First Baptist of Austin is one of the “greenest” churches in central Texas.
The church achieved the city of Austin’s Green Business Leaders Program platinum certification award, which was presented to the congregation at the end of February.
An environmental action team was established by the congregation in 2008, which has worked with staff and membership to create a more sustainable approach to ministry.
Chris Searles, a member of the green team who has a professional background in green business, initiated the certification process.
The certification process involved implementing and documenting initiatives in seven areas of environmental concern – energy efficiency, water efficiency, sustainability education, resource efficiency, innovative transportation, healthy work environment and community stewardship.
To achieve platinum status the church emphasized recycling, initiated environmental education efforts and implemented energy-efficient upgrades, among other projects set forth in a list provided by the city.
Many of these initiatives saved the church money.
First Austin’s efforts were in response to the Austin Interfaith Environmental Network (IEN) encouraging its member congregations to implement green initiatives.
The church’s actions were inspired by Genesis 2:15, which instructs humans to care for creation and Psalm 65, which speaks of God’s care for the earth, Searles noted.
Of the 52 businesses and organizations that received this certification, only two were local churches – First Austin and St. David’s Episcopal.