UUCC Green Team: Carbon Footprints
The Green Sanctuary 2030 Program
Climate change is an existential threat to all life on earth. UUA has established the Green Sanctuary 2030 Program toprovide a structured path for congregations in work that addresses the issues posed by global warming. UUCC is
seeking accreditation under this program with the approval of the Board of Trustees. We have completed the first step,submitting a Congregational Profile. We are working on the second, an Opportunity Assessment. This step requires that we consider past and potential actions in the areas of mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and environmental justice. Mitigation reduces the causes of global warming, primarily through the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. A specific requirement is that we compute our carbon footprint.
Our Carbon Footprints
What is a carbon footprint? It’s simply the amount of carbon dioxide you produce. Why do we care about carbon
footprints? Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases responsible for the global warming and climate changes we are experiencing. The more carbon dioxide we produce, the more warming we will experience. And there is potential for catastrophic warming.
Limitations of Carbon Footprints
Carbon footprints are not magic. They do not solve anything. They are simply a tool that we can use to monitor energy use and hopefully make more efficient choices to reduce our individual and congregational use of energy. They do not address the elephant in the room, which in our case is Dominion Energy. We can only indirectly influence the ways in which most of our energy is generated. Later columns will address this issue.
What does computing a carbon footprint do that simply keeping track of your energy use and miles driven doesn’t do? Disparate sources of energy are converted to a common unit. The hot tub can be compared to the airplane trip to California. And using a calculator reminds us of the variety of not necessarily obvious ways in which we are responsible for energy use. Different calculators make different assumptions so results may not be comparable across calculators. But consistent use of a specific calculator can allow tracking of energy use through time.
UUCC’s Carbon Footprint
We have computed UUCC’s carbon footprint using the Interfaith’s Power and Lights calculator at https://
www.coolcongregations.org/calculators. Our estimated carbon footprint for 2021 is 128.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Almost all of this is for utilities to support our building: 114.3 metric tons. Additional contributions are from visitor and staff transportation [8.9 metric tons] and purchases of supplies [5.3 metric tons]. As we move back into what we regard as normal operations, this carbon footprint will increase because of additional building use, including food and other events.
Compute Your Carbon Footprint
Interfaith Power and Light also has a carbon footprint calculator for households: https://www.coolcongregations.org/ calculators/household-calculator/. There are many other calculators online if you prefer. After you have computed your footprint, share your results and/or comments with the congregation.
Draw a Carbon Footprint
Draw the outline of a foot on a piece of paper. Inside the foot outline, write activities that contribute to your carbon
footprint. Outside the foot outline, write activities that could potentially reduce your carbon footprint. Get creative and decorate your footprint. We will post them in the UUCC RE wing.
Participate In Forest Bathing
Forest bathing is a relative new term used to describe immersion in nature in a mindful way. Spend some quiet time with trees and notice what you hear, what you feel, what you smell, and what you see. Do not go with goals. Do not count steps. Do not count birds. Do not try to identify everything. Take deep breaths and relax. As you are breathing, you are taking in oxygen and emitting carbon dioxide. The trees around you are taking in carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. This is why forests are important for reducing greenhouse gases; the trees sequester carbon. It’s sometimes possible to find formal programs for forest bathing or other forms of nature wellness. But you don’t need them. Just go by yourself or with friends and family.
Attend the Climate-Ready Columbia Conference
There are many facets to managing our lives and communities for the reality of climate change. An impressive group of sponsors has organized a two-day program with panels and presenters addressing many of these issues. Mark your calendar for the dates – Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2, and look for further details as they become available. The event is free and open to the public. You may attend in person or virtually over zoom. Check for information at www.climatereadycola.org.
Visit a Sustainable Yard or Garden
Chickens! Bees! Veggies! Rain gardens! Native plants! Sustainable Midlands has organized a Sustainable Yard Tour on Sunday, April 3, from 10 AM to 5 PM. You will be able to visit a variety of spaces highlighting a variety of sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to manage your yard. Register online at Sustainable Yard Tour | Sustainablemidlands or pick up a map at the Rosewood Community Garden at Owens Field Park [across from the airport] starting at 10 Sunday. The locations are not being publicized for security reasons, but you will certainly recognize some names and places.