The Towson Unitarian Universalist Church in Lutherville, Md., dramatically reduced its energy use by taking steps that included sealing windows and replacing doors and light bulbs.

As a result it won the Interfaith Power and Light’s annual Cool Congregation contest, including a prize of $5,000, for the highest reduction in energy use. Said Carol Hedlund, chair of the church’s Green Sanctuary committee, “Our actions focused on three areas: energy efficiency of our building, educating our members on ways they could make changes in their own lives to reduce their individual footprints, and participating in energy efficiency community projects.”

The contest started with the congregation computing its carbon footprint, then working over a year to reduce it. Hedlund estimates the congregation reduced air leakage in its building by 67 percent and improved its heating and cooling capacity by 25 percent. It reduced its total carbon footprint by almost 20 percent.

Interfaith Power and Light, which has affiliate groups in 34 states, has issued a “10% Challenge” for congregations wishing to follow in the footsteps of Towson UU Church in reducing their total carbon footprint by 10 percent or more. The mission of Interfaith Power and Light is to assist congregations with energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy information. To learn more visit

About the Author
Don Skinner
Don Skinner is editor of InterConnections and a member of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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