Nativity Catholic Church, a large congregation with 10,000 members has taken seriously the call from Pope Francis in his teaching, Laudato Si, to care for Creation. They have reduced their carbon footprint by over 40%, saving 7700 tons of carbon emissions, and an estimated $200,000 over the next 25 years in energy costs.
In the word of church member, Melissa Sinclair,
“Nativity Catholic Church worked with Catholic Energies for this project. Catholic Energies works with groups to determine if solar is a fit, then seeks funding, primarily through power purchase agreements. Two factors are critical in determining a potential project’s financial viability: current energy costs and available solar incentives. Catholic Energies found that Nativity Catholic Church was a good fit for the solar project and worked with us to get our project funded.
In early 2019, it became clear that our church needed a new roof. It was over three decades old and had served us well. After the new roof was completed, we partnered with Catholic Energies and agreed on a preliminary project to finance and install a Solar PV system, as well as a comprehensive LED retrofit on the school, and power conditioner energy efficiency equipment on the church and school.
Catholic Energies works with groups to seek funding, primarily through power purchase agreements. In those deals, an outside investor finances the project and sets a fixed rate for energy usage, often lower than local utility rates, which is paid directly to the investor. For coastal states (Virginia), the higher average energy costs provide added incentive for solar, as the savings can be considerably more than in regions with lower energy rates, like the Midwest. More attractive solar incentives are found on the East Coast, and Virginia is especially solar friendly.
Nativity Catholic Church has always had a focus on caring for God’s creation. Our mission reflects using our Christian values to safeguard God’s creation for all of His people. Becoming a Cool Congregation will show that our Parish is living our mission by being good stewards of our environment.
Our solar panels are on the rooftop, shouting the wisdom of Laudato Si, the social teaching of the church. Our roof is faith in action. The 25 year agreement with Catholic Energies will generate 91,000 kWh of clean solar power and avoid usage of a further 251,000 KWh in the school and 77,000 kWh in the church annually via efficiency measures effectively reducing the church and school’s carbon footprint by nearly 7,700 metric tons. Savings to the church and school over projected utility rates is estimated to be $200,000 over the next 25 years.
Our inspiration was to be a prophetic witness to the Care of our Common Home, our Earth, as asked by Pope Francis in his encyclical, “Laudato Si” (to reduce our carbon footprint and shift to clean renewable energy). This will reflect Christian values to safeguard God’s creation by using natural, clean energy and to be good stewards of the Earth. All of life is connected, it is our charge to protect and care for all life.”