Restoring God’s Earth: The Nativity Solar Project

By: Carl Sigel

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

For the past several years, Church of the Nativity has been systematically working to reduce our carbon footprint. Why are we called to do this, and how are we doing it?

As to why? First, in Stephanie’s words, “At Church of the Nativity we believe that our faith in Jesus, our reverence for the earth, and our service to others are deeply woven together in our life of faith. We seek a connection to God through our connections with one another, through caring for the natural world, and through an examination of our interior life”.

Second, we are called to take action by the growing body of evidence that indicates that the earth is warming, that life on earth is suffering, and human activities that pollute the air are contributing to the crisis. By lowering our carbon footprint, we can effectively help to reduce the pollution in the air.

As to how we are doing it? In 2010, as a first step on our journey to lower our carbon footprint, we applied for a free energy audit from North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, From the results of the energy savings analysis, Nativity developed a step wise plan to be implemented as resources were available to become more energy efficient and utilize renewable energy to the greatest extent possible.

This past summer, a more efficient zonal heating and cooling system was installed in Estill House. In September our vestry accepted a proposal from Southern Energy Management, and Nativity now has a contract to install a 31.80 kW Solar PV system on the south facing roof of the Education Building. This system has the capacity to generate about 35% of the electricity utilized on our campus. The power will be used in both our Education Building (Curry Hall) and Estill House.

As determined by using the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalence Calculator, the environmental impact for the Nativity Solar Project over 30 years will be 1,729,641 pounds of carbon offset, which is equivalent to 20,117 tree seedlings being planted or 1,867,981 miles not driven.

The solar installation started on January 15, 2018.