through an environmental news board in the lunch-room. Most importantly, we have developed an environmental policy to ensure that all board, staff and volunteers are committed to this initiative and will continue to pursue its goals and objectives.
It is not usually so great to open up your correspondence from Gaz Metropolitain, but I must say, we were delighted when a rebate of $3,700 arrived in the mail last week with notification that our monthly bill will be reduced again by $200. These valuable funds will be redirected towards empowering programs and community initiatives to pursue our mission rather than overheat the building! This has inspired us to undertake an energy audit to see where we are making savings and how we can improve and maximize our efforts. We will be undertaking this initiative over the summer with the help of Isaac Mundy of The Green Church Project of the Montreal Presbytery. Through our participation in The Green Church Pilot Project of churches and ministry sites actively involved in greening their ministries, we will keep you posted of our developments and of what we learn.
Patricia Murphy and Leslie Harris
Saint Columba House
2365, Grand Trunk, Montreal Qc, H3K 1M8