Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action

Primary Media
The United Church of Canada Faithful Footprints program offers inspiration, tools, and grants to help its faith communities reduce their carbon footprint.
Published On: February 9, 2023

For International Development Week 2023 (February 5-11) The United Church of Canada highlights Mission & Service Partners who are contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.

An affirming church with a progressive congregation, Old Barns United in Lower Truro, Nova Scotia, is over a hundred years old, and while the congregation has grown smaller, it is still a strong, active and engaged community. Before the pandemic, the church was a place not only of worship, but also of deep conversation. People were affected not only by the goings on in the local community, but also by what they witnessed via the news. “There were a lot of stories on the environment,” says Bob Francis, a member of the Board of Stewards and Trustee, who led a recent initiative to green the old church building. “The stories were about the gravity of the crisis of climate change, with an occasional good news story of people doing something about it.”

One such good-news story came their way in the form of Rev. Phillip Kennedy, a new minister. He shared that at his previous charge, Woodlawn United in Dartmouth, they had installed solar panels to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and save money. Rev. Kennedy’s experience got people motivated to do the same at Old Barns United.

A working group put together a wish list that included solar panels, heat pumps, changing the fluorescent light tubing to LED, and updating their older electric baseboard heaters.

“It ended up being a major project,” Francis says. He learned about the Faithful Footprints program and filled out an application. It was approved within two days. He found matching funding and rebates. He also found an electrician willing to install the heaters on his own time, after hours.

Since the project started in April, 2022, “We’re already seeing reduction in energy use,” Francis says. “In fact, we’ve produced 1,100kWh since October 20th. That’s pretty darn good considering the weather we’ve had. Today we produced 1.4 kWh of power, and we haven’t even seen the sun yet.”

Come the summer, Old Barns United won’t have any power bills at all. Already, they’ve turned their furnace off.

It’s an impressive conversion in such a short time, one that significantly reduces Old Barns’ greenhouse gas emissions, saves them money, and creates a more comfortable space for the community. And to top it all off, the church is living the message in its Creed: “Living with Respect in Creation.”

This story was adapted and edited from the longer version on the Faithful Footprints website.