Faith Communities Lead the Way on Energy Efficiency

Interfaith Power & Light is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s 10% Challenge, which is a united effort by diverse religious communities to address global warming by reducing their carbon footprint at least ten percent.

Approximately 250 congregations from thirty-eight states entered the 10% Challenge. Participants upgraded lighting along with heating and cooling systems; planted native trees and landscaping; and, inspired members to go green at home. “The Interfaith Power & Light energy audit really raised our awareness of HVAC and lighting issues and our overall carbon footprint,” remarked Sara Nutter of Winston-Salem Friends Meeting in North Carolina, one of the winners.

“These congregational activities demonstrate that people of faith are united by concern about climate change. They are also providing the antidote to the gridlock in the U.S. Senate, where a climate bill is languishing,” said Susan Stephenson, executive director of Interfaith Power & Light. Congregations usually start small and work their way up to greater and greater levels of energy efficiency and savings. Some even graduate to going completely carbon-free by installing solar panels or other renewable energy systems. “These congregations are strong moral examples for their communities. Their activities are having a ripple effect that might even reach policymakers in Washington, D.C. by showing that saving energy and using renewable energy is the right thing to do,” she continued.

Listed below are the five $1,000 prize winners chosen at random from the pool of congregations that successfully completed the 10% Challenge. Also listed, are the congregations that will receive a certificate from Interfaith Power & Light recognizing their achievement in completing the 10% Challenge. The activities associated with this year’s prize winners are representative of the dozens of great carbon saving projects that took place across the nation.

10% Challenge Prize Winners

Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation Earth Ministry
Atlanta, GA
Contact Dr. Sandra Adams, 770-919-2923

Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation Earth Ministry submitted a comprehensive Action Plan for fall 2010-spring 2011 that includes: environmental Sunday services; a stewardship project involving the planting of 10 threatened Eastern Hemlock saplings on its wooded campus; a rainwater capture project; installation of motion sensors on the lights; and solar panel array expansion. NWUUC has succeeded in raising funds for the purchase and installation of 20 panels of the 108 needed to become 100% energy self-sufficient.

Trinity Church Menlo Park
Menlo Park, CA
Contact: Ms. Lynn Pieron, 650-326-2083

Trinity hosted a “10/10/10 Energy Party” focused primarily on educating members and inspiring them to reduce their carbon footprint at home by ten percent. 10% Challenge t-shirts were worn, and a team helped homeowners think about their carbon footprint. In addition, Trinity is improving the efficiency of its two-acre campus this year. They installed a front-loading washer (CEE Tier 3); they have contracted for a three-building lighting retrofit; they are planning for proposed heating/cooling/structural upgrades; and they’ve added drought-tolerant landscaping.

Congregation Brith Shalom
Houston, TX
Contact: Daniel Cohan, 832-858-1390

Congregation Brith Shalom of Bellaire, Texas, has charted an ambitious course in fulfilling its 10% Challenge commitment. The synagogue created a Green Task Force aimed at greening its building and operations while engaging congregants in environmentally meaningful spiritual and educational programming. The resulting Green Action Plan developed by the Task Force and endorsed unanimously by the synagogue Board, elucidated a comprehensive vision for achieving those aims. The synagogue implemented major efforts that are dramatically reducing its energy use and carbon footprint. A building-wide lighting change-out replaced nearly all incandescent bulbs with LEDs, and T12, with T8 fluorescents. An inefficient commercial refrigerator was replaced with an EnergyStar 2.0 model. Further energy and carbon savings will likely be achieved by the more advanced controls installed to improve HVAC system performance.

First Parish Church, United Church of Christ
Brunswick, ME
Contact: Mary Lee Ward, 207-725-7352

At First Parish Church in Brunswick, Maine, they have just completed replacing a very large oil-burning furnace with two small natural gas furnaces. They expect energy savings of 30 to 40% in the educational building of the church, resulting in at least 10% energy savings overall. They also anticipate replacing light bulbs in their sanctuary with dimmable CFL’s within the next few months.

Winston-Salem Friends Meeting
Winston Salem, NC
Contact: Sara Nutter, 336-725-8801

Winston-Salem Friends Meeting has: installed programmable thermostats; raised air conditioning temperature settings and distributed paper fans; eliminated their automatic ice machine that was used only occasionally but ran continuously; reduced their weekly bulletin from a full-page to a half-page; posted their monthly newsletter on the website, eliminating most mailings; placed recycling containers for easy access; substituted coffee mugs for styrofoam cups; and their Pastor delivered a sermon with an environmental message. They have also evaluated and planned for changes in lighting, exit signs, and fluorescent tubes and are considering moving classrooms and meeting space to minimize energy use.

10% Challenge Certificate Recipients
Congregations that Successfully Completed the 10% Challenge

Scottsdale AZ      The Catholic Community of the Blessed Sacrament

Half Moon Bay CA     Holy Family Episcopal Church

Palo Alto CA      St. Thomas Aquinas

San Jose CA      Willow Glen United Methodist Church

Oakland CA      St. John’s Episcopal Church

Portola Valley CA      Christ Church Episcopal

Menlo Park CA      Trinity Church Menlo Park

San Diego CA      First Lutheran Church

Palo Alto CA      First Congregational Church

Lakewood CO      St Paul’s Episcopal Church

Boulder CO      St. Ambrose Episcopal Church

Manchester CT      Unitarian Universalist Society: East

Pinellas Park FL      Good Samaritan Church

Atlanta GA      Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Atlanta GA      Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church

Monroe GA      Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church

Berea KY      The Church of Christ, Union

Benton ME      Waterville Unitarian Universalist

Portland ME      Congregational Church in Cumberland

Phippsburg ME      Phippsburg Congregational Church

Steuben ME      First Congregational Church of Cherryfield, UCC

Rockport ME      First Universalist Church Rockland

Winthrop ME      United Methodist Church of Winthrop

Bar Harbor ME      Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth

Brunswick ME      First Parish Church, UCC

Kirkwood MO      Grace Episcopal Church

Winston Salem NC       Winston-Salem Friends Meeting

Manchester NH      Grace Episcopal Church

Morristown NJ      Morristown Unitarian Fellowship

Albuquerque NM      Partnership for Earth Spirituality

Albuquerque NM      Congregation Albert

Plainview NY      Good Shepherd Lutheran Church & School

Saugerties NY      Atonement Lutheran Church

Wynantskill NY      First Reformed Church of Wynantskill

Rocky River OH      Rocky River United Methodist Church

Worthington OH      Gethsemane Lutheran Church

Rumford RI      Newman Congregational Church, UCC

Houston TX      Congregation Brith Shalom

Graham TX      Graham First United Methodist Church

S Burlington VT      Ascension Lutheran Church

Seattle WA      Bethany Presbyterian

Milwaukee WI      All Peoples Gathering Lutheran Church