If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.
--Lyndon B. Johnson

Spotlight on Friends Meeting of Austin

When Friends Meeting of Austin purchased the house of worship formerly occupied by St. James Episcopal Church in East Austin, they saw an opportunity to go green in a big way. For the sixty-year old congregation, becoming more energy efficient and environmentally conscious was simply an act of faith.

Since they moved to their new building in 2007, Friends Meeting of Austin (FMA) has taken numerous steps to ensure that they are a more energy efficient congregation. Most prominent is the 20 kilowatt solar system that was installed on the congregation's three buildings. FMA got help from the City of Austin's rebate program to cover the cost of installation, and believe that the solar panels will pay for themselves in less than 20 years. The Friends Meeting of Austin agrees that this step was a great investment and important step in becoming greener.

Furthermore, FMA has made several other improvements to their building to become more energy efficient. From tearing down paneling so they can better insulate the building, to tearing up the front lawn to find and fix a very leaky pipe, the Austin Friends have done it all.

Although FMA has received the most attention for their major solar project and large-scale efficiency upgrades, member Belle Zars thinks it’s all the "little things" that add up to make the most difference. FMA has taken on many energy projects that require little more than a change in mindset. This includes keeping the thermostat at 78 degrees when the building is in use (and turning it off otherwise), only using the main building when necessary, recycling and reducing trash, and limiting mowing and watering of the three-acre grounds. Bike racks have also been installed and members are encouraged to ride the bus or carpool to meeting.

Texas Interfaith Power and Light applauds Friends Meeting of Austin for all the extraordinary effort that its members give to make their congregation greener. Thank you!

And what about St. James Episcopal Church? They’ve moved into new digs and accomplished a number of impressive green initiatives of their own. Look for a feature on them coming soon!

Cool Cities Comes to the Houston Area!

Join the
Gulf Coast Cool Cities Campaign!

Team Formation Meetings in Greater Houston Area

Sierra Club and Texas Interfaith Power & Light are getting more cities on board the Cool Cities train!
We are expanding the Cool Cities campaign and forming teams in suburbs all around the Houston area. Be part of this positive, solutions-oriented campaign! Each team's charge is to ask its mayor to address global warming by embracing energy efficiency at the local level. This is an excellent first-time volunteer opportunity that has a specific objective and a limited time commitment.
You do not have to be a member of either organization to participate. No previous experience is necessary. We'll teach you everything you need to know.
RSVP is appreciated but not required. Contact Ann Drumm,
anndrumm@swbell.net, 214-350-6108 or 214-675-0040 (cell).


Read More

Global Warming: Twenty Years Later

During a speech yesterday in Washington that commemorated the 20 years since his declaration to the Senate that global warming had already begun, Jim Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, spoke out about cutting the level of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Hansen argued that in order to stabilize the world's climate, the US must cut carbon dioxide emissions to 350 parts per million. This is 30 percent lower than a Senate bill that calls for a cap at 450 ppm, and lower than our current output of 385 ppm.

"I have greater than 99% confidence—99.9% confidence—that the dangerous level is no higher than 350 ppm, and that means we've already passed it," Hansen said.

Hansen called for a "zero-carbon society" and proposed a plan to limit emissions. Under his plan, oil, gas, coal, and other fossil fuels would be taxed at the point of sale. Proceeds would be distributed in dividend payments to individuals, which would encourage the sale of low-carbon cars, among other products.

In response to the recent talk about offshore drilling and expanded American oil production, Hansen was adamant that it is "exactly the wrong thing to do." He said that while short-term gains may be made, they would only continue to damage climate health in the long-term.

"It just extends your addiction slightly and guarantees we'll go past the tipping point of irreversible climate change," he says.

Don't Have a Cow!

Submitted by Guest (not verified) on Mon, 2008-06-16 15:27

CFLCompact Fluorescent Light bulbs, or CFLs, have been touted as a way to greatly reduce our electricity consumption.

Mercury in CFLs vs. Power Plants

There has been concern lately about mercury found in CFLs. While mercury is a concern, it is important to note that by using these bulbs, we are in fact helping to reduce our mercury output.

Currently, the amount of mercury released into our landfills from CFLs is negligible. Because of these bulbs’ long lifespan, only after 2010 will a majority of the CFLs currently in use need to be disposed of. At this time, it is estimated that roughly 80 to 100 million CFLs will be disposed of improperly. This number may sound considerable, but when you do the math, the amount of mercury in this large number of CFLs is only about 500 kilograms, or the

Bee Moorhead to Speak at Texas Annual Conference UMC Lunch

What’s the big deal about faith and the environment?

The news these days is full of “congregations caring for God’s creation.” But with all the other issues facing our world, is the environment really a top priority? How does environmental concern flow from a religious life? Do faith communities have a role to play in environmental policy? How can we maintain hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable environmental problems?

Let’s talk about it over lunch!

Come to the 7th Annual Peace with Justice Luncheon of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church for a conversation with Bee Moorhead, Executive Director of Texas Impact and Texas Interfaith Power & Light. Joining Bee will be former Texas Public Utility Commissioner Karl Rábago.

