Houses of Worship/Congregational Church

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CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF NEEDHAM USING LESS & DOING MORE! Fall, 2009 – Summer, 2010

At the Congregational Church of Needham, the “Green Church Task Force” educates and inspires the congregation to care for God’s creation. Here are a few of our projects.

Care of our building: Our building manager arranged two energy audits, resulting in the free replacement of hundreds of light bulbs with more efficient bulbs, and the subsidized installation of several truckloads of insulation! Programmable thermostats in several zones help to minimize unnecessary heating. Our electricity consumption has dropped by about 15% and our heating oil consumption by about 10%.

10% Challenge: We sponsored and promoted our congregation's participation in the 10% Challenge, a web-based effort to help households reduce their energy consumption by 10% and more, designed by the Green Needham Collaborative (www.greenneedham.org/challenge.php). More than forty household plans have been submitted by members of the congregation, qualifying us for Silver level participation. If all participants implement their plans, we will be removing 260,840 lbs of CO2 from the atmosphere every year! Our goal is for 50 or more plans to be submitted.

International Day of Climate Action, October 24, 2009. We participated in an interfaith event to focus attention on Climate Change and 350 (the estimated sustainable amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, in parts per million), for the International Day of Climate Action - with a banner made by our middle school youth group, out of recycled materials. Then our team came to our church and worked to seal windows in our building, to reduce the loss of heat during the heating season.

Village Fair: We worked with Fair organizers to reduce the carbon footprint of our Fair by recycling cans and bottles, and to offer items made from "upcycled" materials. We presented a fun educational energy activity at the Fair: generating electrical power to light bulbs by pedaling a stationary bicycle, comparing CFL to incandescent bulbs. Even Santa tried it!

Coffee cups: After researching our choices we started using washable ceramic coffee cups (which the church already owned), instead of disposable cups during coffee hour.

Climate Change Café: In May, 2010, we held the first of a series of cafés after church, showing the powerful short film "Climate Voices" [It’s free on the web. Google it! Or go to www.goodplanet.org/en/climatevoices]. We led a discussion of the impact of climate change on people around the world, and the role of our church.

Walk/Bike to Church: We promoted walking or biking to church, highlighted by Walk-or-Bike-to-Church days during May and October. We offered a display of “Walkers/Bikers of the Week” hoping to encourage and motivate other bikers and walkers.

Needham in Motion: Members of the Congregational Church of Needham logged over 1400 miles biking and walking during the town-wide "Needham-in-Motion" effort during the month of May, the highest number of any community group!

Solar Panels: We researched and brought to the Board a proposal for photovoltaic panels, funded through a Power Purchase Agreement(PPA). The church was not quite ready to make this decision, but we hope it will soon!! Contact Deborah Baldwin, dhbaldwin@comcast.net, if you want more information about solar power and how PPA's work.