UU Congregation of Atlanta Receives 2009 Energy Star Award

Press Release

One of only five facilities to receive the prestigious Energy Star award in 2009 in the category of Houses of Worship,  the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta (UUCA) is also the first UU congregation and the first congregation in Georgia to receive this award.

The Energy Star Award is a national conservation award developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  to recognize excellent energy performance by building type. Energy Star ranks facilities from 0 to 100 based on their energy and water consumption. In order to receive an award, the facility must be in the 75th percentile or higher (i.e. at least 75% of facilities use more energy than we do). Many consider the Energy Star Award more prestigious than LEED NC certification since it is based on actual energy consumption rather than projected energy savings.

The Energy Star Award confirms the sound sustainability decisions UUCA has implemented in the last ten years. The “Building the Vision” campaign in 2002 and the “Finish the Job” campaign in 2005 transformed our energy inefficient building completed in 1965 into a national leader in sustainable design.  Our renovated facility with the 3,000 square-foot office addition uses less than half the gas required to heat the original building and substantially less electricity.

This national award and the efforts behind it are part of a focused sustainability initiative in the congregation which has entailed exploring the nature of sustainable living. This initiative is not just about the environment: it honors all four points of the sustainability compass simultaneously: nature, economy, society, and personal well-being.

It’s about learning and using the language of sustainability,” says Senior Minister Rev. Anthony David, ” and it IS a second language.”

“We’ve got to think bigger and more systemically. We’ve got to look for solutions that honor the environment even as they grow the economy, create a more just world, and strengthen our individual lives.”

To learn more about UUCA’s 2009 Energry Star Award visit their building profile.

Kittitas Valley UU Congregation participates in the first city-operated solar electric facility

One of the major barriers of moving to sustainable energy sources in the US is the start-up costs.  Gary Nystedt, a resource manager for Ellensburg, WA, came up with a way to bring solar power to the city in a way that the start-up costs could be defrayed.  Nystedt suggested that the city build the country’s first community solar project, or “solar garden,” in 2006.  The city-owned solar installation would feed right into the city’s grid but would be financed like a cooperative, open to anyone who wanted to invest.  Because Ellensburg, the town, gets more that 300 sunny days a year and already owned a sunny spot of land next to a major highway (an added advantage is that the site allows for free advertisement of solar power to 15,000 drivers every day).

Kittitas Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, through a drive by the Green Sanctuary council, purchased a panel on the city’s solar grid.  KVUUC also completed many recommendations from their professional energy audit.  The result of these projects was a savings of 60% of the electricity bills during the winter months for the building, which generated kudos from the building owner as well as the congregation.  Additionally, their electric bill is now reduced by an amount proportional to the energy generated by the purchased solar panel.

Towson UU Church Wins Cool Congregation Prize from Interfaith Power & Light

Interfaith Power and Light Press Release, July 20, 2010

Andrée Duggan (for IPL)                                          Carel Hedlund (for Towson UU Church)
andree at theregenerationproject dot org                cthedlund at msn dot com

“Towson UU Church Wins Cool Congregation
Prize from Interfaith Power and Light

Interfaith Power and Light announced the winner of this year’s Cool Congregation contest. Towson Unitarian Universalist Church (TUUC), in Lutherville, Maryland, accepted the $5,000 cash prize for the most reduction in energy use. Carel Hedlund, Chair of TUUC’s Green Sanctuary Committee, said, “our actions focused on three areas: energy efficiency of our building, educating our members on ways they could make changes in their own lives to reduce their individual footprints, and participating in energy efficiency community projects. We are very excited and grateful to win this prize. Our Board has voted to place the award funds into reserves for further ‘greening’ of the church.”

The Cool Congregation contest challenged participants to calculate a starting carbon footprint, and then compare a year later after making energy saving changes to measure total reductions. The contest was open to approximately 10,000 congregations nationwide. “We wish to congratulate Towson Unitarian Universalist Church for being good stewards of Creation,” said The Reverend Sally Bingham, president of Interfaith Power and Light. “They have demonstrated a real commitment to making their congregation as energy efficient as possible and in the process have provided a wonderful role model for other congregations wishing to address the threat of climate change.”

First Parish in Needham receives EnergyStar Award

(Boston, MA – June 16, 2010) EPA Press Release

“First Parish in Needham Unitarian Universalist is the first house of worship in New England to receive an EPA Energy Star label, an energy efficiency standard that certifies that they are in the top 25 percent of houses of worship in the United States. First Parish in Needham is one of just nine houses of worship in the country to receive the label.

“First Parish in Needham has successfully accepted the challenge of dealing with energy issues and sets a terrific example for the many houses of worship across New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “We hope more small businesses and congregations across New England states will follow their lead and maximize energy efficiency opportunities in their own operations.”

First Parish was founded in 1711, and is considered Needham’s oldest religious community. Its public meeting house was built in 1836 and is the oldest public building in Needham. In 2007-8, the church replaced its old Parish Hall with an environmentally progressive building that is 25 percent larger than the old hall. Despite the increase in size and addition of air conditioning units, the new building has reduced the parish’s utility costs by more than 50 percent and reduced its carbon footprint up to 43 percent, according to Ed Quinlan, Property Committee Chairman.