Certified Cool Congregation, 10% carbon reduction
For the past ten years the First Unitarian Church of Louisville has worked to lower its energy usage, and has made many improvements using creative fundraising strategies, such as a scrap metal drive to buy dozens of compact fluorescent lights to replace incandescent bulbs. As more money came in, they replaced two refrigerators and a freezer with Energy Star-rated models that use less than half as many watts as the old ones. Then, in 2013 they voted to take bolder steps to reduce their energy consumption. They replaced their hot water heater, did a LED lighting retrofit, installed spray foam insulation below the most-used part of the church, replaced eight 24-year old HVAC units with new units with an EER rating of 10.9 or higher, and installed a new roof with a 30.6 R-value insulation.
The highlight of the conservation measures and the outcome of years of planning was installation of 10 solar panels on the roof of the church. Additional panels will be added as funds become available. This project should be yielding much higher than a 10% carbon footprint reduction, but during this time of energy saving measures, the building started to be used more, thus demand increased significantly. The efforts in effect were closer to a 30% reduction, but due to increased demand the net carbon reduction is 10%. First Unitarian has long been involved with environmental groups such as the Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. During the Louisville 2013 UUA General Assembly, First Unitarian’s Rev. Dawn Cooley, led thousands to the Ohio River for the Energy for Change March and Rally for Clean Energy and Healthy Communities. Wendell Berry and Tim DeChristopher were featured speakers. They feel strongly that reducing energy consumption is the right thing to do for “our church, our country and the planet.”