The GreenSpot School designation indicates that a school has taken initiatives to educate their students and staff about sustainability, water issues, conserving energy, reducing waste, and green transportation. St. Mary School Catholic school has become the first in Columbus to earn this designation. They have implemented a recycling program, local garden, and composting, which qualified them to become a GreenSpot School. They have created a short video of students discussing their engagement and staff discussing the impact of becoming a GreenSpot School.
Since the release of Laudato si’, many Catholic churches have made caring for creation a priority. About a year ago, the Catholic Diocese of Columbus started The Creation Care Team to help in their task of caring for creation. Their main role is to promote the church’s teachings on care for creation and in particular how it was articulated in Laudato si’. They assemble groups of people with specific initiatives who work on spreading awareness, educating, and developing practical ways for Catholics to live. While their work has impacts that spread far and wide, one distinct person who has made a difference is Bruce Boylan, the Director of Facilities for the Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
Around a year ago, Bruce and his team started looking for ways to help Catholic schools in the area reduce their energy costs. They came upon the idea of LED lights and obtained a few samples that were first tried in the cafeteria of St. Mary’s church. An example of the difference between a normal fluorescent bulb and an LED bulb can be seen below. They found that there was a significant improvement in lighting and cost, but the payback time took about nine months. The problem was in that nine months; if a parish or school did not have the money to invest right away, then nine months was too long to wait for saving money. Along with the payback time being delayed, the price of the LED bulbs were about sixteen dollars apiece and they were difficult to install. All these problems were holding them back, until they found a local realtor.
Late last year, they found a local realtor who was selling LED bulbs for six dollars apiece and they were much easier to install. With this new price, the payback time was reduced from nine months to only three and a half months. With this lower price and easier installation, these bulbs caused a 73% reduction in an energy bill for lights after just three and a half months. The math done to calculate these figures can be seen below. Now, the idea of LED lights became much more plausible for everyone.
Bruce placed his first order for 500 LED bulbs to replace the lights in the Catholic Diocese building in Columbus. The cost was 3,000 dollars and they have an expected rebate of 1,500 dollars. Even without the rebate, within three and a half months they will be saving enough money to make the purchase worth it. After the increase of confidence in these bulbs, they started to spread the word to buildings across the area. Schools have the highest interest because they have the most to gain. They have an immense need for lighting and have their lighting in use more often compared to parishes and other buildings. A school in the area has recently placed an order for 100 LED bulbs to sample. They found them to be well worth it and have since placed an order for 400 more bulbs. The success of these LED bulbs is astronomical and with the continued work of Bruce and The Creation Care Team, it will only continue to grow.
The Catholic Bishops of Ohio are against an indefinite freeze of Ohio’s clean energy target standards. The Ohio Mandates Study Committee has called for this freeze due to a need for continual studying of energy standards and their impact on the state. The Bishops, however, feel that there is no need to freeze the standards, as alternative energy sources benefit the environment as well as society.
This is not the first time that the Bishops of Ohio have voiced such a stance. Back in 2014, a similar issue arose with SB 310, which proposed the original freeze of Ohio’s advanced energy portfolio standard that was established by SB221. The Bishops voiced opposition to SB 310 at that time.
The Creation Care Team of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus has created a Creation Care Guide based on the teachings of Laudato Si’. This guide contains information on energy conservation and efficiency, purchasing and recycling, transportation, and water conservation. Additionally, they have a section on making Laudato Si’ more accessible to younger generations. The inspiration for this guide came from the Archdiocese of Atlanta who wrote a document titled, An Action Plan for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta.