Monday, March 09, 2009

Sunset Presyberian Going Green?

On Friday, I sat down with Marie Hamann, Facility Manager at Sunset Presbyterian church. Which as you most of you know, is my home church, and basically my second home. Last week, due to the economy, they announced a $200,000 budget cut, which basically means: less people + less hours = doing more. This is where I come in and I need your help! We are looking for ways that SPC can be more sustainable. I'm willing to do the research but I need help brainstorming.

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." -Genesis 2:15

Just because we are not living in Eden anymore doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to take better care of this planet. Before meeting with Marie, I did some research on what other church in the Portland area are doing. Here is what I found:
  1. St. Philip Neri has built a bioswale to filter urban run off from it's building, parking lot and the community around the church.
  2. Earth Home Ministries aims "to inspire and mobilize the Christian community to play a leadership role in building a just and sustainable future."
  3. First Unitarian Church built a LEED certified building called Buchan Building
While SPC is taking steps in the right dirrection. There is room for a lot of improvement. Here is what Marie pointed out as "trouble spots":
  • Plastic Water Bottles - people in Oregon still use these?!? My suggestion, stop ordering them, offer people water pitchers at events. People won't know the difference. And if someone has an issue invest in a Brita water filter for one of the sinks in the kitchen.
  • Disposable cups - think about how much coffee we drink as a congregation. Think we could take people into actually bringing their own coffee mugs to church? Or investing in recyable cups...
  • Recycling old technology (we just need a labor force do this) Freegeek in Southeast Portland refurbishs donated IT equipment then gives it to charities and non-profits.
  • Overprinting - how can we talk people into printing less, using recyclable paper, and recycling the excess. My suggestion, SPC should monitor for one week, how much paper gets recycled. I think thin numbers would be eye-opening.
  • Left over food - turning it into a compost. Available for the congration or maybe even a church garden somewhere on the property. I'm sure people would be interested in the coffee grounds alone + we have to have some gardeners in the congreation.
  • Changing SPC utilities over to renewable engery
  • Investing in solar panels on the roof - free real estate to anyone who wants it?
If you go to SPC, have any other suggestions or ideas? If you don't, what is some thing your community is doing to go green?


Melinda said...

As per the disposable cups and water pitchers: do you know the comparative impact of detergents used to wash reusable cups/pitchers, vs. use of biodegradable cups? Just wondering...

I really like the compost long there are volunteers committed to loyally man it.

As for the printing, I do not know what is printed beyond Sunday bulletins, so I will only address this aspect. In order to be respectful and inclusive of those in our population who do not have or use computers, a hard copy could be available at a stand in the central area where the bulletins are currently handed out. The single sheet would only be of announcements. Only those who are interested and can not access them by computer would take one. The quantities would be adjusted accordingly, upon noting how many are consumed on average. Everyone else would get theirs via email or online at the church website. Pertaining to the sermon notes...we can bring our own journals, if we wish to take notes. Pertaining to prayer requests and address cards, they can be on a tear-off pad at the seat-backs and dropped into the offering plate as we are now. That is a much smaller piece of paper per person than currently being consumed and it can be on recycled paper.

I am going to link you from my blog and see if we can get some other SPCers brainstorming.

Jenna said...

I know the cost of buying, recycling, and long term effects of plastic use overrides water usage and detergents for washing. Although investing in greener cleaning products for the church is a good idea! Thanks!

I think the compost is a really good idea. I just need to find someone to be in charge of it. Maybe I'll see if I can get in the announcements. I was also thinking about having an exchange program for the coffee grinds. Like 1 scoop = 1 hr. of volunteering at Kidtropolis (I know they are in need of volunteers). It would be a good way to recruit.

SPC does a TON of printing, bulletins for three services, then middle school, high school, small children, announcements, sign up forms, cards, flyers, mail stuff, etc. See where I'm going with this? I like your ideas on shortening the weekly bulletin. I believe it is roughly three pages now. If we could cut it down to two pages that would be awesome (save money). And also switch to non virgin materials.

Thanks for the link love!

Air-iq said...

Really like the whole bring your coffee mug idea.
learning garden is a great idea. but with a fish pond, could even be attractive; that fertilizes the garden which grows things. that requires community volunteer involvment and hopefully attracts people.
old scool but water wells, reserviors, and filters.
some kind of hydro/wind technology for electicity, (we'll see what developes in the future)
Not a fan of solar panels in the pac. North west; (i dont know why)
yeah spc and sustainablility

Jenna said...

Thanks Eric for your suggestions. I'm not sure how we can do the whole coffee cup idea, since coffee isn't actually allowed in the sanctuary. I like the idea of a "learning garden" maybe get the younger kids involved. Fertilizers wouldn't be necessary because of the compost from the kitchen.

I don't think water wells will be necessary since we have a pretty good source of water as it is. Some with the wind power.

I think the solar panels would work. Off set some of the energy costs. And no one uses the roof and we can't do an urban garden because of the slant.

Air-iq said...

the coffee mug thing- how about a wall of hooks that mugs hang on, behind a counter. like a coat rack but for mugs, so you bring them to church with your bible and leave it out on the mug rack until after. would church people fly with that?
fish pond water is a natural fertilizer and part of that whole cycle of life thing. Fish ponds go up hill of an urban garden with a tube that carries that fish water to water the plants with a slow consistent drip, it doesn't take the few weeks of turning coffee grounds into compost.
Is there enough sun to power anything with solar panels here? other than pay to park machines

Jenna said...

I'm not sure the coffee mug rack would be a very good idea. Broken/stolen mugs, etc. I think it will have to be a bring your own and honor system style in service.

Maybe a fish pond, I feel like we are pushing our luck asking for a garden. Plus implementing anything that cost money might not work out since we are trying to actually save the church money. Plus, we already have the coffee grounds.

As for solar panels. I'm sure there is enough power to at least offset some of the church's energy expenses.