Step 1: The nucleus of a Green Team could include any (all) members who are enthusiastic and interested. It would be useful to include at least one or more members from all church boards, as follows.
- Property Management
- Christian Education
- Church Family Life
Missions can be the central driving force, with emphasis on the Social Justice, environmental, and climate change components.
Property Management might consider new practices for energy conservation, water conservation, landscaping, cleaning products, etc. Explore alternate energy sources, e.g. solar, heat pumps, etc., and request new energy audit from RISE. Many of these issues overlap with those of Missions
Church Family Life and Hospitality might emphasize better ways to reuse and recycle, and include composting. They might determine ways to publicize the church’s green commitments to both members and the broader community.
Education might consider how to integrate care and justice into its programming for all ages, within the church family and outside in the broader community. It is imperative to engage the youth in this effort.
Stewardship might work to maintain that our endowment and investments are in green programs and not in fossil fuels.
Deacons and Music can devote attention to the spiritual aspects of Conservation and Environmentalism, and the integration of biblical scriptures into the modern, and our daily lives.
A primary ingredient in this process is to find ways to touch the hearts of people, help them to see and connect at a meaningful level to the import of all this. It’s not the same approach for everyone…How to do this? Certainly a challenge, but hopefully worthwhile.
ACTION STEPS TO BECOME A GREEN CHURCH (modeled after the CT UCC website, https://www.ctucc.org/greenchurch)
Italicized comments in red below are my observations.
- Preach an environmental stewardship sermon annually. Probably need to introduce more frequently (read Jim Antal’s book, former Conference Minister, CLIMATE CHURCH, CLIMATE WORLD; Rev. Antal suggests two climate sermons per month; https://www.jimantal.com/book)
- Book/bible study on stewardship of creation. Have done, but not with regularity.
- Form a Church Green Team Absolutely, top priority
- Show environmental films. Have done and should continue. Also ran a 3 session workshop on Climate Change. Our church has sponsored several events presented through the RI Interfaith Power and Light (https://rieea.org/ri-interfaith-power-and-light/#).
- Add green elements to Sunday school and youth group curriculums definitely need to get the youth involved
- Include green column in church newsletter
- Invite environmentally focused speakers. Have done in past, and should do more in future.
- Assist members in reducing junk mail, catalogs, etc.
- Examine energy use by church, and make a plan to reduce. Have new and updated RISE evaluation (https://www.nationalgridus.com/RI-Home/Energy-Saving-Programs/Home-Checkups-Weatherization).
- Keep heating/cooling coils and equipment in good condition.
- Make conservation/environmental resources available to members. Have sponsored workshops on going solar, recycling, composting, etc.
- Recycle paper, bottles, cans. Yes, but expand and improve efficiency. Encourage home use as well.
- Put office machines on power strips, and unplug seldom used appliances.
- Reduce hot water temperature to 120 degrees.
- Install and use programmable thermostats. At least some done. May revisit for upgrades.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL’s. At least some done. May revisit for upgrades.
- Insulate, weather strip windows, doors, pipes, water heaters, etc. Need to collaborate with Property Management, here and on a number of other issues.
- Shift church communications from paper to electronic. In progress.
- Shift to reusable dishes, utensils in church. In progress.
- Install low energy LED exit and emergency lighting signs.
- Ban Styrofoam from church use. In progress.
- Install energy efficient fluorescent lights/ballasts.
- Institute walk, bike, carpool to church days
- Shift to organic lawn-landscape care.
- Shift to environmentally sensitive cleaning products.
- Develop a car pool system for church activities.
- Obtain an energy efficient audit. Previously done, need to update with RISE (Rhode Island Saving Energy)
- Establish a community garden at the church. Some of us helped establish a community garden at Broad Rock School years ago; some members continue to participate in the garden. Perhaps we could make a garden at east end of church property. If so could serve as an educational project for our youth, and the Montessori school.
- Replace old heaters, furnaces, air conditioners.
- Buy energy star appliances.
- Install low-flow water fixtures, or tank less water heaters.
- Install solar hot water heaters, or heat-pump driven.
- Replace inefficient windows/doors.
- Advocate for local/national energy efficient energy programs.
- Assist members to use green methods in their homes and businesses.
- Join with other sustainability groups to facilitate community action advocacy.
- Share your ideas with others in the UCC contact conference newsletter.
- Plant trees to capture carbon and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Review church investments for environmental impact.
- Install photovoltaic panels for electricity. Might be suitable for the south facing roof on the education wing (this is not very visible from ground level). Need to preserve historical aspects of the church.
- Explore conversion to heat pumps.