By Emily Kao, UUA Environmental Justice Intern

As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm the seventh principle, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part,” and understand the detrimental effects of our fossil fuel consumption and the resulting emissions, pollutants, and waste. Around the country UU congregations are taking steps to reduce their own CO2 footprints, use renewable resources, and change their consumption methods. These congregations, in partnership with the Green Sanctuary program, recognize the effect their energy consumption has on the environment and strive to lower their demand on Earth.

In 2007, the UU Society of the Daytona Beach Area pledged to reduce their use of non-renewable energy and thus their carbon footprint. Since then, the congregation has worked hard fulfilling that pledge. The church installed what was the largest and most complete solar energy system in Volusia County, consisting of a solar hot water system, two solar fans, and photovoltaic solar panels that produce 10kw of energy. With these and other electricity saving equipment and practices, such as turning off equipment and lights and reducing the use of air conditioning, the congregation has reduced its use of electricity by over fifty percent and increased members’ awareness of their energy consumption at the church and in their homes.

When the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut audited its environmental and environmental justice footprint, it found that many crucial opportunities to save energy had been missed. In the face of these findings, the congregation launched a campaign to change its usage and emphasize conservation. Under its Clean Energy Initiative, the church switched to purchasing all of its electricity from clean sources. Through the church’s example and education efforts, 105 families also demanded clean energy from their energy providers.