Clergy and lay leaders from faith communities across Iowa will meet today for a conference on climate change. Reverend Susan Guy, executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, says the meeting in the central Iowa town of Granger will zero in on climate change issues and how churches, synagogues and mosques can make a difference — by reducing their carbon footprints.

“Certainly the way that we use energy is one of those issues that impacts climate change,” Reverend Guy says. “This year, we decided to really focus our efforts around teaching how congregations can be better stewards of their energy use in their facilities.”

Many of the concepts they’ll discuss at the third annual “Faith in a Changing Climate” conference are the same sorts of practices we put in place in our homes to save on our utility bills.

Guy says, “It is things like turning off lights and adjusting the thermostat but there are also larger issues in some of these older buildings in terms of doors and windows that are leaking air, insulation, having the proper HVAC system.”

Heating and cooling by zone is another topic, as is lighting. They’ll also discuss how facilities can make a full assessment of needs — then work to address them.

“Ultimately, at the end, we want congregations to be able to have more money to put into their mission,” Guy says. “The less you spend on your utility bills, the more you have for your mission.” She adds: “Lowering our energy demand has implications not just for our congregational finances but ultimately for how we take care of Creation.”

The conference is being held at the Jester Park Lodge in Granger. Iowa Interfaith Power & Light is a response of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities to climate change, working with more than 300 congregations in Iowa.

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