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Photo: Anita Brinkman
Photo by Anita Brinkman

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Photo: Terry Veldboom
Photo by Terry Veldboom

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Photo: Anita Brinkman
Photo by Anita Brinkman

As stewards of God’s creation, people can work to care for the natural environment in many ways. Leaders at the Burlington, Ont., office of the Christian Reformed Church in North America have taken steps to care for the space around them in small but important ways.

A number of “green initiatives” — efforts to care for the environment and use resources well — at the Burlington office were an intentional part of recent renovations and upgrades to the property since the process began in 2016.

The administrative team at the office worked with the construction company doing the renovations to plan ways that would limit the building’s environmental footprint and live out the CRCNA’s Christian calling to care for creation and be good stewards of the land God has provided.

Low cost, efficient LED lighting now illuminates all areas of the building. A solar tube brings more daylight into a section of the building that has few windows. A water-bottle filling station reduces the use of plastic for bottled water, and the staff kitchen has introduced a compost bin to reduce garbage.

This past spring saw the planting of 46 new maple, oak, walnut, and basswood trees all around the CRCNA office grounds. And over 350 new shrubs — all native and noninvasive species — now stand in the gardens. A new stormwater management system also limits run-off pollution to guard a nearby creek, a protected wetland area.

“The way we plant our gardens, how we deal with our garbage, and how we reuse material is important,” said Canadian Ministries Director Rev. Darren Roorda, who studied and worked in environmental science before entering ministry.

“I am so delighted that even in our building renovation, we have considered and applied what it means to be good stewards of God’s creation. This kind of thinking warms my pastoral and scientist heart.”

Another key feature of the environmental plan has been the installation of a bank of 28 solar panels atop the main entrance awning of the office building. The panels, manufactured by Canadian Solar, are part of a microFIT program contract approved by IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator), a not-for-profit corporation that works with the Ontario Energy Board to ensure sustainable electrical power.

A goal of the microFIT program has been to support the development of “micro” renewable electricity generation projects (10 kilowatts or less in size) such as solar panel installations.

According to monthly energy production reports, the carbon offset of the CRCNA solar panels for the first six months of 2019 has been equivalent to that of 97 trees.

June’s long daylight hours yielded a carbon offset of 1.08 tonnes (equivalent to the output of 28 trees) for that month alone. The panels were activated in November 2018, and the IESO contract will run for the next 20 years.

For more information on taking steps at your church, home, or workplace to care for creation, look up the Climate Witness Project sponsored by the CRC’s Office of Social Justice. And if you are already working at creation care, let us know! Share Your Sustainable Practices.