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Catholic sisters living in a convent in northeast Washington, D.C., used to look out their windows at a big, empty field. Now they gaze out at a solar farm that, in spring, will have flowers blooming between the panels.

The convent sits on 14 acres of land owned by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. A few years ago, the group decided to use that property to make clean energy.

A five-acre solar installation now generates enough power to offset the electricity used at the group’s 12 buildings across D.C.

“So it’s driving substantial energy cost reductions to the tune of well over $300,000 a year,” says Page Gravely, president of Mission Energy.

The group helped plan and develop the project through a program called Catholic Energies.

In addition to installing solar panels, the team also seeded a pollinator meadow to attract bees and butterflies and to help absorb stormwater run-off.

Gravely says Pope Francis calls on all people to care for the Earth and reduce global warming.

“To utilize and harness the power of the sun to create clean energy is doing just that,” he says. “It’s a shining example of putting what you preach to practice.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media