We are a Franciscan community in North Raleigh that is inspired by our patron, St. Francis, who lived simply and had a special connection with all of creation. About three years ago, our community re-invigorated our efforts to become a more sustainable living community through starting a new ministry, Franciscan Care of Creation (FCC). As our community proceeded with plans to build additional buildings, the FCC participated with the Building Committee to incorporate many energy-saving measures. As a result an expanded pre-school, a new activity/community center, and a new chapel all received a gold LEED building certification. In addition, our new Siena Life-long Learning Center received a silver certification. These were designed with sustainable principles in mind.
The FCC has been invited to participate on other parish committees to provide our perspective in their decisions. Based on a recent energy audit, the parish achieved 20% improvement in energy efficiency. This has resulted in lower power usage and the resulting dollar savings. In recent years, we have been replacing our oldest HVAC units as funds can be made available. This summer we plan to replace our two oldest (1989) HVAC units. The new buildings utilize much natural lighting. For our existing buildings we are transitioning to green lighting systems with CFLs and LEDs.
Our community has always had a special concern for those less fortunate than ourselves. Considering the needs of the hungry, we have started an organic community garden. This consists of multiple raised beds that are tended by volunteers. Although the garden is less than two years old, it has delivered around 750 pounds of food to the needy. In this effort we have received help from other faith congregations as well as NC State. The garden also provides opportunities for children and families to connect to the Earth and learn about the benefits of locally grown, organic produce.
The ministry has had water cleanup activities at Falls Lake and at rivers and streams in Wake and Durham counties, often in partnership with other organizations. We have provided information after services on sustainable living, have held movie nights and had speakers. We will be expanding our garden, having more educational programs, and reaching out to others as our resources allow.
–Franciscan Care of Creation Team