Posted by Taylor Chazan

At its annual meeting last May, the Church voted unanimously (and with much enthusiasm) to become a Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emitting Congregation, and to spend the 2017-2018 church year:
1) Developing a master plan with timeline and budget recommendations for review by the Board of Trustees and, if feasible, presented for approval by church members at the next annual meeting.
2) Conducting on-going education of the congregation and encouraging action on all steps that would create a Net-Zero church.

Since that vote, the Net-Zero @ Neighborhood Committee formed to facilitate this effort, with representatives from the Board, Church staff, and Green Council. In the following weeks and months, the Committee will publish a series of posts on this blog and the e-newsletter to update you on our progress and ways to participate.

The most important way to get involved is mark your calendar for a workshop at Church to kick-off our Net-Zero effort. The workshop is facilitated by representatives from Pachamama Alliance, a terrific organization doing climate and other 7th Principle type work worldwide. Having participated in one of these workshops already, I can say you’ll not want to miss it. They are an eye-opening, educational, and inspiring–and a terrific reminder of our interconnectedness with people and planet. In short, it is a terrific motivator for our Net-Zero efforts.

The Pachamama Alliance workshop is scheduled twice. Look for details soon on signing up for one of these:
• Saturday, January 13th 9:00-1:30pm
• Sunday, January 28th 1:00-5:30pm

Getting to Net-Zero:

So how do we get to Net-Zero? The Committee started by drafting Goal and Scope statements to clarify what Net-Zero means at Neighborhood and to guide our on-going efforts. Next, the Committee did a quick calculation of the Church’s carbon footprint and is developing a plan for eliminating it. This high-level plan will be used in initial conversations with the Board and congregation. The Committee will then undertake a more detailed audit and assessment of the Church’s energy use and carbon emissions–and refine the Net-Zero plan, including timeline and cost estimates, for consideration by the congregation. And last, the Committee is identifying an effective way for members to calculate and understand their own personal carbon footprint, and how to incorporate that into Net-Zero.

Goal of Neighborhood Church’s Net-Zero Commitment:

Neighborhood Church’s goal is to:
1. Eliminate all carbon emissions generated by the Neighborhood Church (NUUC) campus and staff, by:
a) Eliminating any wasteful use of electricity, natural gas, water, transportation fuels, and other carbon intensive resources by reducing, reusing and recycling.
b) Utilizing only carbon-free sources of power on campus, initially by eliminating the use of natural gas and by purchasing carbon-free electricity from the grid, and ultimately by producing as much carbon-free electricity on-site as is consumed.
c) Off-setting any remaining direct or indirect carbon emissions with carbon credits; which funds projects that reduce equivalent quantities of carbon emissions elsewhere in the world.
2. Encourage & facilitate the reduction of carbon emissions generated by individual Neighborhood Church congregants in their personal lives, with the ultimate goal of Net-Zero collective carbon emissions for the congregation as a whole.

Scope of Neighborhood Church’s Net-Zero Effort:

Carbon emission sources to be targeted include emissions from:

  •  the operation, maintenance and use of the NUUC campus by NUUC congregants and staff
  •  the use of NUUC campus by paying and non-paying tenants

And more explicitly from:

  •  the direct use of power (electricity & natural gas)
  •  the indirect use of power from the use of water
  •  the consumption, use and disposal of purchased goods & services
  •  business travel by NUUC staff


  •  the operation, maintenance and use of congregants’ homes
  •  personal travel by congregants

NUUC will undertake their Net-Zero effort:

  •  within the physical and financial limits of the facility and congregation
  •  within the religious principles and esthetic values of the congregation
  •  within the limits of the law and in compliance with NUUC’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP)

The Goal and Scope statements above are the Committee’s vision of Net-Zero at Neighborhood Church, and will be the foundation of our short- and long-term efforts. We are excited about this vision and welcome your thoughts, questions, or concerns. You may contact us by emailing the Committee chair, Frank Colcord, or speaking with Committee members on the patio at church.

Net-Zero @ Neighborhood Committee: Frank Colcord (chair), Clyde Derrick (Board), Stephanie Ballard (staff), Leslie Swanson (Green Council Chair), and everyone on Green Council.

Frank Colcord
Net-Zero @ Neighborhood Committee
December 13, 2017