The Green Sanctuary Program provides a path for congregational study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges. The Green Sanctuary Program, now in its sixth edition, partners with congregations to address climate change and environmental justice. Congregations that complete the program are accredited as Green Sanctuaries in recognition of their service and dedication to the Earth. Read more about the program on the UUA website.

Early in 2014 the Green Team submitted our application for candidacy to enter into the Green Sanctuary Certification Process. In October we received notification that our application was accepted.

Here is a summary of the projects we committed to in our action plan. You can see the full application by clicking here.

Worship and Celebration Projects (2 required)

Project Title: Earth Day Celebration
Project Description: Worship & Celebration for Earth Day
Timeline for Completion: We plan to continue this Earth Day celebration each year at UUCG, and will vary the activities each time.
Lead: Peggy Averyt


2014 Blessing of the Animals

Project Title: Blessing of Pets Service Oct 2014, Oct 2015

Project Description: Using online resources from Blessing of the Animals: A Resource Guide for UU Congregations, and members’ respected fond memories of previous Blessing of the Pets services, we will hold a multigenerational service honoring pets. Church is the place where the bond of creation is celebrated. Thus the service will be joyfully shared with words from Our Reverend, perhaps a veterinarian, and someone from the humane society. Every creature is important and the blessing of the pets is an action illustrating our Seventh Unitarian Universalist Principle, which directs us to respect the Interdependent Web of All Existence of Which We are a Part”.
Timeline for Completion: October 2014, October 2015
Lead: Bonni DeMarco


Religious Education Projects (2 required, 1 for children and 1 for adults)

Keyhole Garden's first season was plentiful

Project Title: Keyhole garden

Project Description: A keyhole garden is a form of high-wall, raised-bed gardening which has sustainable features such as drought tolerance, built in compost recycling as plants grow, and is capable of being built with locally available materials such as our crape myrtle trimmings, brick, stone, boulders, concrete rubble, or landscape retaining wall blocks, the latter of which we are choosing to allow more easy participation in the construction. Through the involvement of a wide variety of ages through our innovative religious exploration program we hope to encourage our members to build these at home for all the above reasons.
Timeline for completion: 2 months for structure, and planting, then harvest and replant as the growing season progresses. This is intended as a permanent installation with ongoing use.
Leads: Vera Balestra Huff, Dayna Mcevoy, Rachel Theus, Don Graff


Project Title: Ethical Eating
Project Description:  Dr. Mark Causey will lead an educational class for adults and older teens on Ethical Eating.  The class will explore the connections between our food choices and their environmental impact.  The class will focus primarily on the heavy environmental toll that meat and dairy consumption exacts on the environment according to the UN FAO and other reliable scientific sources.  The class will explore ways in which we can make better choices in our eating habits that more closely align with our value systems.
Timeline for Completion: Ongoing
Lead: Dr. Mark Causey


Environmental Justice (2 required, 1 long-term that actively promotes justice for those affected by environmental injustices and creates relationships)

Project Title: Climate Change Awareness and Activism: Impact on People
Project Description: This project will raise awareness and understanding of the impact of global-warming-induced climate change on the planet in general but in particular on poor and indigenous populations. It will also make connections with important local and national advocacy striving for changes in government policies to avoid further emissions of greenhouse gases and implement mitigation of climate change effects.   Cooperation and collaboration will be fostered with organizations such as the Sierra Club, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Climate Reality Project and others.  Planned Earth Day celebrations will provide opportunities for connection to these groups.   Timely issue-oriented letter writing and lobbying of local and federal officials, with emphasis on potential impacts on people, will be facilitated and encouraged.
Timeline for Completion: 2014-15 and beyond
Lead: Terry Welsher

Discarded Mattresses: Clean up planned for Spring 2015

Project Title: Increasing Neighborhood Awareness
Project Description:  UUCG’s neighbor is an apartment complex. There are some woods and small creek between the two buildings. This has been a dumping ground for trash, household items and furniture for many years. UUCG will initiate meetings and discussions. We will learn if recycling is an option for the apartment complex. We will invite the residents to seminar on recycling. If the residents express interest and recycling is not offered we will work with the apartment complex building supervisors and Gwinnett County to begin a program. We will monitor success of program and use feedback to identify other areas to improve the relationship between UUCG and their neighbor.
Timeline for Completion: long-term project January 2016
Lead: Don Graff and Social Justice Committee


Sustainable Living (4 required, 1 that addresses energy conservation)

Project Title: High Efficiency and Renewable Lighting

1. Enter into a new lease contract with Georgia Power for a modification to our existing parking lot lighting plan which will include not only a change from the original 20 year luminare’s to new LED type luminare’s, but also we will modify the spacing layout to allow us to effectively light the same parking lot area with 3 rather than 4 luminare’s. This changed lighting plan will not only result in reducing our energy consumption but also result in a net savings of $25 a month to the congregation.

2. LED Outdoor building wall lighting. Remove 5 original photocell activated metal halide outdoor wall luminaire’s and replace with LED luminaire’s. We will use the Georgia Power Commercial Rebate Program to pay for the fixtures and based on the energy reduction our rebate will almost cover the cost for the 5 fixtures which will net out to $15. One of our members is a licensed electrician and will provide the installation at no cost.

