First Universalist Church, Denver, Colorado | This community put their ‘why’ into action by honoring one of the central tenets of their faith —“respect the interdependent web of all existence” — with a large-scale renovation of their existing building. Using recycled and repurposed materials, spray-foam insulation, solar panels, and a geothermal heat system, the new worship sanctuary and event space were constructed to operate entirely on clean, renewable energy — with zero greenhouse gas emissions. Jessica Montgomerie, a staff member at First Universalist, noted that “adding the additional component of the solar and geothermal was an investment in our future.”

This building project was member-driven, member-led, and member-financed, and some of the engineering and design work was provided by experts within the congregation, like solar expert John Bringenberg and engineer Milt Hetrick.

First Universalist now provides a model to show other faith communities how they also can live their values with buildings that benefit all life on earth. As Rev Dylan Doyle-Burke says of the project, our values are not just being renewable, not just being sustainable, but in reality, being regenerative for the world.”  Check out the video to learn more about these inspired people and their inspiring building!

GUIDED TOUR – December 11th, 2021 @ 10:30 am 

First Universalist Church of Denver put their “why” into action by honoring one of the central tenets of their faith —“respect the interdependent web of all existence” – with a large-scale renovation of their existing building.

The First Universalist Church used recycled and repurposed materials, spray-foam insulation, solar panels, and a geothermal heat system. The building operates entirely on clean, renewable energy, and the new worship sanctuary and event space function at a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Join Heart of a Building’s Executive Producer and Host Paul Kriescher for an exclusive guided tour of the building facility. You will explore the entire church building and learn the details of the solar panel array and ground-source heat pump system. This tour will take about 90 minutes and is limited to 10 registrants, first-come, first-serve, with a waitlist. Masks are required.







From the Ground-Up is a creation-care story about a bottom-up [grassroots] initiative started by a small group of concerned church members. They were committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to less than 2°C. This story begins as a renovation project at First Universalist Church, Denver, Colorado. 

The initial project goals were: 
• Fix a leaky roof, 
• Accommodate more people in a larger Sanctuary, 
• Provide more classroom space, 
• Replace aging equipment, and 
• Consume less energy – install new windows, add insulation, and update the lighting. 

But something else occurred that caused the renovation project to grow in scope. A small group of people within the congregation were concerned was the climate crisis. The new goal was to transform the church facility to stop doing harm by transitioning to a sustainable renewable energy system with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. A sustainable energy system required new 21st-century equipment and more financial resources. The prevailing attitude at the mere mention of this idea in the renovation plan was, “We cannot afford it.”

 When the capital campaign to raise money for the renovation project ended with a significant shortfall, the proposed new energy system was deleted from the remodeling budget. The Green First Team took on the challenge to find financing for the new sustainable energy equipment. They raised the necessary capital using a combination of donations and low-interest member loans. The financing plan for the new system was designed to be “revenue neutral” and not require an increase in the church operating budget. In fact, the new green energy system is expected to cost less than the fossil fuel-based system over a 20-year time frame. 

During the renovation, energy-conserving changes were made to the facility including new windows, additional insulation, elimination of air leaks, and installation of Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) units. The facility now operates with net-zero carbon emissions by using solar electric and ground-source heat pump furnaces for heating and cooling. No longer do they import and burn unsustainable fossil fuel that contributes to the climate crisis. The new sustainable energy system harvests inexhaustible energy that is already on-site provided by the Sun and Earth. PURCHASE THE BOOK ON AMAZON HERE >