Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., (CCADW) is going all-in when it comes to responding to climate change and living out Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’. CCADW announced today that the largest solar ground array and pollinator field project to-date in the District of Columbia will be built on their property and financially support their ministries throughout the DC region.
CCADW will host the 2-megawatt system comprising more than 5,000 panels. The system, being installed in partnership with IGS Solar and Catholic Energies will produce more than 2.7 million kilowatt-hours per year, nearly 100% of the current power requirements for Catholic Charities’ real estate portfolio across the city. The project is expected to offset nearly 3,400 tons of CO2 emissions per year. IGS will take ownership of and sell the renewable energy certificates (RECs) created from this project. The project also supports the mission of the Catholic Climate Covenant (CCC), which was formed in 2006 to address growing ecological awareness and the need to implement Catholic social teaching on ecology.
This solar project was created, developed and managed by Catholic Energies, a service of the CCC, which provides turnkey project development services and expertise as well as access to financial resources at no cost to Catholic organizations nationwide wishing to install solar power and other energy-efficiency equipment.
“We are proud to have this opportunity to take up Pope Francis’s call to action to protect our environment,” said Monsignor John Enzler, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. “Climate change is an urgent issue, and we are pleased that this project supports DC’s Sustainable DC 2.0 initiative by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and generating solar power. We look forward to working with IGS Solar, Solar Energy Services Inc. and Catholic Energies on this exciting development.”
Dan Misleh, executive director of Catholic Climate Covenant, said, “This project is a prime example of creative thinking by Catholic Charities. So many good things are happening here: lowering carbon emissions, saving money on electric bills, supporting vital services and being a witness to the wider faith community on the importance of caring for God’s good gift of Creation.” Misleh earned his bachelor’s degree at Xavier University—a Jesuit university located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Ignatian Solidarity Network member institution.
IGS Solar and its design/construction partner Solar Energy Services Inc. will build and operate the solar power system on approximately five acres of a site in Northeast Washington DC. The site will also continue to house The Gift of Peace Home operated by the Missionaries of Charity.
“All of us should be looking at ways to consume energy more responsibly and to protect the environment,” said Patrick Smith, vice president at IGS Solar. “We’re proud to partner with Catholic Charities ADW on this critical project to advance energy sustainability and promote responsible energy use.”
In addition, the project will include a five-acre pollinator meadow to support pollinator populations, such as bees and butterflies. About 650,000 pollinator and nectar-bearing flowering plants will be at the base of the solar panel array. By reinvigorating pollinator habitats through projects such as this, researchers hope to curb the decline of vital insect species and help bolster the agricultural industry.
“Making productive use of the land under and around ground-mounted solar farms is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create new acres of habitat for the butterflies, birds and nature that gives us a sense of peace,” said Rob Davis, director for the Center for Pollinators in Energy. “With plans for a beautiful new flowering solar park, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington are helping to grow this important national trend of pollinator-friendly solar.”
The Catholic Climate Covenant was founded in 2006 with the support of the U.S. Catholic bishops to encourage the U.S. Catholic community to better understand authentic Catholic teaching on climate change and the environment and offer programs and partnerships to spur action. Catholic Energies is a key Covenant program to help reach these goals. CE develops for Catholic institutions practical, turn-key solutions to lower energy costs, provide renewable energy, access financial resources for such projects, use operating cost savings for core mission activities, and be a witness to the wider community. The Ignatian Solidarity Network is a national covenant member of CCC.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington (CCADW) is the largest independent social services agency in the Metropolitan-D.C. area. As the charitable arm of the Archdiocese of Washington, CCADW invests in communities by providing critical services to hundreds of thousands of people in need throughout the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s Counties in Maryland. The organization works tirelessly to give help that empowers and hope that lasts to those it serves regardless of background, belief, or circumstance. For more information, visit catholiccharitiesdc.org. CCADW is a member of Catholic Charities USA whose members provide help and create hope to more than 10 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds.