Environmental Excellence at Heartland Presbyterian Center

This past weekend I attended a Presbyterians for Earth Care meeting at Heartland Presbyterian Centerin Parkville, Missouri. The timing for this meeting could not have been better. The first night that we were at the center, members of its staff were attending an awards ceremony to receive an Environmental Excellence Award from Bridging the Gap. Bridging the Gap is a non-profit organization that works “to make the Kansas City region sustainable by connecting environment, economy and community.” The organization honored Heartland with the Not-For-Profit Honorable Mention in the 2010 Environmental Excellence Awards for Businesses Recipients.

Congratulations to Heartland Center for this recognition! Heartland’s commitment to caring for God’s earth is inspiring. Thank you to the center’s staff and board of directors for their commitment to this mission.

During our meeting, the staff at Heartland led a tour of the center that focused on the sustainable measures that have been implemented. It was exciting to hear about the work that has been done. Some of the environmental sustainability measures that have been implemented include:

• Fourteen solar panels have been installed on a guest lodge. The panels supply more power than is used in the building, and Heartland is able to sell the excess energy to the power company.

• The center has reduced the acreage that they mow by thirty percent. This has saved on gasoline and reduced carbon emissions, while creating more wildlife habitat.

• Over seventy percent of the light bulbs in the center have been replaced with high-efficiency CFLs in the past five years. Average monthly electric use has been reduced by twenty percent.

• Heartland purchases fair trade coffee from Café Justo, a farmer-owned cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico.

• Heartland’s summer camp curriculum includes stewardship of creation, including the use of the “Critter Shack nature center.”

• A pavilion at the center was built with wood salvaged from a barn that was torn down nearby.

• In 2003 the Heartland Center board of directors approved a Master Plan that calls for fifty percent of the center’s 320 acres to be kept as wilderness/natural area using forest and prairie management. The plan also calls for all new buildings and remodeling to use green technology and materials. Heartland has implemented other environmentally sustainable features as well.

It is wonderful to hear about innovative steps that camp and conference centers are taking to care for God’s earth. I look forward to learning about what other centers are doing at the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association Annual Conference at Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center later this month.

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