St. Mark Presbyterian Newport Beach has long had a commitment to “Caring for Creation,” and this became an integral part of who we are in the 1990s, when our Ecophilians Environmental Group was formed by members LaRae and Bob Parry. They also launched the annual Parry Environmental Scholarship, open to college and graduate school students who are interested in environmentally-related careers, and demonstrate an understanding of the relationship of their religious faith to the environment. St. Mark is certified as an Earth Care Congregation by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)’s Environmental Ministries. To become an Earth Care Congregation, St. Mark affirmed the Earth Care Pledge to integrate environmental practices and thinking into all facets of its church life. It also completed projects and activities in the fields of worship, education, facilitiies and outreach. St. Mark is also the first church in the United States to enroll in the Audubon International Signature Program, which designates a project as a “green” Low Impact Development. In addition to the use of recyclable paper products and recycling Sunday bulletins, numerous actions have been taken to ensure that St. Mark is as eco-friendly as possible, including:
- Use of native plants to reduce water consumption, eliminate pesticides, and protect a diversity of wildlife.
- Maintenance and replanting where needed of the coastal sage gnatcatcher habitat.
- Certification from the National Wildlife Federation that the wildlife access corridor in the canyon has been retained.
- State-of-the-art irrigation by a porous tubing system that prevents runoff from the church site.
- A water capture system to remove oil runoff from the church parking lot.
- Use of plant material filtration to clean drainage and runoff water that flow through the site.
- Flow control to regulate the amount of water that returns to the nearby Big Canyon stream.
- Use of local and regional manufactured materials.
- Daylight and views in 90 percent of building spaces to reduce lighting needs.
- Limited use of air conditioning.
- Waterless urinals.
- Very low floor area ratio of buildings to land.
- Planting of 530 trees throughout the property.
Some of the native plants found on our Newport Beach church campus and in the adjacent Canyon Nature Preserve include sycamore trees, elderberry, coastal sage scrub, California poppy, Indian hawthorn, tall fescue turf grass, pine, and plants of Mediterranean origin chosen for aesthetic and functional reasons.