12 noon – 2pm
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

$16.00 per person.
Reservation deadline is May 20, 2008. Please mail your check made out to the Texas Annual Conference UMC to:

Bren Hardt
10375 New Wedham Rd.
Brenham, TX 77833

For more information, call 979-830-5210 or email bbhardt@gmail.com


(Photo "Earth From Space With Stars" by User DonkeyHotey used under a Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial License.)

Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday Memorial Day Weekend

This year marks the first year that Texans can save money in two ways: in the short term thanks to a sales tax holiday on purchases of Energy Star products, and in the long term through energy savings from their use. The Texas Legislature established Texas' Energy Star sales tax holiday in 2007 as part of HB3693, a comprehensive energy efficiency bill which Texas religious communities helped to support. Texas is the fourth state to adopt an energy efficiency sales tax holiday.


The products qualifying for the exemption are:

  • air conditioners priced under $6,000, both room and central units
  • clothes washers, but not clothes dryers
  • ceiling fans
  • dehumidifiers
  • dishwashers
  • light bulbs (incandescent and fluorescent)
  • programmable thermostats
  • refrigerators priced under $2,000

Find out more HERE.


Texas Solar Forum Makes the Business Case for Solar

solar array On April 24-25, solar industry leaders and policymakers from around the nation and beyond met at the Texas Capitol to chart a course for Texas' solar future. The event, sponsored by a number of organizations including Texas Interfaith Power & Light, drew more than 400 attendees. Keynote speakers included former Texas Public Utility Commissioner Pat Wood, who is widely credited with spearheading the development of the Texas wind industry through Texas' unique renewable portfolio standard, and Alexander Karsner, Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Without exception, speakers at the event stressed the urgency of climate change and escalating prices for conventional power, and the need for Texas to move quickly to deploy significant solar projects at both the utility and consumer scales. "The technology, the economics, the opportunity are all on our side," said Karsner, "and time is not."


Download Andy Karsner's Address (mp3)

Watch a Three-Minute Video on Texas' Solar Potential!

Texas receives more solar radiation than any other state and is number one in terms of its solar potential. According to an analysis by the Renewable Energy Policy Project, Texas could attract five billion dollars in investment and create six thousand new jobs by the year 2015 in the photovoltaic industry alone, with the right incentives. Texas is a natural world leader in this important industry, but as the rest of the global solar industry is growing at an astounding rate, Texas has not kept pace and lacks a clear roadmap for the future.

Find out more about the Texas Solar Forum


Power Points from the Conference





BP Solar




West Texas Wind








(Photo "solar panels" by User Christine used under a Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

In the News: CFLs are Safe, Just Follow Simple Steps if One Breaks

Worried about the trace amounts of mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs? The bulbs save energy and help the environment. It's unllikely yours will break--but if you do accidentally end up with a broken bulb, there are a few simple steps to cleaning it up properly.  

Watch KVUE's feature on how to clean up a broken CFL


What to do if a CFL breaks:

--Open a window, turn off the air conditioning and leave the room for at least 15 minutes.

--Scoop up the glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or
cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealed
plastic bag.

--Use sticky tape to pick up any remaining fragments or powder.

--Wipe the area with damp paper towels and place them and anything else
that touched the debris in the sealed jar or plastic bag.

--Wash your hands.



Austin Chronicle features Bee as a Green Leader!

The "Green Crush" issue of this week's Austin Chronicle contains an article that features Bee Moorhead, Executive Director of Texas Impact/TXIPL. The article discusses the efforts made by Texas Interfaith Power & Light for our environmental sustainability by reaching out to the faith community of Texas. Take a look at some of the things congregations and people of faith are doing around Austin to really build an ongoing relationship with creation!

Click here to check it out!

Other featured articles highlight the work of other Austin green heroes, including Brandi Clark and Chris Searles. Click here to take a look at some of the "gods and goddesses of greendom."


This Austin Chronicle issue also lists upcoming free and kid-friendly eco-events, such as Earth Day (Saturday, April 19th) at Republic Square Park, and discussses the progress that the City of Austin is making toward carbon neutrality.

Earth Day with Austin's Mayor Wynn at Central Christian Church

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Central Christian Church
1110 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701

7:00 PM Presentation by Mayor Wynn
8:00 PM A Faith-Based Response

Please join us on EARTH DAY 2008 for an interfaith public forum with Mayor Will Wynn on the Austin Climate Protection Plan.

There will be a reception following the presentation in the Community Room. All are welcome!

Mayor Wynn's Austin Climate Protection Plan, approved by the City Council in February, will make Austin first in the nation in the reduction of greenhouse gases. As part of this five-part municipal plan, all City of Austin facilities and transportation fleets will be carbon-neutral by 2020, energy efficiency of new construction will increase 75% by 2015, and individuals and businesses will receive incentives to achieve carbon neutrality.

If all this sounds ambitious, it is! Austin will be in the forefront of American cities in the fight against global warming. Come and find out how faith communities can support the Austin Climate Protection Plan.

Mayor Will Wynn received training from Al Gore at The Climate Project in Nashville in January. Mayor Wynn was featured in Time Magazine's watershed issue on global warming as well as Newsweek's "The Greening of America" issue. He has spoken on this pressing issues throughout the United States and has been invited to speak at the United Nations session on renewable energy in Bonn, Germany.