US archdiocese sells properties for carbon-neutral project

properties sold for carbon-neutral project

Four properties owned by the Archdiocese of Seattle and St James Cathedral have been sold and will be redeveloped by a company recognised for its long-term commitment to sustainable building.

The vision is to create an inspiring carbon-neutral community that enhances the future of Seattle’s First Hill neighbourhood while also supporting the mission of the Catholic Church.

“Creatively thinking about how we can better use our properties to achieve the mission of the church is exactly what we need to do as good stewards of God’s gifts,” Archbishop Paul D Etienne said in a March 29 statement announcing the sale.

“This significant project is an investment in the First Hill community and in our future, ensuring we can continue the good work of the Catholic Church,” he said.

The sales are an example of the archdiocese’s Catholic Real Estate Initiative which was announced last November.

The initiative focuses on redeveloping underused church buildings and land so resources and energy can be directed toward the church’s mission.

Global developer Westbank and its affiliate Creative Energy have partnered with Swedish Health Services on the project to redevelop the site.

Westbank plans to redevelop the properties over the next decade. They will create a series of high-rise residential buildings with more than 1,300 dwellings. These will be connected to an environmentally friendly energy system that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Swedish Health Services will divert excess heat from its First Hill Campus to an energy sharing platform as part of the project. Through this platform, Swedish will be able to share excess heat. This will become a source of heating for other buildings connected to the platform.

This heat exchange system will dramatically reduce the overall carbon footprint of the neighbourhood.

“We believe this project demonstrates the environmental values outlined in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. It also represents a strong commitment to the future of the First Hill neighbourhood,” said a letter to archdiocesan Catholics signed by Archbishop Etienne, Father Michael G Ryan (pastor of St James Cathedral) and Joe Schick, the archdiocese’s chief financial officer.

The proceeds from selling the ageing buildings, which are costly to maintain, will provide increased stability for the local church “so that we may continue to share Christ with others through outreach, evangelisation and key ministries,” the letter stated.


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