Urbandale United Church of Christ in Urbandale, Iowawon the Cool Congregations Energy Saver Award for the work of their “Green Boat Team” to achieve a 40% reduction in electricity use and a 20% reduction in gas use. They are the first of their denomination in Iowa to sign the Paris Pledge to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030 and they are ahead of schedule.
Faced with an aging building and failing piecemeal systems constructed and remodeled over many years, they persistently overcame each obstacle of building repair and upgrade to be able to retrofit their heating and cooling systems and improve the energy efficiency of the building. Congregants pitched in to repair holes in the ceiling so that insulation could be installed, worked with the local contractor to help find locations and pathways for new furnaces, duct work, and air conditioning lines, solve roof leaks, and upgrade to custom LED lighting that cut sanctuary lighting energy use by 90%. Their next step is to install solar panels to complete their goal of 50% carbon reduction. They hope to save 53 tons of carbon emissions annually.
The well-organized “Green Boat Team” inspires engagement of their congregants through internal educational efforts and encourages the wider community to reduce energy use by offering public Iowa IPL workshops on climate change and solutions.
Note: Their green team was inspired by Mary Pipher’s book, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture. She described the importance of supporting each other on this challenging and often discouraging journey. So they named their team “Green Boat” and now start each meeting with a potluck and time to talk and support each other before getting down to business.