Saint Francis of Assisi: rendering a religious community sustainable and circular


Fra’ Sole is a sustainability project involving the monument complex of Saint Francis of Assisi and its nearby forests, olive groves and vegetable gardens. The project has gained the support and endorsement of relevant firms in the Italian circular economy and ethical finance sectors in order to:

  1. Significantly reduce the environmental impact of the religious community and of the pilgrims visiting the site, ultimately aiming at total decarbonisation of the complex.
  2. Make the project replicable by drafting policies that might be applied to similar closed systems (schools, hospitals, jails, residential structures).
  3. Raise ecological awareness among visitors and pilgrims, while spreading good practices in terms of sustainability.

Stages of the project:

  • Shared strategical planning among the promoting organisations.
  • Technical analysis and reporting on:

a. Material flows
b. Energy flows
c. Procurement

  • Planning and implementing the best available solutions for the areas of intervention.
  • Drafting a project report and regulations to replicate good practices in similar closed systems.
  • Disseminating good sustainable practices among pilgrims and visitors.

The sustainability report for the project from 2017 to 2022 has been presented in Italian at Ecomondo 2023 in Rimini.

Main results
  1. Eliminating single-use plastic products at the religious community's events, replaced with biodegradable and compostable alternatives.
  2. Eliminating plastic water bottles by installing 8 water dispensers connected to the public water network.
  3. Introducing 200 waste separation points within the facility, thereby increasing segregated waste from 48% to 70%.
  4. Exploiting organic waste by installing a composting system.
  5. Supplying electricity from renewable sources.
  6. Installing a trigeneration plant (electricity, heat and cooling).
  7. Disseminating sustainability kits for pilgrims.
  8. The project has been recognised as a reference practice in the "Business model and innovation - sustainable building management" report section developed by UNI.