Green Sanctuary

A Green Sanctuary is a Congregation that…


  • Has received official recognition for completing the Green Sanctuary Program by the Unitarian Universalist Association.
  • Lives out its commitment to the Earth by creating sustainable lifestyles for its members as individuals and as a faith community.
  • Is committed towards creating a religious community that has a fundamental, bottom-line, commitment to living in harmony with the Earth.

You may find more information on the denominational program and activities at this website .

First Unitarian Society received this recognition from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 2009.  As a Green Sanctuary, our community continues to challenge itself to live in a way that reveres the interdependent web of existence and keeps it whole for the good of all life now and for future generations.

“This process was never about the single achievement of Green Sanctuary accreditation. Rather, it has been all along, about the process of becoming more mindful of the impact of our actions and decisions on our interdependent web of life, and to take the time to reflect and learn and deepen our appreciation for just how fragile this web is.”

Through this accreditation process, “our congregation’s commitment to living our seventh principal has been strengthened and will continue to be acted on in many different ways into the future.”
–Green Sanctuary Accreditation Application

This was the culmination of a 3-year process that included activities and educational experiences about the environment that included adults, youth and children.

Among the steps we have taken as a congregation are . . .

  1. Direction Action and Social Justice: Outside the Society
    * Brought clean water to a Peruvian village in the Amazon river basin by fully funding the effort and working through Amazon Amigos, our partner organization.
    * Planted trees and conducted clean-ups along the main bike/walk commuter train in Minneapolis
    * Led the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance legislative action to pass a renewable energy requirement in Minnesota; door knocking, letter writing, meetings with legislators and the Governor (2007-08).
    * Worked on updating and expanding that renewable energy standard to include a solar requirement (2013)
  2. Direction Action: Within Our Own Walls
    * Through large and small efforts, we increased the Society’s building’s EPA energy efficiency rating from 29 to over 60 and won the national EPA “Battle of the Buildings” for energy conservation in 2012 for house of workshop category. (Efforts include winter window covering, recommissioning the entire HVAC system so it works as efficiently as possible, putting heat on auto set-backs when building isn’t used, including efficient lighting, etc.)
    * Purchase 100% green energy (wind-generated power) through our utility.
    * Established onsite backyard composting for our kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, etc.
    * Improved our recycling capture through purchase of large, centrally located recycling bins.
    * Use 100% recycled content paper, produced with green energy.
    * Reuse Order of Service covers to reduce paper waste.
    * Installation of bike racks.
  3. Environmental Education:
    * Reviewed our RE curriculum to update the environmental components
    * Earth Day educational events
    * Gave several environmental workshops for UU Youth at Youth Con 2009
  4. Ministry:
    * Seasonal celebrations for each quarter of the year and change of seasons.
    * Multiple sermons about the environmental challenges we face and how Unitarian Univeralists might respond.

We will never be finished. The natural resources we depend on, depend on our continued vigilance and commitment to:

  • increase the number of us who bike, walk, bus, or carpool
  • increase use of reusable coffee mugs during Sunday social hour
  • make more facility improvements to further conserve energy
  • work for stronger federal action on climate change, and local action to reduce air and water pollution and conserve natural resources.