According to an article in the Toronto Star excerpted below,
A recently established religious initiative, "Greening Sacred Spaces," is helping faith communities across Canada answer both questions affirmatively.
A scion of the Faith and Common Good project (www.faith-commongood), started by United Church ministers Ted Reeve and Bill Phipps, Greening Sacred Spaces views climate change as a deeply spiritual issue, and strives to assist faith groups to move toward eco-friendly places of worship.
According to the group's website, "Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the well-being of our planet today, and as such represents a challenge to all people of faith."
The group cites predictions by the UN panel on climate change that by 2100, Earth's average temperature will have increased by 1.5 to 6 degrees Celsius, with that rate doubling in the Arctic.
It argues that "faith traditions are a key source of wisdom in the great spiritual quest of our time: Healing our beloved Earth. We believe that we are called to re-envision the way that we live."
With support from the Ontario Conservation Bureau and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, as well as the "sweat equity" of volunteers within the faith communities themselves, the project has developed a how-to resource kit, complete with workshops, posters, and music to help faith groups engage in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing sustainable living.
According to greening spaces co-ordinator Rory O'Brien, more than 100 faith groups, including Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Baha'i communities, have become involved in everything from retrofitting energy efficient light bulbs to entire environmental audits and eco-friendly architectural renovations, using the most advanced environmental technologies.
In addition to the actual greening of places of worship, the group hopes that faith communities will become leaders in advancing a more ecologically sensitive way of life, and will team up with activists to engage in local environmental initiatives.
O'Brien also notes that they hope to make the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System) standard a key component of any future design and architectural planning among faith groups in Canada. A showcase for this group is Toronto's St. Gabriel's' Catholic Church, the first Gold certified LEED church in North America.
Included in St. Gabriel's state-of-the-art green design features are a solar glass wall on the south face utilizing the energy of the sun. This creates a visual bridge connecting worshippers inside with a naturalized garden outside.