Here is a checklist for greening the buildings and grounds of your congregation!

Checklist for Green Congregations: Building, Grounds, and Practices

Correlated with pages in

Environmental Guide for Congregations, Their Buildings and GroundsView Download pdf (496k).


Section 1. Worship (6-15)

1._____Living flowers or plants on the altar to be kept or planted later outside.

2._____Living plants or trees in the sanctuary to purify air and to be “worshipers”!

3._____Beeswax candles rather than (oil-based) paraffin wax candles.

4._____Local wine for communion

5._____Practice intinction or have re-usable glasses (not plastic) for communion.

6._____Wash communion vessels/ glasses with eco-safe dish-washing detergent.

7._____Provide communion bread of whole grain, organic and locally grown.

8._____Purchase fair trade palm fronds for Palm Sunday.

9._____Limit or eliminate use of paper for bulletins. Re-use where possible.

11.____Use post-consumer waste/ recycled paper for bulletins.

10.____Place basket near exit for recycling worship materials.

12.____Consider the origin of the paraments made for worship.

13.____Use outside light where feasible.

14.____Use outside air and fans instead of air conditioner where feasible.

15.____Use live Christmas tree and then plant on church property.

16.____Green decorations for holidays.

17.____Worship outside in nature.

18.____Safe disposal of batteries from wireless microphones.


Section 1: Office (6-15)

1._____Use post-consumer/ recycled paper

2._____Paper-use guidelines to limit use and for efficient use/ reuse.

3._____Recycle paper, ink cartridges.

4.­­­­­_____Proper disposal of batteries, computers, printers, copiers.

5._____Limit mailings/ use e-mail.

6._____Unplug computers/ printers/ coffee makers/ microwaves when not in use.

7._____Use fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate.

8._____Healthy snacks.

9._____Purchase Energy Star appliances when replacing equipment.

10.____Cut down on junk mail. Notify senders.

11.____Bring plants into office for beauty and to purify air.

12.____Use refilled/ recycled ink and toner cartridges when feasible.

13.____Limit number of copies for use by groups.

14.____Use white or pastel color paper. Bright colors do not recycle.


Section 1: Education (6-15)

1._____Art projects: avoid craft foam products and wax (oil-based) crayons.

2._____Use recycled paper.

3._____Provide recycling bins in classrooms.

4._____Limit photocopies of material.


Section 2: Coffee hour, receptions, and congregational meals (16-22)

1._____Eliminate Styrofoam, plastic cups, and disposable paper and plastic products.

2._____Provide mug rack.

3._____Encourage people to bring their own plates, cups, and utensils to meals.

4._____Provide/collect ceramic plates and cups, glasses, and stainless-steel utensils.

5._____Purchase efficient Energy Star dish washer and other appliances.

6._____Use eco-safe dish-washing detergents and cleansers.

7._____Provide healthy/ organic/ locally grown food items for snacks and meals.

8._____Minimize waste from food or paper/ plastic products.

9._____If you cannot eliminate waste, use biodegradable plastic options now available.

10.____Use Fair-Trade coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.

11.____Share leftover food. Compost food waste.

12.____Consider cloth napkins/ towels with member using laundry facilities at home

13.____Establish guidelines for the congregation and for outside groups using facility.

14.____For dishwashing and laundering, establish a church team, rotate use, or take a collection each time to pay a person who especially needs the money.

15.____Avoid running water unnecessarily.

16.____Turn out lights when not needed.

17.____Unplug stove, microwave, and coffee maker when not in use.

18.____Use post-consumer paper products for napkins and towels.

19.____Get rid of soda machines/ Use refrigerator and honor system.


Section 3: Energy usage: Electricity (24-40)

1._____Get off the grid with renewable energy: photovoltaic panels or wind mills.

2._____Replace all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Exit lights.

3._____Retrofit fluorescent lighting and replace bulbs with the most efficient available.

4._____Use electric timers on some indoor and outdoor lights. Use motion sensitive lights.

5._____Avoid (high energy) halogen lights.

6._____Use photovoltaic panels for exterior lighting or church sign.


Section 3: Energy Usage: Heat (24-40)

1._____Get off the grid with renewable energy: geothermal, wind, solar (hot water).

2._____Inspect, adjust, and clean all heating and air conditioning systems.

3._____Remove obstacles from vents and registers.

4._____Moderate heat throughout building to times and areas of use.

5._____Use ceiling fans for cooling.

6._____Raise thermostat for cooling in summer. Lower it in winter.

7._____Fix leaking faucets.

8._____Insulate hot water pipes and water heater. Use tank-less water heater.

9._____Purchase high-efficiency, Energy Star water heater and dish washer.

10.____Seal air leaks in door, windows, and gaps in the building envelope.

11.____Insulate walls and ceilings.

12.____Purchase energy-efficient windows.

13.____Use dishwasher only when full.

14.____Limit meetings to certain nights/ times for energy consumption.

15.____Foster practices among members to turn out lights when not in use.


Section 4: Paper and wood products (42-49)

1._____Set guidelines for paper use for office, worship, and education.

2._____Use recycled, chlorine-free office paper and envelopes for all uses.

3._____Or provide certified paper (Forest Stewardship Council).

