Carbon Pollution from Faith Based Organizations

Data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) indicates that congregations in the United States spend between $0.25 and $1.30 per square foot (ft2) annually on energy. Nationally, the largest source of energy consumption is from space heating. Cooling and lighting are also significant sources of pollution.

Roadmap to Being Carbon Pollution Free

Road Map to Being Carbon Pollution Free

This road map demonstrates the steps that your organization can take to become more energy efficient, save money, and reduce your climate pollution to zero. It is a clear and simple way to understand where you are currently and what the major steps are on the journey. A second goal of this project is to share work faith based organizations are doing with the community to inspire other organizations and individuals to take action, both locally and across the country.

A significant number of faith communities have become inspired and are on their way to be carbon pollution free. Many are also actively working with their own congregations to inspire and empower them to take similar action in their personal lives. Through making these efforts highly visible in the community, this leadership by faith communities inspires a larger community movement that significantly accelerates the adoption of a carbon pollution free lifestyle.

  • Download this checklist as a worksheet
  • DIY Energy Audit
Step 1: Laying the Foundation

Establishing energy, waste, water, and transportation sustinability goals is a great place to start.

PACE provides expert advising services, assistance with rebates and incentives, and a certification program to help businesses measure and gain recognition for their achievements in energy, waste, water, and transportation.

Let everyone know about your commitment to being a sustainable business in the areas of energy, waste, water, and transportation.

This is a systematic way of assessing what energy resources are currently being used by your church and evaluating ways to reduce energy consumption and costs. Typically, energy assessments identify numerous simple, no-cost/low-cost recommendations to reduce energy use.

When you join PACE, you will be paired with an expert Business Sustainability Advisor in Boulder County who will work one on one with you to pursue sustainability efficiencies in one or all of the following areas: energy, waste, water and transportation. An action plan will then be developed.

Step 2: Establish a Baseline and Set Pollution Reduction Goals

EPA created the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, an online tool you can use to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator is designed as a simplified calculation tool you estimate and inventory your annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The calculator will determine the direct and indirect emissions from all sources at a company when activity data are entered into the various sections of the workbook for one annual period.

Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources.

Review 12 months of utility bills and determine your highest usage months. If you are on the secondary general rate, determine what changes you can make to try to get below 25kW; this will greatly reduce your utility bill.

Earn a Portfolio Manager score of 75 or greater and receive PACE energy certification.

Step 3: Quick Payback Projects


Replace T12 or T8 fixtures with LED technology, which can provide superior lighting quality, better dimming and occupancy sensing capability, lasts longer, and uses 40-60% less energy than fluorescent.

Occupancy sensors installed in areas of varying occupancy, such as bathrooms, break rooms, private offices, storage closets, and meeting rooms, are a great way to save energy by automatically turning lights off when the area is not in use.

Upgrading halogen or incandescent screw-in light bulbs to LEDs can reduce energy by 80%, reduce your cooling load, lower maintenance costs, and improve lighting quality in your space. PACE offers rebates. Xcel Energy now offers pre-discounted screw in LEDs

Exit signs are in operation 24 hours per day, making them a constant energy user. Upgrading Incandescent or CFL exit signs to LED can not only save you energy costs, but maintenance costs to replace the bulbs on a monthly or yearly basis.

Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling

Upgrade to programmable thermostats, and make sure thermostats are programmed to power down at unoccupied times.

A Building Automation System (BAS) is a brain that regulates the performance of your facilities’ systems including: heating and cooling, lighting, air ventilation, security, and even food storage. When equipment malfunctions or a building condition is outside of normal parameters (e.g. the temperature in a room becomes extremely high), a BAS will trigger an alert. When the BAS operates correctly, it leads to cost and energy savings.

Have HVAC equipment serviced on a quarterly basis and monthly during peak heating/cooling seasons.

Prior to replacing equipment, contact your Advisor to determine available rebates.


Regular inspection should be done to ensure dampers are working properly, filters are replaced, and motors and coils are clean and keep supply and return air ducts clean.

As kitchen equipment is replaced, look for ENERGY STAR-rated models to provide the highest efficiency. When you are ready to purchase new kitchen equipment, contact your Advisor to explore a few different options and determine which rebates you may qualify for.

Load-sensing, occupancy-sensing, or timer-controlled power strips can save 28-40% of the energy used by the devices connected to them. Review the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s guide on the different types of advanced power strips.

Enable power management settings on computers by putting them into hibernate or sleep mode when not in use. This can reduce energy up to 60% after hours and 45% during office hours. Reduce phantom power drains by turning off or unplugging equipment that not in use, or is used infrequently, such as personal printers and scanners. Use load or occupancy sensing power strips or electrical outlet timers.

Water Heater

High-efficiency storage hot water heaters can save 10-20% on energy versus the minimum standard.

Pipe insulation improves efficiency of your water heating system, can reduce burn time, may allow you to lower your set point temperature, and can help address some of the issues with the lack of hot water.

ENERGY STAR rated models provide the highest efficiency, often using 25-50% less energy, and tankless water heaters can save 45-60% on energy, where appropriate.

Building Envelope

There are several ways to increase efficiency in your building envelope without spending too much or spending nothing at all: Check window and door frames for leaks, caulk leaks to prevent the loss or gain of unwanted air, and replace door seals.

The energy efficiency could increase greatly in the building by adding insulation to increase the R-value of the existing conditions. This will reduce heat loss in the winter months and increase comfort levels during the summer months.

Energy can easily be lost through windows and doors, especially when they are left open or have leaks.

Window film is a low-cost way to reduce solar heat gain from large windows. Boulder County offers a rebate of $2.75 per sq. ft. for window film installation.

