A Green Sanctuary
Being a Green Sanctuary is one of the ways we work toward a vision of healthier, more sustainable future.
As a recognized Green Sanctuary, we live with a deep awareness of our climate crisis and the deep environmental injustices of our time. We commit to four practices, grounded in Unitarian Universalist principles:
- Environmental Justice: We partner with marginalized communities who are hit first and hardest by environmental crisis. In partnering with these communities we are able to address human and environmental needs at the same time.
- Worship and Celebration: As we work together towards a cleaner, more just and sustainable world, worship inspires our work and reminds us of what is most sacred and most true.
- Religious Education: Our workshops and programs for all ages shape attitudes and build practices that are sustainable and spiritually-grounded.
- Sustainable Living: We treat the world more gently by using fewer resources and being mindful of the choices we make, both as a congregation and as households.
We invite all who share these values to join us on this journey of connection, sustainability, and hope. Contact Elizabeth Golden to get involved. And join our broad and growing movement for climate justice with Commit2Respond.
Learn about our journey in constructing CVUUS’ green sanctuary here: houses-of-worship-tour-2016-cvuus
CVUUS Goes Solar! And helps Parent Child Center go solar, too!
Two years ago, we joined with seven area other congregations in the Addison County Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN) to support the Addison County Renewable Energy Co-op’s (ACORN) plan to develop a solar energy project in Shoreham. The 17 panels we paid for will begin offsetting our electric bills when the field comes on line this winter, and eventually pay for themselves. We also pledged an additional 10 percent of our investment for ourselves to a fund to get solar energy for the Addison County Parent Child Center — roughly $960. These congregations and individual donors are also helping the Addison County Parent Child Center join in renewable solar energy sourcing. To celebrate love in action, and to welcome the new light of the winter solstice that will power these new solar panels, we held a special blessing and ceremony of gratitude at the Solar2 construction site in affirming that people of diverse religions and neighbors unaffiliated with any faith community can work together to care for the earth. Location: 869 Watch Point Rd, Shoreham.
More Background: On August 14, 2018 the CVUUS Board voted to invest in Acorn Energy Coop’s AES2 community solar project, whose 612 photovoltaic panels will feed 150 kilowatts peak power into the electric grid. CVUUS is eligible to invest in this project through our membership in the Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN). Each investor receives credits against their electric bills for energy produced by their share of AES2’s solar panels. Our investment is limited to $10,000, which buys us 17 panels, with peak capacity of nearly 6 kilowatts.
Here’s why investment in AES2 is good for CVUUS:
- It furthers our commitment to the UUA’s seventh principle (respect for the interdependent web of existence). Reducing dependence on environmentally damaging energy sources puts our energy money where our principled mouth is. Although Green Mountain Power has one of the “greenest” energy mixes, it still includes about 24% fossil-fueled electricity.
- It furthers our commitment to the UUA’s second principle (justice, equity, and compassion). We will contribute an additional 10% “mission fee” to help ICAN purchase solar panels for a low-income advocacy organization.
- It makes economic sense: Acorn expects an annual return of 9.36%, paid as electric-bill credits. That translates to about $1000 per year, or some 25% of our annual electricity cost. That 9.36% is a lot more than we earn with money in banks or most other investment vehicles.
AES2 faced a series of regulatory hurdles, which weren’t cleared until July, 2019. Site work began the next month and continued through last fall. The PV panels and associated equipment were installed through the winter, and finally, on March 10, 2020, AES2 went online.
CVUUS recently received our first monthly credit for electricity generated by our solar panels. Our credit was $123—taking some 45% off what would have been a bill of $272. In terms of energy, we consumed 1,360 kilowatt-hours (kWh) for the month, and were credited for 634 kWh of solar generation. That means 47% of our electricity was solar-generated. (That’s a bit more than the 45% of our monetary bill, a result of other charges like our monthly customer charge.)
However, the pandemic means 2020 is an unusual year: We weren’t using our building, and our electricity consumption is down. Last year we used 2,100 kWh in the same period, and estimating from that figure gives suggests that our bill would have been reduced by about 29% if AES2 had been online. But that percentage is probably low, because we consumed more electricity than usual at this time last year while finishing the ground-floor kitchen. So in more typical times we might be getting more than 30% of our electric bill paid through the solar project. That will vary throughout the year, lower in winter and higher in summer, and we’ll need to monitor for a full year to get a good number.
