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Greening faith buildings

The Golden Temple at Amritsar is moving to solar power which will both reduce the carbon footprint and save on energy costs.

This page has not been updated since June 2014.


When a faith group starts to tackle sustainability issues it is important that they take stock of their surroundings. Most faith groups will have community buildings and places of worship and these provide both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to find ways to make them greener, whether through cutting down on wastage, finding new renewable ways to power them or improving the structure to make them efficient and sustainable. The opportunity is to make this a learning experience that helps all members of the congregation become aware of ways to improve their own carbon footprint. A further bonus can be that it offers a splendid example of greener living to the wider community.

Greening faith buildings can seem a daunting task, but valuable pioneering work has already been done across all the major faiths in many different parts of the world. The learning from these experiences has been put into a wide range of resources to help encourage others. Even better, these useful tools are now often available free to download from the internet. The list below can take you to many inspiring, informative and - most importantly - practical handbooks and resources to get your building on the road to sustainability.

In the community kitchen at the Hindu shrine in Tirupati over 50,000k of rice is cooked every day using solar power.

Greening your faith building - useful links

Green Pilgrimage Handbook The GPN handbook offers a good basic overview of issues in greening up faith buildings, including many examples of good ideas put into practice from the GPN network.

Green Up My Community A lively guidebook for mosques and Islamic organisations

GreenFaith Certification Programme The US based interfaith organisation GreenFaith offers a two-year environmental leadership programme for houses of worship

Daoist Ecological Temple Handbook This handbook includes relevant Daoist teachings as well as guidance about green changes to temples.

The Christian retreat centre of Lee Abbey uses a fast flowing stream to generate hydroelectricity
Green Sanctuary Manual published by the Unitarian Universalist Association in the USA the manual shows in detail the processes of introducing green thinking, making plans and carrying out actions to achieve change.

Green Gurdwara This highly detailed design manual was created for Gurdwaras all over India but is an immensely useful technical support for any faith group.

Environmental Guidelines for Karma Kagyu Buddhist Monasteries, Centres and Communities created for Buddhists by the Karmapa, Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, in partnership with Dekila Chungyalpa from WWF International, the advice and information in this thorough document is largely applicable to everyone.

Cool Congregations Start-Up Kit A toolkit of ideas from the US Interfaith Power and Light programme aimed at faith groups wanting to play their part in reducing global warming.


Further information

Our green resources page offers a wider list of on-line resources addressing all aspects of faith-based environmental action.


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Related information

GPN best practice
Inspiring stories of green action from the first members of the Green Pilgrimage Network
January 8, 2014:
Islamic green awards launched for UK mosques
MADE in Europe - the UK-based campaigning organisation for young Muslims - has launched the Green Up! Awards to encourage mosques and other Islamic groups to address environmental issues in line with Qur'anic teaching.
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