November 27, 2019

South Pacific Division Headquarters Reaping Benefits of ‘Going Green’

Tracey Bridcutt, Adventist Record

The South Pacific Division (SPD) headquarters at Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia, has saved close to AU$100,000 (about US$70,000) on photocopying and booklets since introducing a paperless meeting system, a report to the division’s year-end meetings recently revealed.

According to the Secretariat Report, presented at the meetings in mid-November 2019, more than 600 people are now using Convene paperless meeting software around the SPD. It provides users with digital access to meeting agendas, presentations, and reports. Voting is also conducted online. The software was introduced at the division office in 2016.

Paperless meetings are among several initiatives introduced to not only save costs but to reduce the SPD’s environmental impact.

Division general secretary Lionel Smith said that when God created humans, He entrusted them with the care of His creation.

As part of the regional headquarters’ environmental push, plastic plants have been replaced with living varieties. [Photo: Daniel Kuberek, Adventist Record]

“Unfortunately, the impact of sin is de-creation, and all around us we see evidence of that with destruction, devastation, and death,” Smith said. “We still, however, have been entrusted as God’s stewards to care for others, ourselves, and the environment. Part of this stewardship role is to be responsible for the way we use resources and to be focused on processes and ways to minimize damage to the environment while utilizing new technologies to further advance the mission of the church in preparing people for Christ’s soon coming. By doing so, we are both honoring God as Creator and God as Savior.”

The SPD’s People Services department has been especially proactive in taking steps to reduce its environmental footprint by banning plastic water bottles and single-use plastic cups for meetings and events they host. Recycling has increased, and staff are encouraged to use a “keep cup” for hot drinks instead of disposable cups.

They are also encouraged to reduce travel where possible and use video conferencing instead. The department has removed all plastic plants and replaced them with living plants to clean the air and promote wellbeing. Another project that will soon launch is giving all new employees a reusable water bottle on their first day.

“The team in People Services believes we have a God-given responsibility both individually and corporately to care for all that He has created,” People Services general manager David Potter said. “Some of the things we are doing may seem trivial or insignificant, but by taking action, the team is more aware of and committed to being good stewards and are now always on the lookout for other initiatives to reduce our environmental impact.”

LED lighting, which, according to reports, is up to 80 percent more efficient than traditional lighting, is being introduced as part of a refurbishment of the headquarters offices in 2020. Investigations are also underway into solar energy options.

In addition to these initiatives, the SPD contributes almost AU$500,000 (about US$340,000) per year to maintaining and regenerating bushland on the nearby Wahroonga Estate.

Leaders shared that ACA Health Benefits Fund, which operates from the SPD office, is also working toward paperless communication by using email where possible to connect with members instead of paper and postage.

The original version of this story was posted on the South Pacific Division news site.