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Arlington parish harnesses sun, wind for renewable energy

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Parishioners at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington are looking skyward and windward with a goal of providing 100 percent renewable energy.

“The parish is the first and currently the only parish with solar panels,” said Michael Thornton, senior facilities manager with the diocesan Office of Planning, Construction and Facilities. “We hope many more will follow.” 

The 319 panels on the church, parish hall and rectory were installed by Ipsun Solar. They will provide more than 95 kilowatts of solar capacity and nearly 48 percent of the church’s energy for its buildings. According to an Ipsun Solar case study, “over its 25-year lifetime, the solar energy system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to keeping half a railcar of coal from being burned.”

Community members had an opportunity to learn more about the parish efforts at a Going Green event March 9. Panelists spoke about the climate crisis today, the response of the Catholic community, the response of the parish and where they can go from here.

Beyond the solar panels, the parish contracted with Arcadia Power for wind-generated energy.

The parish entered into an agreement with Arcadia that ensures that 50 percent of the energy used on the two buildings without solar panels is obtained through wind power at no cost, according to Luc DeWulf, a member of the Integrity of Creation Team.

The parish hall was remodeled last year with LED lighting, recycled materials in the flooring, carpeting made from plastic bottles, HVAC and eco-friendly insulation that will cut down on heating and cooling bills.

“We are trying to make environmentally conscious decisions,” said Spiritan Father Tim J. Hickey, pastor. 

The church renovations also included new flooring, LED lighting, pews, insulation and a higher ceiling.

The parish is actively going green. Over the course of three years, the Integrity of Creation Team prepared guided reflections for Lent based on the six chapters of Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home; banned single use plastic bottles; invested in washable bamboo dishes, reusable plates and cups, which were used at the event; growing an organic vegetable garden to supply to the weekly food pantry; and replaced appliances with smart energy appliances using sustainable materials and energy conserving systems. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019