Environmental Sustainability Team

All UUI members looking to meet up with others who are concerned about the environment, enjoy great food, and participate in volunteer activities, please join the Environmental Sustainability meeting on Monday, August 13 in the UUI Social Hall. 

5:30pm: Meatless Monday pitch-in with Citizens Lobby members
6:00pm: Meeting Agenda covers current status of projects and ideas for the future
7:00pm: Join CCL for a monthly educational video  

RSVP to Hellene (hmhoudek3@gmail.com) for Agenda and CCL's Educational Topic.

Can't join us this month? Future Meetings dates are listed below. Format will be the same. 

  • September 16
  • October 15
  • November 19
  • December 10

From the Sustainability Committee

You might be interested to know that in January 2015 we replaced all 192 50 watt halogen bulbs in the sanctuary with 9.5 watt LEDs.  Since that time three have burned out.  Whenever that happens we call Cree, the manufacture of the bulbs, and ask for a replacement.  Within 3 or 4 days they arrive at our door.  Good bulbs, good company.

Good Cents Results

Below is a final tally of the results of the energy audits through Good Cents

Final Numbers from 2017:

Total Enrolled - 60

Completed and Paid - 33

Cancelled by those requesting an audit - 10

Not eligible because of utility supplier or having a recent audit - 13

Income Qualified Weatherization - 4 (Scheduled for 2018)

UUI benefited by getting $825 which has been put toward our solar project.  Assuming that the 33 homes that had audits received 8 LED light bulbs that replaced 60 watt incandescent bulbs, together those folks will save in the range of $15,000 and reduce CO2 emissions by 150 tons over 10 years.

Thank you to everyone who participated!  It was well worth the effort.

Solar Production Report

Our existing solar panels produced 577 kwh in November.  They produced 524 kwh in November last year, and they produced 642 kwh in October.  The days are getting shorter and the sun is getting lower in the sky.  As a side note, we did wash the panels in early November, and we can say, with data to back it up, that the panels are more efficient since they have been washed.

Yellowwood: The Battle Continues

Read this blog post (https://indianaforestalliance.org/moral-victory/?blm_aid=3819489) to find out what you can do, and what the Indiana Forest Alliance continues to do, to prevent this tragic cut of old-growth forest.

Our Solar Panel Project Begins!

At the congregational meeting on August 20, the congregation voted in favor of proceeding with purchasing a substantial solar system.  Three bids were received, and we have chosen Johnson Melloh to be our supplier and installer.  They are the same company that installed our original system located on the Cottage roof.  The panels will be placed in racks in the area of our present garden.  The work will begin about the last week of October.  Prior to that we will have a separate contractor do some tree trimming and tree removal so there will be less shade on the panels.

We have signed a contract for the work and made a 25% down payment.  For those of you who have made pledges to help pay for the panels and have not yet done so, now is the time to send in your checks.  Thank you very much for your contribution!  For those who wanted to make a pledge and have not done so, it is not too late.  Just remember to put Solar Project on the memo line of your checks sent to the church so they go to the solar fund and not to your regular pledge payment.

You will be interested to know that the new system will include a Kiosk (screen) in the Social Hall that will display the production of the solar system.  Incidentally, in August our present 10 KW system produced 1158 kwh of electricity.

Solar Panel Project - We are Fully Funded!

UUI signed onto the Paris Pledge, which means we will strive to reduce our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and by 100% by 2050.  We have made significant reductions thus far through energy conservation.  We want to take another giant step toward meeting our promise by installing significantly more solar panels to reduce our purchase of electricity and thus carbon emissions from coal-fired generation of electricity.

The preliminary plan is to install 120 panels on the ground in the general area where our garden space is now.  Because of Senate Bill 309, we want to do it before the end of the year to take advantage of net metering for 30 years.

Our Board of Trustees has given the green light to proceed with the education and start collecting pledges.  We will have a Congregational Meeting on August 20 to vote on proceeding.  The total cost of the project will be $75,000.  At this time we have $50,000 pledged.  So we need to collect pledges of $25,000 more to fully fund the project.  Panels will cost about $600 each.

Individuals or groups can donate any amount — it all adds up.  If you (or your group) sponsor an entire panel ($600) you can even name it!  Pledge forms are available in the Social Hall, or you can click here to view and/or print one.  Please leave pledge forms in the black mailbox outside the Cottage and Mara, our Office Administrator, will collect them. 

Click here to review the presentation slides on the Solar Panel Project.

Click here to view/print the Solar Panel Pledge Form.

Tire Recycling

Tires are a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  You can help make the world a safer place by helping reduce the risk of west nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases by disposing of tires properly.  Tires can be recycled at any Meineke location, or they can be dropped off at Mosquito Control (4001 E. 21st Street, Indianapolis) or Southeast Community Org. (1925 Fletcher Avenue, Indianapolis).  There is no charge at any of these places.

Please remember that you may bring old cell phones, batteries, CFL light bulbs, or discs to UUI to be recycled.  There is a plastic tower with green labels where you may deposit these things back in the corner behind the Welcome Desk in the Social Hall.  Jeannette Rowe of our Green Team takes them to the Tox Drop on Lafayette the first Saturday of each month, 9am to 2pm.  For more information, please contact Jeannette at jeannetterowe25 (at) gmail.com.

Solar Panel Report - June 2017

In June we generated 1326 kwh of electricity with our solar panels.  That offset emissions of 2020 pounds of carbon.  In May the panels generated 1202 kwh.

Recycling Toxic Waste

Now that spring has caught us red handed, we may be looking at the old paint cans and oil drums that have accumulated in our garages and perhaps are getting in our way, let's think about how we might improve that dilemma.  Let's consider learning about the City of Indianapolis toxic drop program at http://m.nuvo.net/indianapolis/indianapoliss-toxdrop-program/Event?oid=2590266.  You may find a list of what they will accept at http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPW/SustainIndy/Waste/Reuse/Pages/ToxDrop.aspx. Lists will also be available in the Social Hall on Sunday.  Small items can be brought to UUI and for larger items, please contact Jeannette Rowe at jeannetterowe25 (at) gmail.com.

Lawn Care

Because of our new mow-upon-call-system UUI implemented, we reduced the number of times the lawn was mowed to 15 mows in 2016, compared to the 30 times it was mowed in 2015.  This resulted in a total savings of $2,184 ($168.00 per mow) in addition to the administration/mobilization charge assessed for each visit.  We had a fairly wet spring and summer this year.  If next year is drier, we will likely avoid even more mowing during the more typical summer dry spell.

We also chose to forgo three applications of fertilizer and herbicides, totaling a savings of $1,014.  Turf condition will be assessed in the early spring to determine whether a pre-emergent herbicide application would be desirable to prevent excessive weed growth.

The grand total savings for the church from all the above was $3198.  In addition to these savings, there were a number of substantial environmental, energy, and carbon-reducing benefits and our residential neighbors weren't disturbed as often by the noise of mowers, blowers and edgers.


Message from the Environmental Sustainability Committee

As most everyone knows UUI recently installed 200 LED replacement tubes.  What you might be interested in knowing during the last few months of 2016, through only one vendor supported by Indianapolis Power and Light, 125,000 tubes were installed in schools and churches in Indianapolis.  In rough numbers, if each LED tube saved 20 watts over the previous florescent tube and the lights were on 2000 hours a year, that would result in saving 5,000,000 kwh of electricity in a year.  And if the cost of electricity is $.10/kwh, that would result in saving a half million dollars by schools and churches every year from here on.  And more importantly that reduces CO2 emissions by 3500 metric tons every year.  That is equivalent to 18.7 rail cars of coal not burned each year.


LED Light Installation

Thanks to the energy conservation rebate program of Indianapolis Power and Light and Culture Lighting, UUI was able to obtain 200 LED florescent bulb replacements for free.  At full price these bulbs are worth $3200.  Because of the age and variety of existing fixtures in the buildings, over forty light fixtures had to be replaced, requiring many hours of work.  If we had to pay electricians to do the work, we probably would have chosen not to make the investment.  Thank you to Jim Olson, Piero Madar, John Noble, Matt Bassett, Kathy and Don Dewees, Steve Dunlop, Joe Smiddie-Brush, David Ham, Bob Kirk, Jerry Foster, Mark Walsh, and Chris and Shannon Elliot.  Special thanks to Shannon who figured out where to recycle the old, mercury containing florescent bulbs.

Our electricity cost will go down.  The environment will be less stressed.  The students will have better light.  The maintenance folks will get fewer calls.  Win, win, win, win. 


