Sunnybrook United Church (Red Deer, AB)

Sunnybrook United Church, established in 1964, is one of two United Churches in Red Deer, a city of just over 100,000 in the Parkland region of Central Alberta.

The membership of SBUC has a long history of being a welcoming and inclusive community, actively engaging in social justice issues.  SBUC acknowledges the Indigenous traditional territories represented by Treaty 6 and 7 as the land it is situated on and strives to live in right relations with the Indigenous peoples of this land.

In 2019, an Environment and Climate Change Working Group was formed with the goal of
seeking ways to honour the biblical tradition of stewarding God’s Creation. Since then, we have collaborated with our congregation and made significant progress toward that objective.
In response to an energy audit of our aging building, our main focus has been to retrofit areas of deficiency and mitigate GHG emissions by:

— replacing old furnaces with new energy-efficient furnaces
— replacing incandescent and fluorescent lighting with LED
— caulking and sealing drafts around doors and windows
— installing quilted tapestries with Creation themes as decorative solutions to mitigate heat loss in areas of the sanctuary
—installing an 88 solar-panel array on the church roof

In addition to addressing the physical structure of our building, our congregation has been
striving to mitigate our ecological footprint by:

—recycling wherever possible
—composting our kitchen waste
—provision of community raised-bed planters
—reducing the use of disposable products in the kitchen
—planning future workshops on various stewardship topics
—making the congregation aware of other stewardship learning opportunities and examples in the community

Sunnybrook United Church is seeking to network with other organizations and faith
communities who are working to mitigate Climate Change and steward God’s Creation. We are called to be a positive and hopeful resource for our community.

In Fall 2021, Sunnybrook United Church became home to the first net-zero solar-powered church in Red Deer. The church installed an 88-solar-panel array with 22 micro-inverters on its east- and west-facing roofs.

The church has taken this step out of concern about global warming and a desire to be a leader for change. “Reducing our environmental impact is part of our mission as a church,” says Keith Rispler, co-chair of the Church Property Committee. “The United Church of Canada’s creed calls us to live with respect in creation.”

The church also believes that being a steward of the environment is part of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, says Rispler.

The project has been several years in the making. Initially, the congregation was hesitant to switch to solar power because of the expense, but after many discussions and research by the Environment and Climate Change Working Group in cooperation with the Church Property Committee, it decided to go ahead, with SkyFire Energy, based in Calgary, as the chosen solar installer.

The project is being completely financed by church members, and at a cost of $69,500.00, it is expected to pay for itself in 13 years. Together, the 88 435-watt panels will produce over 38,000-kilowatt hours of electricity per year, a little more than the church used in 2019 operating at full, pre-pandemic capacity.

The church estimates that the environmental impact of switching to solar power will be
significant. Over its projected 30-year life span, the solar installation will save 390 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere, roughly 13 metric tonnes per year.
“We have the opportunity to reduce our environmental footprint not only as individuals but also as communities, corporations and governments,” says Rispler.” We have taken up our
responsibility as a faith community to reduce our carbon footprint now and in the future.”

Sunnybrook United Church
12 Stanton Street
Red Deer, AB
T4N 0B8

Sunnybrook United Church