3. Bathroom vanity lighting change. Replace incandescent and CFL decorative lightbulbs in vanity luminaire’s over sinks in men’s and women’s bathrooms with LED bulbs. The Georgia Power commercial rebate program will apply to these interior bulbs also. The net total cost will be less than $10.

4.Solar overhead pathway lighting to upper parking lot. Currently we have no lighting illuminating stairs and walking path to the upper parking lot. We will install 2 stand alone solar powered motion sensor activated 85 lumen LED lights. An integral solar panel will charge a built in battery during the day to provide power at night. Total cost: 63.00 for material and installation labor by congregation members.

Lead: Don Graff
Time for completion: 30 days.

Project Title: Comprehensive  Recycling Program
Following our local, Gwinnett County guidelines, we will create a recycling program that will permeate all aspects of congregational life while we chart a path toward reduced consumption. The following are list of suggested ideas. This will be an ongoing dynamic program in which actual procedures change dependent on interests of church.

Some ideas include:

  1. Youth group responsible for the collection of aluminum cans and materials, as well as their redemption at a metal recycling facility.
  2. The congregational rental policy will be altered to reflect our expectation that rental parties will follow our recycling policy when they use our building.
  3. Recycling bins for paper, plastic, aluminum and glass will be set outside the kitchen door for ease of access.  These will be decorated by the youth group and maintained by all.
  4. A list of recycling sites will be available on our web site.  Those in need of assistance will be instructed to contact the Green Sanctuary Team.
  5. The congregation will be instructed, through newsletter and announcement notices, as well as from the pulpit and in book discussions, on how to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and REFUSE in order to help reduce the solid waste stream at its source.

Timeline for Completion: ongoing
Lead: Karen Smith

Project Title: Rain Barrel workshop
Project Description: Gene Kelly will present workshop on rain barrels. He will talk about water conservation and problems from flash flooding.  Flash flooding picks up oils and chemicals and is released into lakes and streams without treatment. The benefits for a rain barrel are chlorine free chemical free saline free water to be used for landscaping purposes. Each participant will receive a used barrel and spigot kit and connector. He will help each participant drill and place spigot with instructions how to attach to gutters. Discussions about rain barrels, droughts, and floods will encourage participants to become more conscious of water conservation in general.
Timeline for Completion:  one day workshop fall 2014
Lead: Bonni DeMarco

Project Title: Dual Flush Toilet Installation
Project Description: UUCG will install at least one dual flush toilet in each bathroom. Dual flush toilets are exactly what they claim to be: toilets that give you the option to choose from two different flushes. Studies of dual flush toilets show that using a dual flush system as opposed to a conventional one can reduce water consumption by up to 67%. There are even municipalities in the United States, all from areas where drought is a major concern, where similar statutes have been passed in an effort to conserve dwindling water resources. Although water at this point is not an expensive utility it is a finite resource.

After installation, Green Team will have Second Sunday educating congregation on use of dual flush toilet, leading into the broader topic of water conservation in the United States and water in rest of world. We will start this conversation with stating that the United States is the only country in the world that uses hospital grade water in their toilet. This will lead into discussions of water usage and limited supply in other parts of world. We will describe and use pictures step by step of the removal and installation of toilets. We end this presentation showing pictures of our old toilets going to be porcelain recycled, and the hope others may decide to install dual flush or low flush toilets in their households.
Timeline for Completion:  Late summer/fall 2014
Lead: Mary Bois Byrne Don Graff


Additional (2 required, these can relate to the program elements of your choice)

Project Title:  Supporting Bees and other Pollinators
Project Description:  

1.)  Have any interested congregants write letters and/or sign petitions to stores and/or elected officials to discontinue selling, stocking, using pesticides (e.g. neonicotinoids) and herbicides that have been shown to be detrimental to bees.

2.)  Include some bee attracting flowers in various gardening projects at UUCG.  Have list available for the congregation for the members’ home gardens.

3.)  Coordinate with RE/Earth Group and any interested individuals, for a bee workshop.  This will be presentation based and include lifecycle of the honey bee, members of a bee colony, nectar and pollen collection, bee friendly plants, how honey is made by the honeybees and how it can be harvested, as well as parts and use of traditional Langstroth bee hives.

Timeline for Completion:  2014 – 2015
Costs:  varies, depending on committee and board decisions
Lead:  Mary Bois-Byrne


Labyrinthblessing2Project Title:  Labyrinth and Labyrinth Celebration
Project Description:   The existing labyrinth will be renovated. UUCG has a labyrinth which has not been maintained. Many members voted to restore the labyrinth. It is approximately 20 feet in diameter, with bricks being re-used and following the existing labyrinth’s pattern. Landscapers’ fabric will be used first and followed by gravel base and in-filled with more decorative gravel/pea stones.   A celebration of the labyrinth will be held on a potluck Sunday, with time for our congregation members to walk it. A second hour Sunday will examine the history of labyrinths and consider the meditative properties of the labyrinth.
Timeline for Completion:  Spring 2015
Costs:  $250-$300
Lead:  Mary Bois-Byrne