More "What Meetings Are Doing"

Recently a Friend wrote to us asking what other meetings are doing to reduce their use of fossil fuels. Friends share ideas in response and we're posting them here. What is your meeting doing?

"Our Meeting has put solar panels which provides about 50%of our electricity. Yesterday was Quarterly Meeting in Annapolis (about 30-35 miles away from Balto.) and we had two cars going with 8 people so our carpooling for that worked nicely." -- submitted by Stan Becker, Co-clerk, Homewood (Baltimore) Monthly Meeting 

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"Annapolis Friends Meeting has:

  1. Installed recharging points for plug in hybrids,
  2. Contracted to have PV panels installed to meet Meeting House electricity requirements. We have an agreed location but actual work on this has not started. The holdup is with the contractor, not the Meeting.
  3. We have discussed the problem of Global Warming several times under the rubric of "Religious Education",
  4. We are contemplating a Minute in support of the Sanders-Boxer Climate Protection Act recently introduced into the Senate." -- submitted by Will Candler, Annapolis Friends Meeting

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"My meeting is a renter - we use a public school building to meet on Sundays, which means we are using space that would otherwise not be used, etc.

It also means there isn't much we can do about the energy use, as the Berkeley USD is a major bureaucracy and takes major effort to make changes - though of course, there are fluorescent lights, etc and we compost our waste.

One of the things my Meeting does to address fossil fuel use is we created the Dime-a-Gallon project to increase awareness of our use of fossil fuels and to encourage contributions based on at least a dime per gallon (or energy equivalent to a gallon of gas). We use contributions as a mini-grant program, funding projects that contribute to lower energy use (like a super-efficient freezer for the local food bank, helping to buy solar panels for an Oakland non-profit as part of the Solar Mosaic program, supporting sustainability projects at Sierra Friends School and similar projects).

Another thing that we have done as a Meeting is to articulate our concerns for the Earth by writing an Earthcare Testimony -- describing how we let our lives speak on this all important issue." -- submitted by Shelley Tanenbaum, Strawberry Creek Meeting, Berkeley, CA

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"Bloomington Friends Monthly Meeting has worked on many earth friendly projects over the last ten years. The Earthcare Witness Committee did a survey of the meeting house in the areas of energy conservation, water conservation, and use of cleaning products, which resulted in many remedial actions, such as replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescents, and using more environmentally friendly products. We bought a Kill-a-Watt tool that measures electricity use of all appliances, both for use in the meeting house and to loan out to Friends to measure their own electricity use. Using that information we decided to replace the more than 14-year old refrigerator and applied for and received a QEW mini-grant to purchase a new Energy Star fridge. We replaced the single pane windows in the worship meeting room and in the foyer with double-pane windows and have added cellular blinds for them.

We renovated an old tool shed into a garden cottage classroom for First Day School use. We helped remove beautiful hardwood flooring and windows from a private residence scheduled for demolition and used the materials to renovate an old tool shed into a garden cottage classroom for First Day School use. Our cottage also has “green” insulation (used jeans material) and has a small wood-burning stove and a small space heater. At that time we had a photovoltaic site assessment done for our Meeting and we used money from a bequest, designated to be used for energy sustainability measures, to install a small solar panel which at the least supplies enough electricity for use in the cottage.

We have done restoration work on the gardens and grounds of the meeting. We have removed invasive bushes
and plants, such as bush honeysuckle, autumn olive, Japanese honeysuckle, privets and garlic mustard. This is still an ongoing project as we don't want to use chemical intervention. We have planted approx. 100 small native tree seedlings, that will provide nuts and berries for wildlife and we planted hundreds of native sedges, grasses and flowering plants in an area that contains a swale, effectively controlling soil erosion. Our grounds are now certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. We have installed a rain barrel to catch water from the roof for watering the flower beds around the building.

The largest project that has engaged our meeting as a whole this year has been a consideration of the need to renovate our meeting house. The original house, that the Friends bought in the late 60's, was a typical ranch to which we added a meeting room. Now, however, the old concrete-walled house has several structural problems, and we need more space. A proposal was solicited from an architectural firm to help the meeting develop a long-range, multi-staged facilities master plan. We are engaging in a discernment process. We want to be good stewards of our property and resources while giving full attention to our Quaker beliefs and values." -- submitted by Ria Collee, Bloomington Friends Meeting

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"Our meeting, Grinnell Friends Church (FUM) near Grinnell, Iowa, took advantage of energy rebates from our utility company to significantly upgrade the insulation in all of our building ceilings last year. Our 40 year old building is large with a sanctuary that seats up to 200 for big events like weddings, a Christian Education wing, a large foyer where people visit at length after worship, and a fellowship hall /gymnasium. Our heating and cooling are all electric. Everything is zoned on timers so we turn up the heat or cooling only in the areas
where and when we have meetings or activities. Insulating has significantly reduced our utility bills. About 20 % of our electricity is powered by wind farms owned by our public utility close by." -- submitted by Jim Kessler, Grinnell Friends Church 

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"Lafayette Friends Meeting is in the process of adding substantial amounts of insulation to our meeting house, thanks to volunteer labor of one of our members." -- submitted by Anne Pellegrino, Lafayette Friends Meeting

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"Yellow Springs Friends meeting is on the Antioch College campus. When the college closed about five or six years ago, we suddenly were without heat, which had been from hot water radiators, with hot water supplied to all college buildings using natural gas. Some of the options considered were electric baseboard and ductless mini split heat pump (the newer part of our building is heated with a natural gas furnace and was insulated). The decision was then made to put in electric baseboard heating as it was quiet. But this resulted in quite high heating bills, due to the old single pained windows and un-insulated brick walls of our Meeting's main room. This spurred us on to do an energy retrofit of older parts of our brick meeting house. We thickened the walls to the inside five inches to hold insulation, replaced the single pained with double pained windows and sealed leaks in the structure. I have since learned that a mini split heat pump uses two thirds less electricity for the same amount of heat than conventional electric heating. Using such a pump would have reduced our site energy use and CO2 output similar to using natural gas heat." -- submitted by Faith Morgan, clerk of Yellow Springs Friends Meeting

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"We got plates and napkins for potlucks and snacks. We meet in a place where they recycle food, paper, metal, plastic and glass. We carpool. We teach the children..." -- submitted by Sharon Sparling Trent