A Green Community Catalyst

Submitted by Lucy Cummings
A Green Community Catalyst
(Photo : Courtesy Lee Ann Hogle)

As much of our national climate conversation focuses on the negative, we often forget that this crisis is also an opportunity to create a better world. St. Paul’s United Church in Magog, Que., is an example of folks working together to save the planet while acting as a catalyst for a stronger local green economy.
In 2018, the church’s furnace, in this case a gas-powered steam furnace named Betsy, was given a year or so to live. While Betsy had done her job admirably for many years, her disrepair could result in a sanctuary closing. The options looked bleak. The use of steam or hot water to heat the sanctuary was no longer considered a viable option as the repair and replacement costs were close to $100,000.
At the suggestion of a trusted local contractor, St. Paul’s United discovered a Quebec-based company – EcoRad — that converts cast iron steam radiators into stand-alone electric units. The benefits were numerous: cast iron radiators are excellent heaters; reusing the radiators would keep them out of the landfill; and conversion from gas to electric would decrease the Church’s carbon footprint.
This option was also considerably more affordable than the alternatives. The total cost of $37,200 was paid for with a United Church of Canada “Faithful Footprints” grant, fundraising efforts and $1,800 worth of volunteer labour.
Ultimately, the greening of the St. Paul’s United congregation was a team effort. Rev Lee Ann Hogle worked with the church’s “Green Team” to not only investigate the options
and help with energy management, but to also support the furnace conversion itself.
“We are proud to support a Quebec-based green tech company and know we can work with them to make sure the heating system works well,” said trustee Garth Fields.

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