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1. Concillar process and Agenda 21

The Ecumenical Assembly in Graz recommended that the churches "encourage the development of a lifestyle which is directed toward sustainability and social justice". CEC and CCEE should also "participate in efforts aimed at sustainable economic life". And it is recommended that CEC and CCEE "support the Agenda 21 Process". Agenda 21 goes back to the conference on "Environment and Development" in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Agenda takes up many concerns initiated by the Conciliar Process for Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation.

2. Why Church Environment Management?

Ecological consciousness and good will are often present in the churches. However, the ecological improvements undertaken are not satisfactory due to lack of information and of clarity as to who is responsible. Here is where the introduction of an environment management system can help. The European Union and the International Standards Organisation (ISO) have developed methods which have been tested in the production economy and since then also in the area of services. Trials of these methods are just beginning in church organisations. In church and diaconal work, the sense of responsibility for the creation in daily life and the participation of employees and volunteers are central to these efforts.

See also our Seven Motivations for Environmental Action based on Christian teaching, which we produced at the ECEN Loccum Assembly in 1999.

3. What are the Benefits of Environment Management?

Systematic methods have potential for savings, as much with regard to resources as to finances. When many people co-operate in the process, it promotes a sense of community. It becomes clear that each participant makes a difference. This also improves the atmosphere of the workplace. The efforts at environment management demonstrate publicly that we are doing something and not just talking. This can be seen as the churches? contribution to local Agenda 21 processes. Finally, it offers the chance to require one's business partners to use ecological methods. Demand from churches helps promote ecologically friendly products and services.

4. What are the steps to be taken?

  1. The officers of a congregation or church institution agree on an environment inventory, a so-called eco-balance sheet, showing the areas of weakness and possibilities for improvement. All relevant amounts, such as the volume of rubbish and the level of energy use, are noted. The results are recorded in an ecology report.
  2. Ecological guidelines proposed by the employees' representatives or the business office are drafted, discussed and adopted by the officers. The ecological guidelines in use by the Evangelical Church of the Land W?rttemberg, Germany, offer an example of such guidelines. On these beginnings an environment programme is built up, with concrete, measurable goals and deadlines.
  3. The next step is the most important and hardest: setting up an environment management system. It calls for naming the persons who will be responsible and describing their competencies, the means at their disposal and the procedures to be used. All those working in the organisation are informed about the purpose, responsibilities and procedures. The agreements are recorded in a manual which is accessible to everyone, including the plans for procedures and lines of communication.
  4. At two- or three-year intervals, a check is made to see to what extent the goals are being met. Such "eco-controlling" enables the environment programme to continue to develop in accordance with the experience which is gained.
  5. The results of the measures taken are published internally and externally (environment communication).

5. Example of an environment management programme

In accordance with the ecological inventory and guidelines for the Services to Congregations office (of the Evangelical Church in the Land W?rttemberg, Germany), the following measures are to be discussed, and who what how is to be clarified, during the next two years.

5.1. Heating energy

  • discuss with the custodian the temperature setting and reduction of heat in less frequently used rooms
  • motivate users to economise, i.e. turn down thermostats during long absences, open windows only to air out a room
  • measure temperatures of rooms
  • install individual thermostats

5.2. Staff travel

  • send frequent users of cars to ECOdrive to learn to drive efficiently (30% energy saving is possible)
  • offer more advice on different ways to travel

5.3. Photocopying

  • copy on both sides and in reduced type size
  • buy paper with 80% recycled content

5.4. Rubbish

  • discussion with the cleaning service in the main building
  • write instructions for regular sorting of rubbish
  • contract with a recycling company for return of used toner and printer cartridges

5.5. Electricity

  • inform those working in the office about ways to save electricity
  • turn off office machines when not in use for a while
  • provide desk lamps

5.6. Water use

  • arrange for flow-limiting devices to be installed on taps
  • optimise flushing of toilets with minimum of water
  • have water pipes checked for leaks

5.7. Purchase of machines, office supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.

  • Organisation and Ecology Committee to write and circulate ecological buying guidelines (including energy consumption and recyclability)
  • checklist for choices and purchasing advice
  • survey suppliers with regard to eco-auditing
  • write agreed ecological measures into contract with cleaning service
  • investigate and possibly purchase printer cartridge refill machine

5.8. In-house eco-communication with the watchword "eco-motivation, not environmental asceticism"

  • regular information sharing in Monday bulletins and at staff days
  • information on bulletin boards and by e-mail
  • offer consultations and further education courses
  • have an ecology exhibition
  • sharing of experiences

5.9. External communication

Purpose: the Services to Congregations office raises its profile as an innovative organisation with regard to responsibility for the creation, for example by :

  • regular eco-tips in the newsletter to congregations
  • emphases in educational programme and consultations
  • study guides and study days, for example in connection with the "Seven Weeks Without - " campaign
  • Creation Day worship services jointly with other departments in the Land church office for a "Creation Day in the Church Year" offer guidelines for ecological shopping to outside publications/organisations
  • have an exhibition on the steps the Services to Congregations office took in making its "eco-inventory"
  • publish the Services to Congregations office's environment report.

6. For discussion: how do we move

  • from appeals to systematic management, i.e. sustainable economics in the concrete
  • from expensive environmental protection to actually saving money
  • from a group initiative to broad-based participation

7. Contacts

Christian Ecology Link (CEL), Great Britain,

Scottish Churches Energy Saving Scheme (now in operation for 20 years),

Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Umweltbeauftragten in der EKD (AGU) (Environmental Officers' Group in the Evangelical Church of Germany): Klaus Breyer, Dr Hans-Hermann Böhm

Evangelische Landjugendakademie Altenkirchen: Hans-Heiner Heuser

Kontaktstelle f?r Umwelt und Entwicklung (KATE) (Environment and Development clearing house): G?nter Koschwitz

8. Publications

EU ordinance on Voluntary Participation of Commercial Enterprises in a European Community System of Environment Management and Environmental Assessment, Brussels, 1993 and 1995

Church Environment Management, a pilot project in the Services to Congregations office for W?rttemberg, Stuttgart, 1997. Available from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in W?rttemberg,

Seven motivations for environmental action


Prepared as a concultation material for the meeting in Vilemov

Hans Hermann Böhm, 1998