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Survey to help Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) determine its carbon footprint

Congregations, presbyteries and synods are urged to participate

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Congregations, presbyteries and synods have a new opportunity to help the planet by participating in an effort to reduce the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s carbon footprint.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) is urging them to take the Energy Use and Carbon Footprint Survey, which is available online and takes just 10 to 15 minutes to fill out once the required material has been gathered.

The survey springs from action taken during the 225th General Assembly (2022) to help protect the environment by taking steps to reduce the church’s carbon footprint by 25% in four years. As part of that, the Presbyterian Mission Agency was directed to conduct a survey of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) buildings to help determine the denomination’s current footprint.

“In order to be mindful and intentional in reducing our carbon footprint as a denomination, it’s important that we get as best a sense as possible of our ‘baseline’ carbon footprint in the ways that we can,” said the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, PHP’s Coordinator. “Collecting building energy use data will help us to establish our sense of our current baseline of energy consumption. The more congregations filling out the survey, the better, to give us a good representative sample of how Presbyterian property energy use currently stands.”

The survey will glean information about congregations’ annual energy usage for electricity, heating, and other sources, which can be obtained from utility bills or online portals. There is space in the survey to indicate whether the church has had an energy audit, made energy efficiency changes or uses renewable energy. There also are suggestions for using less energy.

The Rev. Rebecca Barnes (Photo by Rich Copley)

“We believe we’re all called to reduce our consumption of energy and natural resources individually as well as to take advocacy actions on climate change,” Barnes said. “However, another level of change is needed by our stewardship of our building and grounds to conserve energy and promote renewable energy. One we have collected the information, we’ll be able to share ideas to reduce energy use and thus, our impact on climate change.”

The survey will be conducted again in future years.

“We will resend this survey in four years, so that we can compare it to this year’s data as a baseline,” Barnes said. “It will help us establish if we’ve been able to reduce building energy use in the intervening four years.”

The survey can be found here. Go here to find information about programs that congregations can use to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program is part of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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