“I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things.” – Pete Seeger
The UUFT Green Committee builds connections between spiritual practice, sustainability and environmental consciousness in the congregation.
The Committee assists, supports, and celebrates the efforts of individuals and the Fellowship in stewardship of the Earth by affirming and promoting the UU Seventh Principle — respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The Committee works with like-minded organizations in Topeka such as the Sierra Club, the UUFT Intergenerational Green Team, and other religious organizations.
The Committee welcomes participation of all interested UUFT members and friends. Meetings are held at 6:30 pm on the second Thursday of each month. Following a long-standing tradition, meetings are held in the home of the chairperson.
- Click here to view our Committee Charter (pdf)
- Lou Hoover, Chair
- Mary Galligan
- Stuart Yoho
- Shannon Roy
- Terry Harmon
- Helen Newman
- Bob McDaneld
- Richie McDaneld
A major green concern these days is, of course, global warming. The response to global warming can be reduced to an individual level by thinking of our “carbon footprint,” i.e. the number of tons of carbon dioxide that our activities release into the atmosphere each year. In the United States, it has been estimated that each of us needs to reduce our carbon footprint by about 80%. That sounds pretty daunting, but we need to remember that we are not doing it alone.
Though government never seems to do enough, the fact is that government regulations are giving us such things as more efficient cars and home appliances and a greener mix from the power company. Further reduction of our carbon footprint can come about by home installation of clean energy sources such as wind and solar as they become more affordable, by reusing rather than buying new, and by conservation.
Church home carbon footprint
The Green Committee is helping to make sure our buildings, including the small religious education building, are as energy efficient as we can make them. Our architect Mike Wilson gave us a good energy efficient building which has zoned heating and cooling, airlock exterior entrances, etc. By consistent effort, congregants diligently keep our energy use as low as possible, e.g. by turning off the heat in unused rooms.
The Green Committee is measuring and documenting our energy use and identifying further ways to make our buildings more efficient.
Energy Star Portfolio Manager
Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM) is a tool provided by the EPA on their energystar.gov website. Through ESPM we can compare our building's energy use with that of other similar buildings (churches of similar size). For the year 2013, UUFT was awarded an Energy Star for being in the 85th percentile of energy efficiency. The Green Committee will continue to monitor building use through the ESPM, and provide feedback to the congregation in an attempt to maintain our Energy Star rating.
Building Energy Audit
We have obtained an energy audit of both of our buildings. This valuable and comprehensive survey was performed by two volunteers. It included such things as a blower door test and photos with infrared camera, resulting in several recommendations for weather stripping and other steps to further improve energy efficiency.
Individual Carbon Footprint
The Green Committee offers help to individuals who wish to decrease their carbon footprint in their homes.
Cool Congregations is a program designed for use by individual or family congregants. It offers tools to measure a home’s carbon footprint and suggestions for decreasing the carbon footprint. This program was started in February of 2014 and will continue indefinitely. Participants can track their progress from year to year.
Virtual Green Moments
Virtual Green Moments are information about energy efficiency and green living, tips for decreasing our household carbon footprint. They are provided via the UUFT Facebook page and all-member emails.
Annual Stuff Swap
The Green Committee sponsors the annual Stuff Swap, which has been a tradition for several years. The Stuff Swap is held in early December. For no charge, participants swap gently used items.
Household Hazardous Waste
The Green Committee held the first UUFT household hazardous waste drive in honor of Earth Day 2014. Household hazardous waste will be collected periodically during a Sunday morning service, to be ferried to the city household hazardous waste site. Household hazardous wastes such as paints, batteries and automotive products can find their way into the water table, rivers and lakes. It takes only a small amount to pollute millions of gallons of water.
US Department of Energy Energy Star Program