St. Paul's UCC Earthwise Team
St. Paul's UCC has a record of being environmentally responsible. Since 2009, the Earthwise Committee has led the congregation in environmental activities that help both save money and save the Earth. 2014 has been our biggest year yet, with three projects that are making a significant difference in our impact on the natural world--the solar panel array, the rain gardens, and the rebuilt roof.
Ninety-six solar panels were installed on the Great Hall roof in August. Under optimal conditions, the solar panels provide up to 40 kilowatts of power. Even in the winter, we're making electricity out of sunshine. The savings are being noticed immediately and are gradually paying off the cost of the installation. Our completed solar array was filmed and the segment shown on Al Gore's “24 Hours” television program. For more information on our solar project, please click here.
At the same time, the roof over the wing containing the offices and Classrooms A, B, and C was redone. New is a slope on the roof that directs all rain and snowmelt toward Summit Avenue and the rain garden. Also new is a thicker layer of insulation that protects the building from temperature extremes and from water leakage. Gone is the lake that used to lie on top of the roof during the winter, causing leakage, and the waterfalls where melt and rain water would cascade onto the parking lot. People in the offices and classrooms appreciate the drier environment.
Two new rain gardens were installed last May with the help of grants from the Capitol Region Watershed District and Ramsey Conservation. These gardens are on the north side of the church and receive rain and melt water from church roofs year-round. They allow runoff water to seep gradually into the soil and replenish soil moisture and prevent it from entering street drains. The gardens are planted with native wildflowers that grow well in wet areas. The wildflowers attract birds, bees, and butterflies, providing an oasis for them and a place of meditation for us humans.
That's not all! Earthwise maintains the resource-saving activities that we've started since 2009, and we look for new ideas, large and small.
In 2014, we:
- led three Journey of Faith discussions on environmental topics
- participated in worship services--the National Preach-in on Climate Change on February 16, Integrity of Creation Sunday April 27, and as witnessing environmental stewards
- presented information about our Earthwise program to Macalester-Plymouth United Church
- continued to provide just-in-time heating of church spaces using electronic temperature controls
- made our Rally Day picnic a Zero Waste event
- replaced an old refrigerator in the Fireside Room with an Energy Star model
- participated in Community Supported Agriculture with weekly fresh vegetable deliveries
The Ministry of Belonging & Community also participates by continuing the Fair Trade Coffee Hour that supports environmentally friendly agricultural practices in coffee-growing countries.
For the 6th year in a row, we received recognition from the Minnesota Conference of the UCC as an Earthwise Church.
Join us in environmental activities--large and small, at home and in church. Let's all reduce our carbon footprint for the sake of our children and our global neighbors!