Air sealing is one of the most cost-effective efficiency measures. Even an eighth-of-an-inch gap around a seven-foot door is the same as a two-and-a-half-inch hole in the wall. Installing permanent weather seals is the best solution.


Providing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at work has been demonstrated to make employees 20 times more likely to purchase an EV even though 80% of charging typically happens at home. Grants are available from the Regional Air Quality Council up to $9000 for Level II charging stations.

Hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles can help increase energy security, improve fuel economy, lower fuel costs, and reduce emissions.

Encouraging employees to bike is part education, part culture, and part infrastructure. Your Advisor is available to give trainings and presentations on how to motivate employees and create the right conditions at the office for a successful bike commuting program like adding bike storage or showers. Boulder County offers up to five free bike racks per business.

Post bus schedules and carpooling options in visible locations. The EcoPass smartcard is valid for unlimited rides on all regular RTD bus and light rail service. Employees with an EcoPass are five to nine times more likely to ride the bus than employees without one, reducing parking issues and emissions from commuting.

To earn PACE certification, businesses must demonstrate that more employees take sustainable forms of transportation to work than the community average and provide at least one sustainable transportation employee benefit.


The toilets in your building are usually 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) tank-type toilets. Upgrading these fixtures to 1.28 or less gpf toilets can help your facility reduce water use. It is important to install WaterSense-labeled equipment when replacing these fixtures. WaterSense toilets are independently certified to have an effective flush volume and pass performance tests.

At 1.5 gpm, you can reduce your water use without sacrificing water pressure. You can purchase high efficiency aerators at any local hardware store and install them yourself.

Conventional pre-rinse spray valves could be upgraded to WaterSense-certified models to save both energy and water. According to the EPA, businesses can save more than $115 annually on energy and water costs by switching to a WaterSense labeled pre-rinse spray valve, which have been spray force and life cycle tested to ensure equivalent performance in a commercial kitchen.

Several of the men’s restrooms are equipped with 1.0 gpf urinals, which could be upgraded to waterless or WaterSense-labeled urinals that use no more than 0.5 gallons per flush.

Drought-tolerant and native species landscaping preserves water, lowers maintenance on the plants, and brings a sense of beauty to the landscape.

To earn PACE certification, businesses must demonstrate that they consume 15 percent less water than the usage predicted if all fixtures meet code. PACE staff will assist businesses in conducting an assessment to identify the performance of existing fixtures and identify opportunities for savings.


On average, over 60% of business waste can be diverted from trash as recycling or compost. It is recommended that recycling be added to help divert glass, plastic milk jugs, almond and soy milk containers, cardboard, and paper. This service could be potentially combined with one or several neighbors to help reduce any costs that may be associated with setting up the program.

Waste can be reduced by incorporating sustainability into purchasing practices. Items that you buy or receive come with packaging that becomes waste that you have to deal with. Your Advisor can help your business build an environmental purchasing policy and connect you with additional helpful resources.

Many cleaning products have been shown to degrade indoor air quality, pollute the water, and negatively impact the health of sensitive occupants. In effort to maintain a clean facility, service providers and facility managers often use harsh solutions that, while disinfecting the building, contaminate the indoor air.

If you divert at least 70% of your business’s waste from the landfill, you will receive PACE Zero Waste certification.

Step 4: Switch Heating from Gas to Electric

Refer to your energy audit report for guidance.

A feasibility study can help to identify if a given project should be undertaken by delineating costs and risks associated with various areas of the project’s development.

There are rebates available for replacing system components such as motors, fans, and pumps.

Step 5: Invest in Renewable Energy

PV Solar Rebates are offered at $1 per watt and is capped at $15,000. Rebates for solar do not count toward other parcel caps. As with other Boulder County rebates, funds must be reserved prior to purchase/installation.

The City of Boulder provides grants for the installation of solar electric and solar thermal systems on: The facilities of site-based nonprofit organizations and nonprofit organizations that lease city-owned facilities, and low/moderate or middle income housing owned by nonprofit organizations.

Renewable energy certificates (also known as renewable energy credits, or RECs) represent the energy generated by renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power facilities. Buying RECs is not equivalent to buying electricity. Instead, RECs represent the clean energy attributes of renewable electricity.

Congratulations! You are now Climate Pollution Free!

Create Impact Beyond Your Facilities
  • Research the causes and impacts of the climate crisis.
  • Deepen constituent knowledge of, and participation in, climate solutions, including the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction, sustainable transportation, and public health and wellness.
  • Reduce pollution through effective implementation of this guide.
  • Incorporate climate-preparedness measures in anticipation of extreme weather and other climate-related impacts.
  • Define and describe local climate priorities, as well as report on the progress of your climate plans and the benefits of local climate solutions.
  • Promote local solutions throughout the community (climate impacts affect us all).
  • Share opportunities for the community to participate in climate solutions.
  • Support engagement efforts and boost public awareness.
  • Utilize the tools offered through Path to Positive Communities to support your engagement efforts.
  • Share successes, ideas, and best practices with other organizations throughout the community, and encourage them to join in taking a stand on climate.
  • Facilitate local or regional collaboration. This initiative will enhance local impact and magnify it.
  • Support policy across multiple levels of government.
  • Put pressure on local leaders, governors and state governments to act.
  • Call upon Congress and the president to pass legislation that will expand existing climate action efforts with fellow big-city mayors and mayoral coalitions.
  • Promote international climate solutions.

When The Buff Restaurant in Boulder moved to its new location, the restaurant reused and repurposed many of the materials that were already there: the wood from the previous restaurant’s booths was made into new booths, and some of the new wood walls were created by turning around the existing beadboard. In 2014, the Buff received PACE certification in Zero Waste and earned recognition from Western Disposal for diverting more than 95 percent of its waste into compost and recycle. The Buff hopes that its waste consciousness extends far beyond its doors and compostable containers.