BRUU has been at the forefront of the Green Sanctuary movement from the beginning. In 2021, BRUU earned reaccreditation with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) as a Green Sanctuary under the recently developed Climate Justice program.

Rev. Karen Brammer, the UUA Green Sanctuary Manager, said “Yours is one of two congregations that have used the [existing certification] process while raising the bar by integrating the 2030 climate justice collaboration requirements.

We earned accreditation in 2004 as one of the pioneering congregations in the program.  Ever since, we’ve been on a sustained journey of reducing our environmental footprint.  Our general approach has been to demonstrate approaches at the congregational level, and then to challenge our members and friends to pursue the same goals at home.

The reaccreditation process focuses on three categories of actions: mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (adapting to climate impacts), and climate justice (helping to reduce impacts to vulnerable communities).  For details on our actions, see our 2021 Reaccreditation Application.

For the past six years, BRUU’s focus has been primarily on mitigation through improving energy efficiency. After funding a professional energy audit for our building, we followed an action plan to improve our energy efficiency.  We also bought carbon offsets to neutralize our carbon footprint.  Solar panels might be installed later when the roof needs replacement, and if the rate structure of the utility department is revised to make solar cost-effective.

We have demonstrated a good way to start adapting to climate change by managing our courtyard garden as a wildlife habitat, in compliance with the certification requirements of the National Wildlife Federation.

Our Food Pantry regularly feeds over 100 families a month, many of whom are low-income and minority families at risk of environmental and climate justice-related stressors.  Manassas and Prince William County have a large immigrant population and many of these families have fled from such stressors, so there is a climate justice component to this important work.

The Green Team’s Equal Exchange Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate sales help struggling agricultural communities in Latin America.  We use the proceeds to fund carbon offsets, as well as support for local and UU environmental groups.

BRUU’s cross-cutting actions that promote mitigation, adaptation, and climate justice include our regular “Write Here! Write Now!” campaigns that advocate for climate action; annual Earth Day services and other periodic worship services that address climate change and related environmental topics; and a Board resolution committing to action on climate change.

Our priorities moving forward include a carbon footprint challenge and a backyard habitat challenge (for BRUU members in particular); support for the Greater Prince William Trails Coalition in its efforts to improve transportation access, equity, and wildlife corridors; and being a charter member of the Prince William Hub of Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions.

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