There is a clever Chinese proverb that states, “If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up in the place we are headed”. On Friday October 9, 2015 in one of East Lansing’s most well known churches, The Peoples Church, interested clergy, church staff, utilities and sustainable service providers gathered to share ideas on how to advance the MIIPL movement to motivate more houses of worship to become environmentally friendly and implement sustainable business practices at their place of worship. Experts in environmental stewardship, establishing green teams at houses of worship, green upgrades, house of worship energy audit, top 10 energy tips for your house and community solar were just some of the breakout sessions during the day. More than a dozen educational breakout sessions occurred which allowed the practitioners, vendors and professionals to describe and demonstrate their new ideas. Most of the ideas were practical applications on how to conserve energy, reduce water and material waste, while promoting a healthier house of worship within their placed based faith.
GreeningDetroit.com was the media sponsor for the 10th annual Green & Grow Your Congregation Conference. The conference attracted state and local leaders from houses or worship, nonprofits, government entities and sustainable businesses. The Conference’s sponsors included: CLEAResult, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, Performance Engineering, Water Furnace Renewable Energy, EFI, MECA, Homeland Builders Group, Michigan Community Action, Landing Board of Water & Light, PureEco and Meadowlark. Many other partners assisted in the conference’s success. Special congratulations also go out to all the awardees who have helped MIIPL with their mission and for their exemplary commitment to Earth stewardship.
There was a general consensus among conference attendees that based on the Popes’ recent US visit and Encyclical on the environment, perhaps attitudes among Houses of Worship are changing and action will be forthcoming towards increased environmental sustainability. Several examples were given that an organization’s cultural change must begin with the senior clergy’s support and promotion. It is the church religious and lay leaders who must agree to purchase sustainable and energy efficient materials, build sustainability “teams” to implement new policies and train employees through informational programs on reducing energy, water and material waste within the place of worship.
It has been said that in order to “sustain our future, we must start by rebuilding our past”. The conference’s collaborative setting allowed for professionals of different persuasions to create valuable and lasting partnerships while discovering new ways to rebuild our past. The Sustainability Conference allowed leading environmental professionals from diverse sectors across the state to come together for a day of education, training and networking. The conference accomplished its goal of demonstrating that green, sustainable business offers vast opportunities for cost savings and can have tangible positive effects on any House of Worship bottom line. Reducing material and energy waste, mitigating harmful chemicals and pollution prevention are important steps that organizations and the people working within them can take to begin to positively impact our environment.
ROBERT E. MATTLER is Managing Director for PACE-Equity in Michigan. He speaks, writes and reports about emerging sustainable real estate and development issues in Michigan and elsewhere. Bob is a senior correspondent for www.greeningdetroit.com. For more information, contact Bob at PACE-Equity (248) 762-4370; or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.