Energy Star now includes houses of worship

The Energy Star program, a voluntary labeling program for energy-efficient products, has been expanded to cover houses of worship.

Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Other areas it covers include computers, office equipment, residential heating and cooling units, lighting, new homes, and commercial and industrial buildings.

Two early recipients are the UU Congregation of Atlanta and First Parish in Needham, Mass. The Atlanta congregation is the first one in Georgia to receive the Energy Star designation. First Parish is the first house of worship in New England to be so designated. Advocates suggest that many congregations can cut energy costs by up to 30 percent with more efficient equipment, facility improvements and maintenance.

Find out more at the UUA’s Green Sanctuary blog and at Energy Star for Congregations.

Wind will power congregation’s building

A small congregation in Minnesota will soon provide most of its own power with its own wind turbine. The 58-member Nora Unitarian Universalist Church, a rural congregation in southcentral Minnesota, will receive a $20,000 federal grant to help pay for the $94,000-project.

Surplus power will be sold back to the local utility company. The congregation’s social justice committee began exploring alternative energy projects several years ago and settled on wind power. It expects to recover the cost of the project in 11 years.

The turbine will have 31-foot fiberglass blades on a 120-foot tower. Groundbreaking was to be November 21.