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Needham, Mass. Church is 1st in New England to Receive Energy Star Label

Release Date: 06/16/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, 617-918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – June 16, 2010) – First Parish in Needham Unitarian Universalist is the first house of worship in New England to receive an EPA Energy Star label, an energy efficiency standard that certifies that they are in the top 25 percent of houses of worship in the United States. First Parish in Needham is one of just nine houses of worship in the country to receive the label.

“First Parish in Needham has successfully accepted the challenge of dealing with energy issues and sets a terrific example for the many houses of worship across New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “We hope more small businesses and congregations across New England states will follow their lead and maximize energy efficiency opportunities in their own operations.”

First Parish was founded in 1711, and is considered Needham’s oldest religious community. Its public meeting house was built in 1836 and is the oldest public building in Needham. In 2007-8, the church replaced its old Parish Hall with an environmentally progressive building that is 25 percent larger than the old hall. Despite the increase in size and addition of air conditioning units, the new building has reduced the parish’s utility costs by more than 50 percent and reduced its carbon footprint up to 43 percent, according to Ed Quinlan, Property Committee Chairman.

First Parish’s commitment to the environment is also shown in its use of environmentally friendly materials such as paints, carpets, furniture, and flooring harvested from sustainable forests. “Through this achievement, we have shown our commitment to environmental stewardship while also lowering our energy costs,” Quinlan said.

Elements that contributed to facilities energy efficiency include: high-efficiency argon filled windows; an improved ventilation system that allows for heat recovery, high-efficiency air conditioning; separate temperature control for all spaces; passive heating in Parish Hall; high-efficiency light fixtures with motion-controlled sensors; and Energy Star appliances.

First Parish has shown that without sacrificing comfort, modern features or convenience, they have made a significant contribution to a cleaner environment by strategically managing the energy performance of their facility. Most congregations can cut energy costs by up to 30 percent by investing strategically in efficient equipment, facility upgrades and maintenance. With free technical support from Energy Star, congregations can reduce their energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions.

More information:

- Energy Star for Congregations (

- Free webinar on using Portfolio Manager for Houses of Worship on June 17, 2010 ( Register for the 6/17 webinar entitled "Portfolio Manager 101 for New England Worship Facilities."

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