Friendship United receives UCC grant for reducing carbon footprint

Friendship United Church in Demorestville. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)



The goal of addressing the issue of climate change isn’t stopping at the sanctuary door.

A carbon reduction grant program offered by the United Church of Canada (UCC) called Faithful Footprints aims to reduce the carbon footprint at churches across the country by 80 per cent as of 2050 offered up to $30,000 for each UCC location.

Working hard this past year to achieve the goal of reducing its carbon footprint is Friendship United Church in Demorestville (FUCD).

Friendship United Church in Demorestville. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette staff)

With the help of Faithful Footprints, FUCD conducted an energy audit to show church leaders where money would be best spent. After hours of meetings, FUCD came up with a carbon reduction plan and a schedule to accomplish their goal.

“Faithful Footprints is a partnership of Faith and the Common Good and The United Church of Canada,” said Bob Parsons, a member of FUCD. “Together, we are stepping up to reduce the United Church’s carbon emissions 80 per cent by 2050; doing our part to address climate change.”

Part of this program involves proper recycling efforts to keep items out of landfill sites. Faith and the Common Good is an interfaith network of religious communities who understand the Earth as a sacred gift. They believe their faith traditions are a key source of wisdom in the great spiritual quest of our time: Healing our beloved Earth. They believe They’re called to re-envision the way we live. 

The UCC Faithful Footprints program offers United Church congregations inspiration; tools, and grants to help them live their climate commitments. The grants are designed to reduce financial barriers for energy efficiency projects and are available for any United Church congregation, camp, or outreach ministry and are requiring congregations to submit two years’ worth of their energy data so that they can better measure improvements in the building’s energy use nationally, and so that you can see the difference that your own efforts make. They’re also requiring an energy audit. This audit should match the scale of the project and reflect an understanding of the potential energy savings. 

Finally, to access the grant, you must bring 50 per cent of your asking amount to the table for the planned energy efficiency project (if you request a $30,000 grant; congregation must add in $15,000 (50 per cent of grant) to equal $45,000 project). The grant will cover the following examples: 1) insulation of attic or walls; 2) major air sealing (caulking and weather-stripping); 3) Converting lights to LED’s; 4) installation of energy efficiency heating and cooling system; 5) upgrading of windows; 6) replacement of appliances with Energy Star appliances; 7) Any projects recommended for your building from an Energy Audit; 8) Solar installation if other actions have been done first. 

“In April of 2019, I travelled to my property in Nova Scotia,” expressed Parsons to The Gazette. “I attended Trinity United Church in Riverport, my Church away from home. I noticed work being done on the Church and was told they had a grant to do it.

Parsons forwarded info on the UCC grant to fellow congregate Paul Hillier  and plans for a Green Audit were completed and undertaken. By September 2019, the church were approved for a grant of $30,000.

Some upgrades that have been made to the church so far have cut back on hydro bills and met eco requirements they hadn’t been able to prior.

Since the church was heated with costly radiant electric heaters, FUCD first upgraded to a new 97 per cent efficient propane boiler, all new hydronic baseboard heaters and WI-FI set back thermostats in the CE Centre and sanctuary. All the lights in the church have been replaced with LED lighting. 

Both bathrooms were also updated with new toilets and motion sensor light switches. One bathroom now meets the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act – 2005. Over the winter, spring and summer, the church sealed all the windows, doors and hatches; replaced the taps in the kitchen (which lower the water consumption), and two ductless air conditioners were installed in the CE Centre. 

“All this work has benefited the United Church of Canada and Friendship United Church, meeting the goals of reducing the financial burden and making the earth a cleaner place,” Parsons stated. “The lighting alone will save us $.24kw/h, making a pay back within four or five years on the lighting. Replacing the heating system made a huge difference in the comfort, the ability to protect the ageing plaster and mural in the sanctuary, not to mention the much lower hydro bills. Doing all these things help us to be better stewards of the earth, which was God’s plan. There are grants out there that can help homeowners. It shows the community that we all can make a difference one place at a time to help change the climate problem. We would like to do a presentation at the Church sometime; invite the community in to see what we have done and help show them how easy it is. You too can help with climate change, one house at a time. Take the initiative and it will pay you back. The new year is a great time to start making some changes that will help us care for this planet that God has entrusted us with.”

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