Green home builder Dan Clere, a 14-year member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, put his faith into action when he spearheaded a project to put solar panels on the roof of his church’s nearly 50-year-old main building. He calls the effort a “natural outgrowth” from the last of the seven Unitarian Universalist Principles: “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”
What started as gentle lobbying grew into a crusade as Clere engaged other solar eco-enthusiasts, creating a net-zero subcommittee to move the project forward and explore Duke Energy rebate incentives. A congregational vote on Memorial Day 2018 won the approval to proceed with financing, and by Labor Day, they had achieved their goal.
“We used easy math,” Clere recalls. “After the Duke rebate, our cost was $70,000: We had to find 100 people to give $700 each.” Ultimately, some families partnered to ‘buy’ a panel, and some bought in honor of their children or grandchildren.
Installation of the church’s 105 panels was completed in March. “When the system is brought online, it will cover about 85% of our [electricity] use on an annual basis,” Clere says. “This is very much part of the fabric of our faith.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.