Energy saving efforts in Archdiocese

In an effort to step up energy saving efforts in the Province of Mid-North America, two Sisters and a Mission Partner attended an energy summit this summer which the Archdiocese of St. Louis hosted. Sister Sharon O’Grady talks about the experience.

On July 31 I attended the St. Louis Archdiocesan Energy Summit with our Province Kitchen Manager Sister Monica Duong and Communications Coordinator Jeanette McDermott. Bishop Edward Rice opened the summit by referring to the recent encyclical Laudato Si. Bishop Rice stressed our need to be stewards of the earth.

Ameren_thumbThe summit was primarily for archdiocesan managers of church facilities, schools and other structures such as convents. We learned that leadership in all dioceses are making plans and stepping up efforts to cut energy use and reduce pollution. This leads to financial savings that can be reinvested in ministry. Also these changes, believe it or not, do not diminish comfort.

For example, the Archdiocese of Chicago has entered a 13-facility team in EPA’s 2015 National Building Competition, where it will be “competing” with more than 120 other teams, and over 6,500 buildings, to see who can reduce energy and water use the most during 2015.

EPA energy saving program

Various new technologies are used to accomplish these goals. The EPA’s Energy Star Program partners with facilities and helps to make the difference. Energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emission can be tracked by their online Portfolio Manager tool.  You learn how to benchmark the performance of your buildings. Then steps can be taken to improve energy efficiency. Many church facilities cut energy use by 35% using this program. Rebates and incentives are also available. A number of vendors set up booths at the summit to share their energy saving devices and explain the rebates.

energy savingWe also heard a presentation by a representative from Mercy Hospital. Mercy has a number of buildings in St Louis City and County, and has partnered with the Energy Star Program for a few years. Mercy has almost maxed out potential energy saving incentives and rebates up to a million dollars. These energy saving efforts result in large financial gains.

Mercy Hospital and the Archdiocese of Chicago are leaders in the Catholic campaign to reduce energy consumption. Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has said it “is important to remember that the encyclical is not a rhetorical or abstract dissertation… The Pope is asking each of us, you and me, to take action now.”

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Sharon O'Grady

Sharon O'Grady

Sister Sharon O'Grady grew up in Denver, Colorado, and entered the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in St. Louis in 1961. She has worked in a number of ministries including those dedicated to helping adolescent girls with problems, addictive women, women in prison and homeless families recovering from domestic violence. These ministries led her into deeper experiences of the Good Shepherd’s love for each and every person and have challenged her to become more like the Shepherd.