In keeping with our UU values and principles, building sustainably was always considered essential. The "Green Group" was one of the first workgroups to meet. They developed the criteria we would follow in making decisions during the design and building process. (See below.) We held an all-congregation all-day Sustainability Workshop in April 2012 to learn more about our options, establish priorities, and to formulate a plan. It was then that we decided to strive to meet Earth Advantage certification at the platinum level—primarily to keep our architects and builders committed to the standards we set.
Criteria for Making Decisions for Sustainability
(Green Group—March 2012)
- Consider payback time frame of green features—e.g. life cycle cost analysis.
- Design for low maintenance and use long-life materials for both the interior and exterior. Build for 100 years or more.
- Provide for livability/aesthetics of spaces in addition to green attributes. For example, make sure it does not feel industrial, but is a welcoming, comfortable, quiet place with fresh air quality, natural lighting, warm floors, soothing color palette, and harmonious indoor and outdoor spaces.
- Maximize natural potential for “green” approach, considering the site’s advantages such as solar access. Building should be oriented so that it can be heated by passive solar.
- Use local materials and products; use concepts and approaches that fit our local climate.
- Stage for the future as well as for current benefit. Consider technologies yet to be developed. Be ready for changes in cost and availability of energy resources.
- Allow for flexibility/adaptability/expandability in material selection and systems design to incorporate emerging technologies (such as geothermal) or technologies that may decrease in cost (photovoltaic).
- Keep it simple—selecting easy-to-use systems and low maintenance materials.