The Catholic Community of St. Thomas More
940 Carmichael St Chapel Hill, NC 27514
The Environmental Stewardship Ministry of The Catholic Community of St. Thomas More was founded in 2008 to foster Christian environmental stewardship and establish and improve environmental management practices in church and school facilities and grounds. The ministry developed directly from the “Sustainability Committee” that for four years was part of the New Building Committee until the completion of the building project. The foundation of the ministry lies in the principles of the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor.
The Environmental Stewardship Ministry organized its yearly initiatives in a repeating three-year block corresponding to the Catholic liturgical calendar in order to highlight the connection between environmental responsibility and Christian spirituality. Year A (2011) focuses on waste reduction and an increase in recycling. Year B (2012) aligns with energy use reduction. Year C (2013) is focusing on water use reduction.
Focusing on energy reduction in 2012, we invited NCIPL to conduct an energy audit of our campus. Since not all buildings could be covered in the time available, we looked at the new Parish Center and the Sanctuary. Afterwards we prioritized based on affordability and pay-back the items identified by the excellent auditor and have begun working on our list. At no cost to the church, the air flow from the sanctuary HV/AC was re-directed away from the windows and into the sanctuary. A second change was the replacement of lights in the entrance hall ceiling with LED lights. A total of 152 halogen lights were replaced with LED lights for a monthly cost savings of $170.87. Our initial investment of $3000 will be repaid in 18 months, and then the savings will go directly to parish ministries. Given the fact that these bulbs are estimated to last 15-20 years, we expect to save at least $27,700 in electricity bills throughout the lifespan of these bulbs (based on current electric rates, which are subject to change and using the lights an average of 6 hours/day). Specific details regarding the types of halogen and LED lights involved in the project, the monthly cost savings, and life expectancy of LEDs can be found at the end of the article.
This year we are focusing on water use reduction, primarily in home use since significant water-saving features were installed during the construction project. Low-flow fixtures were installed throughout the Parish Center and the adjoining student bathrooms. A 15,000 gallon cistern provides harvested rainwater for the bathrooms in the Parish Center. In the three years since construction, there has been no need to use OWASA reclaimed water for the toilets and urinals since the cistern has handled our need. The reclaimed water is used not only as backup for inside use but also for any irrigation of the athletic field. The savings from the low-flow fixture and cistern installation are detailed in the charts below.
Parish Center Low-Flow Toilets
|OWASA Units Saved Monthly10.656||Water Saved Daily355.2 Gallons||Monthly Cistern Water Cost Savings$85.25||Monthly Low-Flow Sewer Cost Savings$85.25|
Parish Center Low-Flow Urinals
|OWASA Units Saved Monthly4.05||Water Saved Daily135 Gallons||Monthly Low-Flow Water Cost Savings$32.40||Monthly Low-Flow Sewer Cost Savings$32.40|
School Low-Flow Toilets
|OWASA Units Saved Monthly5.994||Water Saved Daily199.8 Gallons||Monthly Low-Flow Water Cost Savings$47.95||Monthly Low-Flow Sewer Cost Savings$47.95|
School Low-Flow Urinals
|OWASA Units Saved Monthly2.025||Water Saved Daily67.5 Gallons||Monthly Low-Flow Water Cost Savings$16.20||Monthly Low-Flow Sewer Cost Savings$16.20|
St. Thomas More Church and School recycling efforts in 2012 led to the collection of over 22 tons of material that will be used in the fertilization of plant life and the creation of new products.
The Environmental Stewardship Ministry has also organized initiatives for 2013. If there is sufficient interest among parishioners, we will start the San Isidro Labrador organic garden that will be cooperatively maintained by Anglo and Latino parishioners. The ministry will also conduct waste reduction training sessions for other parish ministries who hold “food events” to provide information on the “why” and “what” on recycling and composting to empower those groups to reduce the waste at their events
The larger mission of the Environmental Stewardship Ministry is to “Care for Creation and the Poor.” In our fifth year of existence, the ministry aims to bring the message of environmental responsibility into a new realm: Encouraging parishioners to incorporate environmental stewardship practices into their daily lives at home and within the parish. From the proposed cooperative organic garden to the monthly collection of select recyclable materials, St. Thomas More parishioners are actively embracing environmental stewardship as an integral part of their Christian spirituality.
LED Light Installation and Cost Savings
•Replacing 90, MR-16 halogen bulbs 35W/50W, with Toshiba 6.7W LED bulbs rated for 25000 hours at a savings of $76.63 per month based on average daily usage of 6 hours. That usage also implies a life expectancy of 11.4 years for the LEDs.
•Replacing 40, PAR-30/ BR-30 65W bulbs, with Toshiba BR-30 13.8W LED bulbs rated 40000 hours at a savings of $51.48 per month. 6 hours average daily usage implies a life expectancy of 18.3 years.
•Replacing 16, PAR-38 90W halogen bulbs, with UtiliTech PAR-38 20W LED bulbs rated 30000 hours at a savings of $28.51 per month. 6 hours average daily usage implies a life expectancy of 13.7 years.
•Replacing 6, PAR-38 120W halogen bulbs, with Lighting Science PAR-38 24W LED bulbs rated 50000 hours at a savings of $14.26 per month. 6 hours average daily usage implies a life expectancy of 22.8 years.
-Bob Weickert, co-chair of the Environmental Stewardship Ministry at St. Thomas More