These sub-zero temperatures have been challenging for all of us. As we try to keep our homes and offices comfortable, we crank up our thermostats and brace for higher utility bills. However, there are many things we can all do to cut down on our use of electricity and gas, save money and be more sustainable.
As my parish, Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church, embarks on designing a new sanctuary, one of our highest priorities is striving for energy efficiency by building a self-sustainable campus with a low-carbon footprint. Using sod roofing and angled exterior walls creates greater efficiency in the structure. It also makes a statement to passers-by that in addition to caring for our neighbors, the Orthodox care for our shared “home,” which is the natural environment.
This spring begins the second year of the Angels Community Garden, which serves as a living lesson on improving the physical and spiritual health of the local community. This is the beginning of a larger project, aimed at becoming a self-sustainable, organic, healthy and efficient source of food for people — just like the original “design” of the Garden of Eden. Wastefulness and ignorance are against our purpose on this blessed planet.
Our efforts to become more energy efficient don’t have to end at the church. We encourage our members and our neighbors to do what they can to become more efficient at home. Whether it’s a homeowner updating an old, inefficient furnace, a congregation installing a new lighting system, or a small-business owner adding insulation, energy efficiency benefits all of us.
Making our homes and work places more energy efficient reduces pollution and gives Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water. Michigan’s coal plants emit dangerous levels of mercury, sulfur dioxide and arsenic, which are linked to heart disease, childhood asthma, lung disease, and premature death. Reducing our energy consumption through efficiency improvements will result in a healthier state, while also reducing health care costs incurred because of pollution.
By taking steps toward energy efficiency, people of faith are acting as good stewards of God’s creation. Michigan Interfaith Power & Light offers many free online resources, including energy efficiency manuals for houses of worship: www.MichiganIPL.org.
In 2008 the Michigan Legislature created an energy efficiency program which has been highly successful. A recent report filed by the Michigan Public Service Commission found that for every $1 invested in energy efficiency, ratepayers save over $4 in energy costs.
At Gov. Snyder’s public energy forum in Traverse City last April, I expressed that Michigan can and should do more to foster energy efficiency. I believe and hope that 2014 will be the year we work together and embrace higher energy efficiency standards. As the governor prepares to implement his goals for Michigan’s energy future and the legislature prepares to hold hearings, let’s get energy efficiency at the top of their to-do lists. We have the opportunity to save families money, protect Michiganders’ health, and preserve God’s creation, all through energy efficiency.
About the author: The Rev. Ciprian Streza is pastor of Archangel Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church of Traverse City; on the web at: http://tcorthodoxchurch.com/; on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AngelsCommunityGarden; by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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