Thanks to our 17 solar panels in the ACORN Energy Solar 2 project in Shoreham, as well as our participation in Green Mountain Power’s new Share Green program, CVUUS’s electric bill for mid-July through mid-August was –$19.25, meaning that we didn’t have to pay anything in August and that $19.25 will be credited against future months’ bills. The ACORN solar project generated 882 kilowatt-hours, 80% of our total electricity consumption.
Do you get your electricity from solar panels? If so, you should have received an email in early July from Green Mountain Power describing their new Share Vermont Green (SVG) program. The idea is that those of us whose solar systems generate more energy than we use can donate excess credits to help Vermont nonprofits and small businesses with their electric bills during these difficult economic times. Your contribution goes to a pool of nonprofits and small businesses who have signed up for the program. CVUUS is one of them, and we’ve already received our first credit. However, you can’t designate CVUUS as your sole recipient; all contributions go to the pool. GMP reports that at present there are more recipients than contributors, so they’re hoping to see more signups from GMP customers who have excess solar credits.
You can sign up with the Sharing Enrollment Form at the SVG program website: https://go.pardot.com/e/150831/vermont-green-/v1g98/292253273?h=QLMO9ulZNoCAzjW7sl2r52iIcdduvyCZbQVxt-4_NlE. After that you’ll get an email with a form to sign, and directions to download a phone app that lets you specify your contribution. (This is given as a maximum daily amount; the actual amount you donate on a given day will depend on your solar production, and may be less but never more than what you specify.)
If you do have excess credits, GMP is going to expire them after they’ve been in your account for a year. So it costs you nothing to give away what they’re going to take back anyway. In our case, we looked back at our electric bills and found that GMP had retired about $60 in credits over the past year. That’s $5 per month, or about 17 cents per day. So 17 cents is what we put for our daily contribution.
Stay tuned! Rich Wolfson, CVUUS Solar Coordinator
Gleaning: Our Environmental Justice Project
Gleaning, the collection and redistribution of excess or lightly damaged food, is a CVUUS Green Sanctuary Environmental Justice Project. There are a few ways you can get notices and participate. One way is through the Weekly Blast. Another is by getting notices directly by registering at http://salvationfarms.org/get-involved.html. Select the type of work you’d like to do, which includes planting, gleaning, processing, delivering, admin, etc. You can take home some gleaned items if there’s enough. Lily Bradburn coordinates gleaning, local food processing and cooking for HOPE, a CVUUS donee. Contact her at 388-3608 ext.225 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to help with
– In-field harvesting of surplus produce
– Collecting unsold produce at Midd Farmers’ Market
– Delivering produce to HOPE’s food shelf
– Processing produce for winter use (we helped process apples)
Gleaning Guidelines What to bring/ wear or remember before a glean:- Sunscreen and a hat or appropriate rain gear- Water and if needed some snack- Clothes you are ok with getting dirty, layers are also a good idea if we start a glean in the cooler morning then work into a warmer mid-day or vice versa for afternoon gleans into the evening- Closed toed shoes sturdy for farm work. *** For both shoes and clothes please avoid wearing clothes covered in soil, manure, compost from your own farms or gardens***- *Most Important* Use the bathroom before coming to a glean. These facilities are limited and the surrounding woods or fields are not an option.- If you feel sick the day of the glean call the number listed below and avoid coming as we are handling food.-To contact us in the field the day of a glean call 802-377-2016-We will glean rain or shine unless there are thunderstorms or a heat advisory. If there is a cancellation we will contact RSVPs (if you are registered on Salvation Farms)-Please park at the farm and wait for Lily to arrive to receive instructions before we head out into the field.-Always prepare to walk a distance from parking to get to the gleaning location
Charter House Community Garden Volunteers gather on Saturday mornings 9-11 am. If you have an itch to work the soil, we invite you to join our team of volunteers who provide vegetables for the Community Meal programs of Charter House Coalition. Help us harvest our garden on the grounds of Porter Hospital. Adults and children are all welcome. Produce from this garden supplies vegetables used throughout the year in our daily Community Meal programs. Surplus produce is passed on to local food shelves and to regular volunteers. Whether you are a master gardener or have no experience and just want to enjoy the garden aromas and mountain views with friends, all are welcome. One of our coordinators will always be at the garden to guide the work on Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 am through the spring, summer, and fall. By late May coordinators will also be present two or three mornings and evenings at times convenient to the volunteers. The garden is located just off the northeast parking lot of the Porter grounds. It is helpful to know your interest in advance but feel free to just show up. Please contact Doug Sinclair (email@example.com) if you have questions or would like to get on our mailing list.