Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eco Church in the Spec

Church keen to lower its energy costs - Local - Church keen to lower its energy costs

Daniel Bird
Special to The Hamilton Spectator

(Dec 26, 2008)

The stained glass windows of Melrose United Church have brought light to worshippers for decades. They are now bringing something else in -- the cold.

No one knows how to fix the windows, said church member Mathew Xagoraris, but something will have to be done. Fixing the windows is part of a plan at the church on Homewood Avenue to save money by conserving energy. Other changes include replacing a 20-year-old industrial refrigerator for about $3,000.

In April, an environmental auditing company scoured the old stone building to find features that are driving up heat and hydro bills. The church is waiting for the results.

Saving cash isn't the only reason behind the push to cut energy use. "Reducing your personal footprint on the Earth is very much in line with religion and spirituality," Xagoraris said.

The church is also offering advice to members about cutting energy costs in their homes. Last month, about 50 people learned over breakfast how to fix a drafty house and cut their heating bill in half.

Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko is project manager for Environment Hamilton, a nonprofit group that put on the workshop. She said it is talking with 60 other faith groups about setting up similar programs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Faith and Sustainability

Faith and Sustainability?

In a recent interview with Brain Vyn, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo (Theology), I was asked what my understanding of sustainability is. Immediately the idea of 'giving strength to----over a long period of time' came to mind.

Most of all, the idea of living within limits-creating boundaries so that we can support and nourish the planet for future generations- was foremost in my reply.

I was asked in what way faith groups can help make the transition from a destructive consumerist society to a sustainable one. I had a ready answer.

Faith groups have the advantage of already being organized units that share a commonality over the board- that is to honour and respect the Earth and the Creation.

Religions and spiritual philosophies all over the world have a long-standing tradition of ecological stewardship.

The answer then to his question is simple-follow the teachings of your faith. There should not be a problem.

Traditionally, faith groups have concerned themselves with social justice issues; now is the time to see the predicament of climate change as a social justice issue and act upon that. It's time to prioritize climate change in what ever context you feel most comfortable with.

Other ways that faith groups can help motivate their congregations is to include eco- tips in church bulletins. Every service, include a call to stewardship. At every service, set up a table with information about what individuals can do together or alone to move towards to sustainability and conservation.

Environment Hamilton offers free workshops on energy conservation for example. If one is being offered at your church or synagogue- show up. Set an example. Use our energy meters at home with your kids to show them how much energy appliances use.

Get involved. Conduct do- it -yourself audits on your homes and in your faith groups. Share your experiences and skills. Commit to one thing at a time (start with the energy planner we have made available to you). Educate your selves. Take responsibility.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Powered down Service-candle light service.

We are reaching out to over 40 faith groups in an effort to make this part of a Hamilton tradition. Contact me for more information if your faith group is interested in participating!

Powered down Service-candle light service.

Power down this holiday and light up your service with candle light.

What can your faith group do to conserve energy this holiday? Consider turning off the lights and having a candlelight service! Religions and spiritual philosophies all over the world have a long-standing tradition of ecological stewardship. A candle light service is a beautiful way to honour this sacred message.

Please sign up your faith groups and Join faith groups across the Hamilton area for one hour (your choice as to when) to symbolize your commitment to reducing energy use and promoting conservation and sustainability.

If you need a poster to advertise the event we will provide you with one. Let's make Hamilton a city of eco-faith groups!


Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko

Project Manager

Environment Hamilton

905 549 0900

Maker's Market at Christ Church Cathedral

Yesterday, Dec 6th, I attended the Maker's Market at the Christ Church Cathedral. I handed out over 80 energy conservation planners and 50 energy saving kits to holiday shoppers as they came into the cathedral to buy their locally made arts, crafts and foods. A very fitting event for our Energy Awareness Initiative- we plan to continue this as a partnership, since their position is to encourage local sustainability and community as much as possible- which is in line with our goals.
It was fun talking to up to 20 people directly about energy saving in the home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Energy Workshop

Dec 3rd:
Another workshop. Since the turn out was so small, we not only presented the workshop but we took the opportunity to brainstorm on how to engage congregation members. We decided to try approaching the men's group, to have a table set out for the end of services, and to arrange bus energy meter demonstration for the youth component. Looking forward to trying these ideas out!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Energy Saving Kits at the Fair

Marisa and I gave away 50 energy kits and home 70 energy conservation planners at the Melrose United Church's Christmas Bazaar this weekend (Nov 22nd).
Volunteer Christine C gave away 40 kits at St Joesph's Catholic Church this same day.
Las week volunteer Joe M handed out another 10.
Not bad at all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Another successful Dave Braden House Tour Nov 16th. Over 25 people attended and many took information about EH's projects.
Eco House Tour was not so popular (the weather?) with only 5 people in attendance. Hopefully more next time.
We are gearing up for the Christmas season and that means church bazaars and fairs! Contact me for more information.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Energy Workshop For Older Homes

November 8th:
We hosted this workshop with Melrose Breakfast (Melrose United Church).
We had a full house- with over 45 people in attendance to listen to how they can conserve energy at home, what they can do to improve the airtightness of their houses ( Dave Braden).
We had Mike Morse from Nith Valley Solar give a presentation about the ins and outs of PV alternatives.
We handed out 20 energy saving kits and 40 Energy Conservation Planners along with many other hand out materials.
All in all, an exciting morning with a scrumptious breakfast!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Workshop October 24th-report

Westdale United church: a low attendance again but the peopled who showed up formed a really dynamic and interested group with great questions that I have yet to find answers to. 2 people were interested in the Peaksaver program and I person took home an energy meter.Not bad in a group of 6 people.
Now how can we get more people out to the workshops?
We are invited to have a table at their Christmas festival Nov 22nd.

Monday, October 20, 2008

True City Forum-October 16th

The question continues to be how do interest people in the care of the environment? Greg Reader of True City asks how can Christians begin to see their role as care takers of the Earth as suggested in the Bible?
Traditionally, Christians have been concerned with social justice issues: can we build on this concern to include the environment and conserving it as a social justice issue as well? The ones who suffer the most from environmental degradation are the ones who are economically poorest.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Second Workshop-Oct 14th at St Joes Catholic Church

A low turn out (8) but a very keen, enthusiastic group. I Had 3 people take energy meters, and I person sign up for the PeakSaver program.
I was told the turn out was low due to Thanksgiving Weekend and not the elections!
Anyway, I am invited back at their Coffee Sunday to hand out planners and energy saving kits.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A crude Awakening a St Joes

A whopping audience of 60 people showed up for the screening of A Crude Awakening two night ago at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Thanks to our volunteer Richard Reble who organizes the screenings. See the schedule (events) for other Peak Oil screening locations around the city.

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Workshop

We had our first Energy Awareness workshop yesterday 23rd September. There was a low turn out but the people who came (8) where enthusiastic and a very interested, tight group.

They plan to do the energy planners and meet in two weeks. They are committed to extending the planners to other congregation members as well as hand out free energy saving kits to those who take the planners.

We are looking into starting a youth action component who can take these planners home to there families.
Our new Canada World Youth Student Marisa will be helping with this.

Of the 8 that attended 2 took the energy meters home and plan to make a report up.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Energy Awareness Initiative

Tuesday September 22nd
First Unitarian Church
Learn have to conserve energy in the home,use an energy meter, plan energy saving action and act on it, see a short film on weatherstripping, learn about home energy audits from the pros as well as and receive a free energy saving kit. Also, learn about the Peak$aver and Great fridge roundup programs offered by Horizon Utilities.
Contact Beatrice at

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Upcoming Events

Energy Awareness Initiative:
September 23rd at 7pm
First Unitarian Church

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Peak Oil Screenings

Our volunteer Richard Reble will screen the film A Crude Awakening at these locations:


