First Universalist Church of Denver

This submission reflects this organization's contribution to the climate effort, representative of their current actions and commitments as well as the ways in which they intend to step up and collaborate with others.

First Universalist Church of Denver's Climate Action Contribution

About First Universalist Church of Denver's Climate Efforts

We embrace and promote the seventh principal of Unitarian Universalism: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. The Green First Task Force pursued, and achieved certification as a Green Sanctuary in 2010. Since then we have continued to work on environmental issues both within and beyond the walls of the First Universalist Church of Denver.
Minimizing our footprint on the environment is our first goal, but we want to leave a trace and have a positive impact on the earth and all living beings around us. Our building was built to be carbon positive, putting more energy back on the grid than we use. Through a combination of geothermal heating, solar panels, energy efficient lighting, and reclaimed and environmentally sustainable building materials, we have built a church home that reflects our commitment to making positive impact.

Climate Action Commitments

Current Climate Actions First Universalist Church of Denver Is Taking:

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Commit to Promoting Conservation and Worship

Commit to incorporating messages of conservation, stewardship, and the importance of climate action into sermons and talks with your congregation or community

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Commit to Community Education and Communication

Commit to offering education opportunities that are designed for staff, adults, and children, and feature information on clean energy, stewardship, individual/household climate actions, climate advocacy, and any other applicable subjects. The importance of building environmental literacy in changing habits and perceptions is profound, and organizations and institutions trusted to convene the community are among the most impactful educators.

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Commit to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutant Emissions

Short-lived climate pollutants—such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—are powerful climate warmers many times more potent than CO2 over their lifetimes. Because they are short-lived in the atmosphere, actions to reduce these super pollutants can have substantial, near-term climate, agricultural and health benefits and are an essential complement to CO2 reduction strategies. Policy-makers can announce regulatory or voluntary approaches to drastically reduce SLCPs, such as developing methane strategies or adopting rules on use of warming HFCs. Organizations can commit to engage with suppliers to provide training, conduct pollutant inventories, and establish systems for tracking, measuring, and monitoring these types of emissions. Analysis shows that SLCP emissions can be cost-effectively reduced by an estimated 40-50 percent by 2030.

Policymakers, companies and organizations are encouraged to accept the #SLCPChallenge of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which calls for ambitious action on SLCPs. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards reduction, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.

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Commit to Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy

While individual organization action is necessary, local and federal government action is also needed to reach global climate goals. Your organization can have a critical voice in advancing public policy. A commitment to responsible engagement in climate policy means that your organization commits to supporting public policy to: promote energy efficiency and renewable energy; increase investment in a clean energy economy; support climate change adaptation, or put a price on carbon.

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Commit to Increase Your Use of Renewable Power

Increasing your percentage of renewable energy sources is a key component of reducing overall GHG emissions. Installing onsite renewable generation, like solar panels, is a good long-term strategy if possible. But renewable energy can also be procured through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), renewable power purchasing agreements (PPAs), and in some locations from retail electricity providers or local utilities that offers a high percentage of renewable power. Also consider becoming an EPA Green Power Partner.

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Commit to Understand and Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Understanding your GHG emissions is the first step to making measurable reductions in those emissions. The EPA provides an overview report and CoolClimate Network provides a simple tool for “low emitters” to better understand sources of emissions, as well as how to use that information to set reduction targets. For this commitment, it is as simple as committing to complete a greenhouse gas inventory for your business or oganization, but in the future your inventory can be used to make a commitment to set a specific goal, such as “reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2025.

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Integrate Climate Change into Portfolio Analyses and Decision-Making

Commit to integrate climate change-related risks and opportunities in portfolio analysis and decision-making processes through one or more of the following:

  • Analyzing and assessing climate change-related risks and opportunities (e.g. through carbon footprinting, scenario analysis).
  • Making commitments and setting targets (e.g. to carbon footprint reduction, to enhanced portfolio resilience, to decarbonization, including via the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition).
  • Investing in low carbon investment funds and other products (e.g. low carbon indices, climate-aligned bonds).

New Climate Actions First Universalist Church of Denver Commits To Take:

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Commit to Reducing the Climate Impact of Your Transportation

Organizations making a commitment to reduce the climate impact of transportation should consider practices such as measuring transportation greenhouse gas emissions and setting reduction targets, switching fuels, optimizing the efficiency of shipping operations, and reducing transit- and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses can develop a green transportation action plan to map the movement of goods to market and identify opportunities to increase efficiency. Organizations can buy hybrid and electric vehicles within their own fleet, and can reduce the footprint of their workforce through incentivizing public transportation, installing EV charging stations, promoting telework, and locating near transit centers.

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Commit to the Natrual and Working Lands Challenge

The natural systems upon which we depend are essential to life and critical for reducing the impacts of climate change on our communities. These systems are also under threat from human activity and climate change. Maintaining the resilience of natural and working lands is an important part of any GHG emission reduction strategy. It is also important to securing the well-being of communities, economies and ecosystems. Actions that secure and enhance the “carbon base,” such as land conservation, restoration, and improved management, also support watersheds and food systems, improve air quality, protect against urban heat islands and sea level rise, and preserve the beauty and function of natural areas and parks. Those that accept the NWL Challenge should commit to securing natural and working lands as a resilient net sink of carbon. This will take different forms for different actors. For example, local, sub-national and national jurisdictions might take a broad approach like that of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Landowners and managers may wish to focus on restoration and implementing climate-smart practices on their own lands. Businesses may look at their supply chains and customers as potential partners, and incorporate natural and working goals into their own climate change commitments and strategies.

The U.S. Climate Alliance States commit to taking actions that will reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration in forests, farms, rangelands, wetlands and urban greenspace, and integrating these pathways into state GHG mitigation plans by 2020. The Natural and Working Lands Challenge calls on other states, cities, nations, tribes, businesses and others to make the same commitment within their organizations. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards this challenge, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.

Areas For Collaboration

We are interested in collaborating on the following:

Efficient Buildings
  • Encouraging more aggressive state energy efficiency policies
  • Supporting building thermal decarbonization and electrification

Electric Vehicles
  • Encouraging more aggressive state targets for electric vehicles and GHG standards

Local Collaboration
  • Collaborate on climate and clean energy action, and to advocate for stronger climate policy at the local level
Other collaborations
We have and continue to host and sponsor both internal and external sessions, lecture series, and events that promote sustainability, divesting, adding renewable energy, local food, impact investing, and other impact activities. We are active members of the Colorado Interfaith Power & Light organization and are listed with the nat8ional Interfaith Power & Light as a Cool Congregation. IP&L recently featured our church in its blog describing our impact as “above and beyond”.

Further, we have installed an extensive energy monitoring system capturing real-time data on over 75 temperature points in our geothermal system and over 40 electricity circuits to monitor and manage our usage.

Organization details

Established in 1890, the First Unitarian Church of Denver has occupied its current building and site since the early 1960's. During 2017 the building underwent a major transformation. As part of the major remodel and expansion, the church committed to be in “right relations” with the interdependent web of life, our 7th Principal and committed to become a Net Zero Carbon facility. This required converting 10 HVAC units to electric heat pumps connected to a large geothermal heating and cooling system. In addition, rooftop solar provides ~100% of electricity needed to operate the facility each year. The very big challenge of financing this fossil free renewable energy was led by the congregation’s Green First Committee and enlisted both stretch donations and high impact low, interest loans from members.
Sector
Faith Organization
Location
Denver, CO
Secondary/Communications Email