Living Green

We can use our purchasing power to bring about positive social, economic and environmental change.  One way is by buying locally produced foods.  We can also buy paper products that have high recycled-paper content, as well as tree-free paper and flooring.  We can buy or make natural, non-polluting cleaning supplies, and we can opt for compostable dishes when reusable plates and bowls are not an option.  Most importantly, we can reduce what we purchase by rethinking our needs, reusing what we already have, and not buying certain earth-damaging products, such as polystyrene plates and cups, disposable utensils and, of course, plastic water bottles.


Recycle Cell Phones

If Americans recycled the more than one hundred million cell phones they throw away each year it would save enough energy to power 18,500 homes, according the Environmental Protection Agency. We’d also keep 65,000 tons of electronic waste, some of it highly toxic, from polluting the environment each year.

Please drop off your old cell phones in the Social Hall. (If you can't find where, ask at the welcome desk.) We'll take them to the City’s Tox Drop for you.


Reduce Your Carbon Footprint!

Fellow UUs did you know that you can greatly reduce your carbon footprint for all the electricity you use in your home each year to zero? We have approximately 100 families in our church. If every family reduced its emissions of CO2 resulting from electricity use to zero, we would save 2,520,000 pounds of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. Pretty impressive! 

So why in the world wouldn't we do this? Does this cost fifty dollars, One hundred dollars? NO!!  About 15 minutes to sign up and about $20-25 per year. That's right folks - twenty bucks a year.

In Indiana about 80% of the electricity we use comes from burning coal. For each kilowatt hour of electricity you use, 2.1 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. The average Hoosier family (we know you are not the average family, but...) uses approximately 12,000 kwh per year and thus emits 25,200 pounds of CO2 a year.

There is no one in our church who does not understand that global warming is the most important problem ever faced by humans. Let's do our part to bring sunshine into this dreary July!

If you purchase your electricity from Indianapolis Power and Light click here.

If you purchase your electricity from Duke Energy click here

If you need assistance or have questions, please contact a member of the Green Team. We want to brag that our congregation emits no CO2 from our use of electricity. That is our goal. We need your help.

Your Green Team thanks you!


Exterior Lighting Report from the Green Team & Building Team

Our church just invested in further reducing its consumption of electricity.  We installed LEDs in all our exterior security lighting. Our old lights used 3430 kw per hour they were on. Our new ones use only 976 kw. That is a 71% reduction. We also upgraded the solar cells and time clocks so that we can better use electricity when we need it. If we assume that the lights will be on five hours per day and electricity costs $0.12 per kwh, we expect to save $1075/year. And there will be additional savings because of the long life of LED bulbs.

The cost of the bulbs and installation was $3,782, we expect to get a rebate from the utility company of $1,435, making our net cost approximately $2,347.  So we will pay off our investment in a little over two years. And the really nice part about it is this is money that we accumulated $25 at a time by having Energizing Indiana do home energy audits and previous rebates from the utility companies.

light bulb 3.png

We now know it only takes one Unitarian Universalist, at least at UUI, to screw in a light bulb.  However,  it did take quite a few to contribute $3840 to finance the project.  And it took about 30 people to physically get the job done.  

At one point after church on January 11th we had seven ladder teams taking out the old bulbs, washing the light fixtures, and screwing in the new bulbs.  Others were taking the bulbs out of boxes and out of their packaging and writing the day’s date on the base of each bulb.  Some were ferrying the new and old bulbs to the ladder teams.  Some folks were moving chairs out of the way and vacuuming the floor.  

We had several youth helping.  One did top of the ladder work and two younger ones spent lots of time separating plastic from cardboard packaging and nesting it so it could be recycled more efficiently.  And then there were the folks who provided and served lunch for everyone.  And there were several people who ported ladders from their homes so we would have all the ladders we needed.

And we did the whole job, changing out 192 light bulbs, in about 1 ½ hours.  And while we were working, Jim Olson even gave us a glimpse of the possibilities of our new video projector by showing us the beginnings of the Dallas - Green Bay Packers game on the upfront screen.

So here is the bottom line.  The church will go from using 9600 watts to 1824 watts of electricity every time the lights are turned on – cutting electricity use by 81 percent. And since the CREE 9.5 watt bulbs are warranted for 10 years and with an expected life of 23 years, we should have little ongoing maintenance for many years. 

Thank you everyone who had anything to do with this project.  As a church we should be very proud of what we have accomplished.  And thank you to the Fine Arts Committee folks who were taking down Christmas decorations and hanging the new art show while all of the light bulb activity was going on. You were very patient with us.