In June 2009, Christ Church Morningside registered as an Eco-Congregation, which required us to conduct an audit of our practices as an organization and the impact they have on the environment. The way we conducted our audit involved the whole congregation in a short slot at our annual general meeting and in an hour long discussion after one of our Sunday services, as well as calling on each of the committees by which we organize ourselves to answer questions about how they work and what they would like to see happen. As a result of the audit, we know our strengths and weaknesses in this area, and once a year vestry discusses progress over the previous year and plans for the next one. We have included praise of creation and concern for the environment in our preaching, teaching, and prayers for some time now, and so many of our future plans have a practical bent.
Our most important priority, both now and in the future, is to reduce energy use – our goal is by 10% a year. We began by asking the Energy Saving Trust to inspect our premises and give us advice about where we should make changes. Since most of our carbon footprint comes from our gas-fired boilers, and three-quarters of that is spent heating the church space itself, we began logging gas use carefully against the weather forecast and the church temperature so that we could understand how best to trim our heating schedule for what was in the diary. We have since done the same in our hall and centre – between this and some small changes in how we use the premises we have reduced the carbon emissions associated with our energy use by around 25%. At present, we plan to consolidate these changes by installing new controls that take the effort out of this by using the diary and temperature sensors to decide when to turn the heating on for us. It’s very difficult to make changes that will improve heat retention in our church space because of the design, but while we think about them for the long term, we can at least improve the draughtproofing and pipe lagging in the hall. We are also just starting to look at reducing our electricity use. Electricity is a much smaller part of our carbon footprint, but we’ll need to find at least the easy gains now to reach our reduction target for 2012.
In addition to this work, we have also had some activities to engage the wider congregation, such as talks about composting and boiler controls. We shared the bounty from the rectory’s apple tree at our Harvest Festival supper, and our children made apple leather. We have previously shared vegetarian recipes during Lent; for Lent in 2011, a small group from the congregation took part in Carbon Conversations, along with people from other churches and from the local community. We often rely on Transition Edinburgh South for advice and support, and are grateful for their presence in our community.