Your first major Green Sanctuary activity will be a comprehensive environmental assessment: a snapshot of your congregation’s current positions on environmental programs and practices. You will review everything from building and grounds management, to worship elements and the content of your educational programs. You will also examine consumption patterns, spending habits, and social activities.
A summary of your environmental assessment is required to become a Green Sanctuary candidate, is valuable regardless. Acknowledging what the congregation does well provides a psychological boost. The assessment will also identify gaps, problem areas, and opportunities for improvement. With this information, you can develop a list of recommendations and opportunities that will strengthen operations and insure long-term sustainability. You will put your passion for justice to work by identifying opportunities to deepen your relationship with the Earth, and healing environmental damage to human and nonhuman communities.
The assessment helps to develop the substance of your Green Sanctuary action plan. As you carry out the plan, the assessment becomes a baseline that allows you to visibly measure your progress.
Your Green Sanctuary candidacy application will include a summary of the key findings of your environmental assessment. You are encouraged to keep the detailed findings as a permanent part of your files. Periodically updating the assessment can help you track changes and evaluate future actions.
This stage has two main goals, with an optional third:
- Have your facilities undergo a professional energy audit.
- Conduct a congregational assessment where you gather information about your organization’s practices and programs.
- Collect personal assessments (optional) – survey individuals in your congregation to assess attitudes and habits related to environmental issues.