Building a Sustainable Church

God shaped the world so that natural systems render no waste. One organism’s waste is another organism’s food – this is the mystery that we, humans, have yet to crack – a simple yet beautiful order to all things that has allowed us to thrive as a species before time was even a thought.

Though through time we have slowly moved away from this sustainable model of life. That doesn’t mean it is too late to turn things around. In fact, it is our duty now, more than ever, to preserve the divine order of all things that God willingly put in our hands. 

Sustainable Churches? Absolutely. 

What better way to foster the preservation of God’s creations than by building a sustainable place of worship? Here are a couple of ideas to spark something great (and more importantly green) when planning your next project:

Setting matters.

Designing for place is very important when thinking about building a church (or any structure for that matter). Not only does it take environmental, societal, and economic aspects into account, but it also helps free up common roadblocks such as lack of access to local building materials, lack of community engagement, and lack of local economic enrichment.  Choosing the right setting for your project can go a long way toward helping the environment as local materials and labor supports the surrounding economy while mitigating the need for excess resources to be exhausted. 

Mimicking Nature.

This process, also known as biomimicry, can minimize costs and boost efficiency. For example, just as butterflies utilize nano-sized scales to repel dirt and stay clean, building exteriors can be coated with a protective layer that reduces the need for maintenance and extra spending.  Another common example of biomimicry is solar panel technology that converts solar energy into usable energy – the same way that plants utilize photosynthesis to covert the power of the sun into chemical energy. Not only is this type of energy clean and green, but it is also cost-efficient in the long run. 

Passive Design.

By reducing or removing the need for simulated climatic systems such as air conditioning, heating, lighting, etc., this type of design model is the textbook example of sustainability.  Examples of this include harnessing prevailing winds in a way that cools the interior of a structure, integrating natural desiccants to remove humidity, building acoustically efficient spaces to reduce/remove the need for speakers and other electronics, and incorporating vegetative roofing to deflect heat in the summer and retain warm air in the winter.  All of these design elements can work to reduce overall costs and minimize your Church’s carbon footprint.

Take a Stand.

Buildings have been telling God’s stories for thousands of years.  Now, it is our job to preserve the world that God gave to us by incorporating the organic processes that we were created from into the things that we create with our own hands.  By building a church in accordance to the diverse, natural systems that show the balance between life, death, and growth, congregants are more likely to take these practices home with them and realize how invaluable they are to the future of our planet.