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Clean power for places of worship across US

Interfaith Power & Light

Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) is an alliance of faith groups from across the US. It was founded 20 years ago as a religious response to global warming.

Interfaith Power & Light’s ‘Cool Congregations’ programme enables faith groups to make changes in how they manage their places of worship, as well as how worshippers use energy in their own homes.

Cool Congregations is a stewardship programme which aims to change both collective and individual mindsets. It provides Carbon Calculators, tailored differently for congregations and for households, to track progress in cutting energy use and reducing carbon footprints. It also provides opportunities to plant trees in places like Tanzania to offset carbon usage.

An impressive 59 emissions reports have been filed since the Carbon Calculators were launched in June 2020, and 47 congregations have become certified, meaning that their energy use has been reduced by 10% or more.

Rev Susan Hendershot: the president of Interfaith Power & Light encourages groups to form their own plan of action to better their community, building in spiritual values Picture: IPL

By getting involved with the Cool Congregations project, congregations are able to demonstrate community leadership. IPL president Rev Susan Hendershot says that 'different stories inspire different types of action', and groups are encouraged to build spiritual values into their plans of action.

An excellent example of this can be found in Palo Alto, California, where the Kol Emeth Congregation won the 2020 Cool Congregations Planning Award for their new ‘net zero energy’ worship facility and zero waste plans, resulting in a building that avoided waste of energy and resources and enables greater involvement with the local community.

‘Different stories inspire different types of action' – Rev Susan Hendershot

Action is not limited to places of worship. All Saints Episcopal Church, New Albany, Ohio won the 2019 Cool Congregations Community Inspiration award for inspiring members to make changes at home to save energy and care for creation by signing up 23 families for energy audits offered by the local utility company. All Saints also began composting waste food brought in by worshippers, and soon a neighbouring synagogue, Temple Beth Shalom, joined in,

In conjunction with a US federal programme, EPA Energy Star, IPL has also produced a Congregations Workbook, a resource and planning guide for clergy, staff, and laypeeople who want to increase the energy efficiency of their facilities by implementing realistic and cost-effective energy improvement projects.

Interfaith Power & Light began in 1998 as an alliance of Episcopal churches which banded together to purchase renewable energy. In 2000, the movement broadened its focus, brought in other faith partners, and established a group in California, where the movement is now headquartered. California IPL developed a model which has engaged hundreds of congregations, educated thousands of people of faith about the moral and ethical mandate to address global warming, and helped pass California’s landmark climate and clean energy laws. Building on California’s success, this model has now been adopted by 40 state affiliates,

The largest installation of its kind on a house of worship in the US is this large solar array at Temple Beth El, in Stamford, Connecticut. The 210 kW system, uses 845 solar panels on the synagogue's 30,000 sq ft roof, which is also fitted with with three inches of insulation. The panels supply 70 per cent of the synagogue’s annual electrical needs. Picture: Interfaith Power & Light


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