St. David’s, Austin, receives awards for environmental efforts

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin just completed a rigorous two-year effort to become the first church in Texas to achieve GreenFaith certification. Now, St. David’s has become the first house of worship in Austin to complete the Austin Green Business Leaders program and, in December, will be recognized as a Keep Austin Beautiful (KAB) Award winner for the Recycling and Waste Reduction category.

“I am so very pleased and grateful to those who have led us in this effort,” said the Rev. David Boyd, rector. “Being an environmentally conscious church is a fulfillment of our call to care for creation which God has entrusted to our care. I am proud that we have taken a role in leading others to be more faithful stewards of creation.”

For two years St. David’s worked to complete the GreenFaith certification criteria, which focuses not only on the physical “greening” of an institution’s operations, but also on education, spirituality, and justice. Programs have included film screenings and discussions of environmental films, a highly successful “eARTh Night” showcasing local artists, and becoming a National Wildlife Habitat.

Based on many already-implemented initiatives, St. David’s qualified as an Austin Green Business Leader by doing and/or implementing energy saving measures, including installing efficient lighting and appliances, subscribing to the GreenChoice renewable energy program with Austin Energy, and installing an Electrical Vehicle charging station in the parking garage. St. David’s also has installed low-flow water fixtures and xeriscaped grounds with native drought-tolerant plants (implementing an Integrated Pest Management Plan). St. David’s also provides the entire Austin community a local produce pick-up site for Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

The parish’s commitment to caring for creation began more than eight years ago when an Environmental Guild was formed to address issues such as recycling and waste reduction. Receiving the vestry’s and rector’s blessing, the Environmental Guild amassed a “Green Team” to include clergy, staff, and lay leaders, all of whom have been integral to the initiative’s success.

Recently, St. David’s was chosen the “2012 Recycling and Waste Reduction Winner” for enacting such measures as replacing plastic bags with fair-trade canvas bags, eliminating Styrofoam cups, focusing on electronic forms of communication to reduce paper consumption, making composting and extensive recycling the norm, and embracing eco-friendly concepts in day-to-day decisions. St. David’s will receive this award at a banquet later this year.

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