Pictured above: Representatives from Unitarian Universalist Church of Oakland accept the 2012 Energy Oscar for Advocacy
On November 13, the sixth annual Energy Oscars was held in San Francisco. 150 folks from all around the state gathered to celebrate, network, and honor outstanding congregations devoted to caring for Creation.
The awards part of the event was emceed by Greg Dalton, Vice President of The Commonwealth Club of California and founder of Climate One, which strengthens dialogue around climate change action. Entertainment was provided byAisha Fukushima, a rising star in bringing climate change and other justice issues to light in song. Rev. Sally Bingham, President and Founder of CIPL,
The evening started with a reception in which attendees had a chance to network with other houses of worship from around the state, and share stories about their involvement with energy reduction, education, and advocacy strategies. For the third year in a row, delicious and sustainable food was provided by Greens Restaurant.
After the reception, the awards portion commenced. 13 outstanding finalists were honored in four separate categories. The finalists and winners of the 2012 Energy Oscars were:
Davis United Methodist Church – Finalist
Davis UMC has been very active on a number of fronts, including holding Earth Day celebrations, forums on climate change and environmental stewardship, and energy efficency. Their “Grace Garden” donates healthy produce to the local food pantry.
Orange Community of Christ – Finalist
Rooted in a deep theological commitment to stewardship, Orange Community of Christ is active on a number of educational fronts, including a Lenten program on spirituality and reducing one’s carbon footprints; Earth Day; and an organic garden that yields healthy produce and is the basis for their youth summer “Peace Camp.”
Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange – Winner
This large group of active religious women have been active for many years in stewardship with forums, celebrations, and practical energy efficiency measures in the Motherhouse and residences of Sisters. Their recent Earth Day celebration gathered 250 folks together to hear about climate change and energy conservation. Their monthly film series recently included “Sun Come Up,” a documentary about the relocation of the Cartaret Islanders, who are some of the world’s first environmental refugees.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation
Church of Our Savior, Mill Valley – Finalist
Church of Our Savior’s impressive actions include energy efficiency measures culminating in a 12 kilowatt solar system; an Earth Day fair with education for youth and adults; and a sustainable food program aimed at education and reducing parishioners’ “foodprints.”
Church of the Brethren, La Verne – Finalist
Church of the Brethren has a long history of environmental action, including participating in an Ecology Taskforce in the 1970′s, and establishing a “Peace & Carrots” garden that supplies healthy produce to members and local food pantries. Their many energy efficiency improvements have been “topped off” with a 48 kilowatt solar system that provides 100 percent of the church’s electrical needs.
St. Mary’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Pacific Grove – Winner
St. Mary’s provides an example of energy efficiency not only to their parishioners, but to their larger community. In addition to a lighting retrofit, drought-tolerant landscaping, workshops, and participating in Interfaith Power & Light national campaigns, St. Mary’s works in concert with local organizations to make the entire city of Pacific Grove as sustainable as possible.
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Desert, Rancho Mirage – Finalist
Church of the Desert has become an increasingly active partner in environmental justice matters in the Coachella Valley. They supported state-wide legislation, such as the water rights bill and SB 375, and are partnering with the California Rural League Assistance on illegal toxic dumping and contaminated water issues.
College Community Congregational Church, Fresno – Finalist
This church was a leader in the struggle against an effort to mine Jesse Morrow Mountain, which would have led to an exacerbation of poor air quality and health issues in the Fresno area. The church wrote letters, attended public hearings, met with elected officials, and organized a press conference.
First Unitarian Church of Oakland – Winner
First Unitarian’s Earth Justice Associates have been active in a number of issues, including the People’s Victory Farms, advocating for low-emission buses for East Bay Bus Rapid Transit, and opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline. First Unitarian was a founding member of Oakland’s Climate Action Coalition, which wrote and helped pass Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan, one of the strongest local climate action plans in the country.
Cambrian Park United Methodist Church, San Jose – Finalist
After making many energy efficiency improvements to their facility, Cambrian Park installed a leased 126 panel, 24.42 kilowatt solar system, which offsets 90% of the church’s electrical needs.
First Congregational Church – United Church of Christ, Bakersfield – Finalist
First Congregational’s solar project, dubbed “God’s Light Powers the Future,” was installed after a lighting retrofit and other energy efficiency measures. Not only does the 44 kilowatt system provide two-thirds of the total power needs of the church, First Congregational boasts the very first solar system on a house of worship in Bakersfield.
Temple Sinai of Glendale – Winner
Conservation measures and a lighting retrofit in the school and sanctuary reduced Temple Sinai’s energy use by 30 percent. The temple then installed a 44 kilowatt system, which covers an additional 48 percent of the temple’s needs.
Church of the Brethren, Modesto – Winner
Church of the Brethren boasts many energy efficiency improvements, such as a lighting retrofit and thermostat timers, in addition to an organic community garden. Their 57 kilowatt system offsets 100% of the church’s electrical needs.
Among the many exciting aspects of the Energy Oscars was the wide geographic diversity among the finalists. Congregations from the usual large urban areas, like Oakland and San Jose were present, including house of worship from Modesto, Rancho Mirage, La Verne and the first congregation to go solar in Bakersfield, First Congregational Church UCC.