4._____Use recycled paper for products in kitchen and bathrooms.

5._____Reduce paper use in office, worship and education.

6._____Provide handy paper recycling bins in various rooms.

7._____Reduce junk mail. Request senders to eliminate or ask for single catalogues.

8._____Purchase products—furniture/flooring/altars using only certified wood.

9._____Plant trees on church property, at homes/ businesses of members, in community.


Section 5: Water use (50-63)


1._____Repair leaky faucets.

2._____Do not let faucet run while doing other tasks.

3._____Use dishwasher only when full.

4._____Do not contaminate water. Use only eco-friendly dishwashing detergent.

5._____Limit use of garbage disposals. Compost food waste.

6._____Install low-flow (aerator) faucets and dish sprays.

7._____Insulate hot water pipes. 


1._____Replace automatic flush systems with sensor, use-based flush system.

2._____Use hand-motion sensors on faucets.

3._____Repair leaky faucets and toilets.

4._____Install low-flush toilets or composting toilets.

5._____Install low-flow (aerator) faucets.

6._____Insulate hot water pipes.


1._____Eliminate constantly running drinking fountains.

2._____Repair leaking fountains.

Outdoor church property

1._____Landscape with native grass and plants that require little or no water.

2._____Turn a church lot into prairie.

3._____Put in rain gardens to absorb runoff.

4._____Landscape to absorb runoff. Avoid bare areas.

5._____Use mulching mower.

6._____Mulch trees, shrubs, flowers, and gardens.

7._____Eliminate/minimize pesticides, herbicides, and toxic fertilizer.

8._____Limit watering lawn. Water at dusk or dawn. Do not water during droughts.

9._____Use a rain barrel to collect for watering.

10.____Use down spouts to distribute water for watering plants and absorption.

11.____Install a roof-top garden.

12.____Install a grey water system for watering lawn and plants.

13.____Plant trees.

Parking areas

1._____Install permeable surface for parking or walking area.

2._____Limit size of paved surfaces or eliminate with gravel and wood chips.

3._____Provide spaces in the parking area for trees and ground absorption.


Section 6: Green cleaning products (65-70)

1._____Use eco-safe cleansers for restrooms, kitchen, dining areas, and other surfaces.

2._____Use eco-safe detergents/soaps/cleaners for dishes, hands, windows, communion vessels.

3._____Use eco-safe cleaners/shampoos for carpets, tile floors, hardwoods floors.

4._____Use eco-safe waxing products for floors.

5._____Use eco-safe products for cleaning church vehicles.

6._____Use eco-safe detergents for washing cloth napkins, towels, and paraments.


Section 7: Food choices (71-80)

1._____Provide healthy food for snacks and meals.

2._____Purchase organic, locally grown food.

3._____Purchase Fair Trade products where feasible.

4._____Have a vegetarian potluck. Educate about the environmental impact of meat.

5._____Sponsor a world hunger meal with beans and rice or other solidarity food.

6._____Become a drop off point for Community Supported Agriculture. Encourage members to participate.

7._____ Plant a community garden to share with local food banks.


Section 8: Transportation (71-80)

1._____Install bike racks. Encourage walking to church.

2._____Give information about public transportation.

3._____Organize car pooling for church events.

4._____Purchase/ use a van to transport people to church.

5._____Reward pastors and other church workers for using high-mileage cars.

6._____Designate car-free Sundays or months for worship.

7._____Each month have someone check/correct tire pressure of cars in the parking lot.


Section 9: Indoor air quality (89-94)

1._____Test for asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, radon.

2._____Address issues of mold, mildew, bacteria, and dust mites.

3._____Avoid volatile organic compounds from certain cleaning products, furnishings, fabrics, carpets, and paints.

4._____Provide open windows for air circulation.

5._____Put selected plants indoors to serve as air purifiers.


Section 10: Nature inside and out (95-98)

1._____Plants inside: entrance, near windows, at the altar, around the baptismal font, in the office, in the narthex and other gathering spaces.

2._____Bring other life into the church: an aquarium, hamsters, birds.

3._____Ceate an indoor herb garden.

4._____Create an outdoor worship space or place of prayer.

5._____Create a tree sanctuary or memorial garden with benches.

6._____Be creative about the planting of trees, shrubbery, ivies, and flowers.

7._____On an open lot, create a prairie or a small preserve or an orchard.

8._____Use memorial funds and gifts to dedicate trees and natural spaces.


Section 11: Recycling and waste (99-110)

1._____Find out the recycling system in your area for all items. Aim for 100% recycling.

2._____Assess what you buy and the packaging involved. Avoid Styrofoam. Pre-cycle!

3._____Consider reuse as option one.

4._____Recycle office paper (after use of both sides). Recycle newsprint and other paper.

5._____Recycle glass, plastic, steel cans, and aluminum cans.

6._____Consider a convenient recycling center in the church for cell phones, printer cartridges, household batteries, eye glasses, plastic bags, and gym shoes.

7._____Use biodegradable plastic bags for garbage.

8._____Compost food and yard waste.

9._____Have property committee or youth periodically assess church waste stream.

10.____Provide recycling information to members for home use (including toxic disposal).