Mon., Sept. 29- St. Joseph’s Catholic Church-Peak Oil

Tues., Sept 30 (7:00 p.m.)- Sky Dragon


Tues., Oct. 7 (6:30)- Dundas Public Library- Peak Oil

Tues., Oct. 21 (12:00)- Central Public Library- Peak Oil

Tues., Oct. 21 (7:00)- Fifty United Church- Peak Oil

Wed., Oct. 22 (6:30 p.m.)- Red Hill Public Library- Peak Oil

Thurs., Oct. 23 (6:30)- Terryberry Public Library- Peak Oil


Thurs., Nov. 6 (6:30 p.m.)- Saltfleet Public Library

Dave Braden Super Energy Efficient House Tour

Another successful tour. We have had four this past summer (June 29th,July 22th 27th and September 7th).
The Bradens continue to open their home to the public so expect more tours this fall. Dave explains how they have achieved outstanding energy savings and how these lessons can be applied in home renovations or in new home construction. The home is off-grid and illustrates home-based small-scale solar and wind energy production.
If you are a faith group, busing can be made available to your group at a minimal fee of $2 per person (depending on numbers).

Also available, tours of Green Venture's Eco-House, a renovated century home that illustrates environmental technologies to encourage, inspire and support the adoption of sustainable living practices and effective environmental home retrofitting.

Contact beatrice at 905 549 0900 for details.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Project Description

Hamilton faith groups are joining a world wide movement that addresses energy conservation, sustainability and climate change in their places of worship as well as in their homes.
This fall, Environment Hamilton launches an Energy Initiative for Faith Groups; a project that's geared at helping faith group members with their energy goals and concerns.

Many faith organizations recognize their role as 'Stewards of the Earth' and are increasingly seeking practical ways to implement these beliefs and encourage their members to do likewise. They seek to live in alignment with the planet, not exploit it but use it's gifts sparingly.

Our Energy Initiative will focus on energy conservation in the home and in the place of worship and renewable energy alternatives as part of the program.
We will continue to present environmental films as an introduction to the follow up workshop.

Energy conservation in the home
The workshop looks at a do-it -yourself energy audit at home. Using displays and a visual presentation the workshop will provide a range of practical energy-saving steps and direct people to the climate change calculator on the Environment Hamilton website:
A home energy conservation planner will be made available to congregation members whereby they will be able to plan and act on their energy conservation goals and share these with other team members.

Part of the presentation will provide training on the use of an Electronic energy meter to do a self-audit of home electricity use. To be able to actually see how much phantom energy is consumed just by leaving your television or microwave plugged in while not in use is a revelation unto it self!
A $15 deposit will be requested for the loan of an energy meters to individuals who agree to use them and complete a questionnaire on their findings and the changes they intend to make as a result. The money will be returned once the meter is returned.
We will provide a free Union Gas energy-saving kit as well as a package of materials on energy conservation to everyone who attends the workshops and/or commits to reducing their energy consumption.
We will direct interested individuals to complete professional home energy audits with Green Venture.

Renewable Energy Options
Dave and Cathy Braden's super energy-efficient Flambourough house tours continue; they explain how they have achieved outstanding energy savings and how these lessons can be applied in home renovations or in new home construction. The home is off-grid and illustrates home-based small-scale solar and wind energy production.

Available will be tours of Green Venture's Eco-House, a renovated century home that illustrates environmental technologies to encourage, inspire and support the adoption of sustainable living practices and effective environmental home retrofitting.
Busing for your faith group can be arranged upon request.

Also; We will continue filming churches that are undertaking conservation initiatives and we plan to hold a film screening of these films when the series is completed.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you are interested in participating in the project.

Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko
Project Manager
Environment Hamilton
905 549 0900

Funding for this project was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Energy's Community Conservation Initiative.

The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Ontario Ministry of Energy. Any errors are the authors' responsibility.