National Interfaith Power and Light

Become a National Interfaith Power & Light Cool Congregation

Our parent organization Interfaith Power & Light offers certification as a Cool Congregation for groups that have reduced their energy use by 10% to 40%. You can read about the certification here, and apply here.

National Interfaith Power and Light offers Cool Congregations and a carbon footprint calculator. 

Recieve acknowledgment for your congregations hard work!

Enter the Cool Congregation Challenge through National Interfaith Power and Light and win $1000 In one of these 5 Categories:

1. COOL CONGREGATIONS PLANNER Audits • Planning Reports • Fundraising

2. ENERGY SAVER Lighting • Insulation • Windows & Doors • Heating & Cooling Systems

3. RENEWABLE ROLE MODEL Solar • Wind • Geothermal • Solar Water Heating

4. SACRED GROUNDS STEWARD Native Landscaping • Organic Gardening • Water Conservation • Bike Racks • Wildlife Habitats • Recycling & Composting

5. COMMUNITY INSPIRATION This includes congregations that inspire congregants to save energy at home. It may also include congregations working within their communities to assist in adapting to and coping with climate change.

Click here for more info on how to enter the Cool Congregation Challenge.

Past Cool Congregation winners from Indiana

2016 Honorable Mention – SACRED GROUNDS Category

2016 Project Eden
Irvington Presbyterian Church
Indianapolis, IN

Project Eden Urban Garden is the conversion of a 4ft wide by 300 ft wide strip of land between the Irvington Library, located at 5625 E Washington St, Indianapolis, and Irvington Presbyterian Church (IPC), located at 55 Johnson Ave, into a garden and orchard to provide food for the local food pantry, ICAN, and beautify the neighborhood.

On Thursday and Friday, plans are to plant 12 fruit and nut trees, some grasses, rose bushes, raspberries, and over 400 flower bulbs. Saturday will be to finish up any planting and spread 12 yards of mulch.

2014 National Winner – SACRED GROUNDS STEWARD Category


St. Peter’s United Church of Christ
Carmel, IN
Faith tradition: United Church of Christ

Cost Savings: $2,000 annual savings
CO2 Reduction: 3.7 metric tons CO2 per year

St. Peter’s UCC has approximately 2.5 acres of ground surrounding the church building, much of it having been planted in turf years ago. The turf area has not been used frequently either by the church nor the surrounding community. Some years ago the church established, and currently maintains, a Peace Garden where vegetables are grown for local food banks, but most of the land remained in turf. The property has a dry detention basin created by the city of Carmel as part of its storm drainage system that is adjacent to a major limited access road. The parking lot for the church also created a runoff area that caused erosion and pooling of water both in the lot area and in an adjacent turf area near the church building. Several individuals with a shared passion for improving the landscaping by using native plantings came together in the fall of 2013 to consider ways to better manage the perennial water runoff problem while at the same time creating a more sustainable environment and native habitat.

A comprehensive plan that included specific site development and plants to be used was developed by Dr. David Benson, member of the church and Professor at Marian University, along with several other members of the church. A committee was formed to bring the plan to the congregation and, after approval by the church members, was charged with its implementation. The plan envisioned two rain gardens and a bioswale, along with a watershed area planted with trees and shrubs and a prairie, covering approximately two acres of ground. The plan called for more than 6,000 plant plugs, 2 acres of prairie and wetland seed mix, and 60 native trees and shrubs as part of the watershed and management system. In the spring of 2014 the project became a reality. Once established, native sedges, grasses and wildflowers will help reduce contaminated water reaching the White River by filtering the water as it passes through the church property and into the storm drain system, as well as keeping the flow more manageable during our prolific rains.

Two existing runoff areas, including a detention pond, were graded for planting of the 6,000+ plugs of sedges, grasses and wild flowers. Volunteers from the congregation and outside community spent over 300 hours planting and caring for the gardens and bioswale in the spring and summer 2014. In the fall 2014 trees and shrubs were planted according to our master plan and, again, volunteers assisted by planting, staking and mulching. A prairie area will also be seeded before the end of the year 2014. To date, the rain gardens and bioswale are already lush with plants and have made a significant difference in the runoff. Along with volunteer time and donations from the congregation, various grants and outside support have helped make this possible.

The primary concerns of the congregation were to lessen our carbon footprint, to manage runoff more effectively, to provide educational opportunities for our preschool program and general community and to provide an area for a variety of activities and functions for the church and wider community. Many in the congregation were particularly pleased that we were going to become better stewards of our property and would be participating in actually doing something concrete to mitigate the effects of our generally careless and destructive approach to the environment. As the plants grew during the summer months, the sheer beauty of what we were establishing had its impact on the church and broader community. We’ve also had several opportunities to share our project with various groups. As people see what we are doing and learn more about the benefits of the project, they become increasingly interested and excited about the possibilities. The church anticipates becoming a leader in educating the community about the benefits of creating and developing more sustainable environments and will actively encourage others to consider similar plans.

2013 Honorable Mentions

2013 Renewable Role Model
Unitarian Universalist Church, Bloomington, IN

2013 Sacred Grounds Steward
North Christian Church. Fort Wayne, IN

2012 Honorable Mentions

2012 Energy Efficiency and Conservation
St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Bloomington, Indiana

2012 Engaging Congregants and Communities
Unitarian-Universalist Church of Bloomington, Bloomington, IN

2011 National Winner

Congregation Beth Shalom
3750 E. Third St.
Bloomington, Indiana 47401

As of October, over one third of Congregation Beth Shalom’s households have reduced their energy use by at least one seventh (14%) and/or their carbon footprint to significantly less than half the average for an American household of their size. These reductions fulfill Beth Shalom’s Till & Tend Home Energy Reduction Pledge, signed by 39% of the households and ten of the twelve board members. Beth Shalom promoted energy reduction through: Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light’s Task of the Month Program; scriptural teachings; participatory intergenerational holiday programs; an interactive bulletin board featuring each month’s energy-reducing task; discounted supplies; and monthly newsletter interviews on what members have done and what challenges they face. Teams have been providing weatherizing assistance to households that request it. Tweens from Christian, Muslim, and their own congregation weatherized the homes of older members, and a contractor worked with Beth Shalom and Islamic Center teens to insulate an attic. Beth Shalom reduced its congregational building’s energy usage by one-seventh and equipped and inspired over a third of their members to do the same. Their goal is to help create a tipping point, inspiring more of their members and other congregations in the city and state to follow suit.

2011 Honorable Mentions

2011 Inspiring Congregants to Reduce Energy Footprint at Home
Congregation Beth Shalom, Bloomington, Indiana