The real impact of going green and why we should care

Sustainable living, going green, solar powered, eco-friendly, energy efficient – different environmentally sustainable initiatives and terms seem to pop up regularly. It’s a challenge to keep up with the vocabulary, let alone understand the detail and jargon as well as the real benefit that can be provided.

We know it’s the right thing to do but how is it making a real difference?

Mark Mazzitello, the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s Manager Strategic Assets is over-seeing its sustainability plan, which has been endorsed by leaders across the organisation.

“There are a huge variety of environmental initiatives these days and even when you narrow it down to something specific like energy there are still many contract types and different accreditations. In fact, people can be quite sceptical,” Mr Mazzitello said.

“Like with many things in environmental sustainability you don’t necessarily see all the benefits today - it’s about planning for the future and that’s just as important,” he said.

Pope Francis’ second encyclical letter, Laudato Si’ encouraged Catholics to think about this future and care for our common home. Pope Francis laments environmental degradation and global warming and calls all people of the world to take swift and unified global action.

The Diocese has acted and set targets around energy and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, water, waste and recycling, transport, biodiversity, sustainable design and more.

The plan set a target to deliver 100% renewable electricity across the organisation’s large sites.

Ray Bowen, Head of Property for the Diocese said, “We will achieve 100% GreenPower across all our agency sites from 1 July 2023. Many organisations are working towards this goal but we understand we’re the first Diocese in the country to be registered as having 100% Greenpower for our CatholicCare, St Nicholas, schools and Diocesan commercial properties.”

Operating 59 schools, 12 St Nicholas Early Education centres and many other community services and support offices, including some under construction - to have achieved 100% GreenPower is making a real difference.

Run by the NSW Office of Energy and Climate Change the GreenPower program independently audits electricity providers to make sure the right amount of renewable energy is fed into the grid on the customers’ behalf.

Mr Bowen said, “We chose GreenPower because we wanted a truly renewable resource. The purchase of GreenPower guarantees the electricity is coming from renewable energy sources that meet strict environmental criteria. We can be sure that the grid electricity our business is using has net-zero emissions.”

Another of the Diocese’s targets was set to reduce electricity consumption across schools. New LED lighting is progressively being installed in schools and at one primary school alone, there has been a 26% reduction in electricity.

But it’s not all reduced statistics and accreditations. Why should we really care, what’s the impact?

“At its core, sustainability is about being more efficient with our resources,” Mr Mazzitello said.

“We’ve been inspired by Laudato Si’ to make change and real impact.”

“With nearly 60 schools the impact of our lighting project alone is quite significant. Combined with the installation of PV solar across all schools, further efficiencies will be gained. This means each school has the potential to see reduced operating costs and those savings can be channelled to additional education programs.”

“The real intent means we’re supporting our students and reducing our demand on the grid by up to 25% in many Diocesan communities. This is good for the environment but really helps people too, particularly in rural areas. As resources become reduced there’s no doubt we’re doing our bit to contribute to the stability on the future grid.”

Read more in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland Newcastle’s Sustainability Plan on our website.

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