Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tending creation was the first job God gave us

Baptist Temple's solar array
The Lord God took the man
and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:15

God made the world and it was good. He gave it to humanity to tend. A task for which we get mixed reviews.

On this 48th Earth Day I reflect on the environmental impact of Baptist Temple on our community and our planet. Our campus has 80,000 square feet on almost 3 acres of inner city property. That is a lot of concrete, brick and asphalt.

Certainly we have high energy bills. First we attempted to reduce energy use by turning off lights that weren't in use and shutting off the AC during the week. That turned out to be very difficult. CPS Energy performed an audit and determined that replacing the lights with more energy efficient models would be cost prohibitive. Instead we decided to make better use of our building by sharing our facilities. While this did not reduce our actual energy usage, we became more efficient by hosting multiple entities on our campus. Six churches that might otherwise be using up energy in a building used only a few hours a week, share space instead, on a campus that is busy all week. We all contribute towards expenses.

All this activity created a lot of garbage, so we received a second dumpster for recyclables that is picked up once a week. This is a cost savings for us and keeps a dumpster load of cardboard, plastic and metal out of the landfill.

Our thrift store also helps to keep items out of the landfill. We offer gently used clothes at nominal prices (.10 – 2.00) to everyone. Proceeds help support our food pantry and other community ministries.

While we can't replace all of our lights at once, we upgrade whenever our lights need to be replaced. Our new exterior lighting uses less energy while producing more light. This saves money and makes our parking areas safer

The move that has made the biggest environmental impact on our community is the solar panels on our rooftops. We leased roof space to a company that sells the collected energy to CPS. We are compensated with a modest credit to our energy bill. While not financially lucrative for us, it carried no risk for us and helps make San Antonio less dependent on fossil fuels.

Another recent earth friendly project is our community garden. Sixteen 4x8' raised beds produce vegetables for our food pantry. Additionally we have an orchard with four grapefruit trees, three tangerine trees, three pecan trees and a peach tree. Our primary goal is to teach people of all ages gardening techniques that are sustainable in an urban environment. Growing some of our own vegetables improves our health and reduces the need for industrial farming.

Future plans include changing our suburban style landscaping to a low-water-need xeriscape, a water catchment system and increasing our composting. It our hope that we can model practices that are both earth-friendly and money-saving to neighborhood churches, businesses and families.

To the Lord your God belong the heavens,
even the highest heavens,
the earth and everything in it.
Deuteronomy 10:14

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