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Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta
1911 Cliff Valley Way NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
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The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta (UUCA) has grown from Universalist (1879) and Unitarian (1882) churches, and traces its recent history to the United Liberal Church, which was founded in 1952.  Its history and the story of its buildings since the 1950's have been shaped by its commitment to social justice and its status as the first racially integrated congregation in Atlanta. Since 1966, it has been located at 1911 Cliff Valley Way. With a diverse population of 800 members and friends and a wide variety of programs, UUCA is the largest UU church in the Southeast.

Construction of UUCA's original facility was completed in 1966. The church received two design awards: an Honor Award for Excellence in Design from the National Conference of Church Architecture and an Award of Merit from the American Society for Church Architecture. There was little investment in energy efficiency until 2002. At that point, the original building had no roof insulation, leaky metal frame windows with single glazing, and an original gas boiler that was falling apart. The 10-ton AC condensers installed in the 1960's were still trying to be used to cool the sanctuary and classrooms more than 30 years later--when they worked at all. The technicians sent to repair them had to be over 50 years old to have any experience working with them.  Mechanical timers operated the AC, rather than thermostats. The hot water heating system throughout the building was on one zone. It was either Full On or Full Off (with uneven results).

In 2000, the church leadership envisioned a $3 million renovation and addition to the church.  From the beginning, sustainability was the center point of the capital campaign, design, and construction. Formal LEED certification was not available for renovations at that time, but each step of the design process was scored against the LEED criteria and raised whenever possible. The result is an expanded facility using less than half the natural gas as before and substantially less electricity.

For the original facility, R-30 insulation was added to the existing roof; existing windows were replaced with double glazed, operable wood windows; and a new high-efficiency boiler was installed along with eight new zone controls. Natural lighting was introduced in the sanctuary through clerestory windows. Incandescent lighting in the corridors was converted to compact fluorescent. New low-flow toilets were added.

The new office addition incorporated R-30 roof insulation, R-22 cellulose wall insulation, and external sunscreens to reduce solar heat gain. Large areas of exterior and interior glazing optimize natural daylighting. There are four heating/cooling zones with puron-based AC systems. The addition was framed with wood instead of metal to reduce the carbon footprint. All foundations and all other new concrete contained 5 percent fly ash. Low VOC materials and finishes were used throughout. The roofing material was white to reduce solar heat gain.

UUCA's commitment to sustainability extends beyond our building. Our Sustainable Living Initiative aims to make UUCA a leader in equipping people to lead sustainable lives both in the congregation and the wider world. It's the next chapter in UUCA's 40-year history of working for social justice and the environment. Sustainable living is about "...taking care of ourselves, other people, and the earth. It affirms that our personal well being depends upon the wellbeing of all creatures and all people, near and far and yet to be born. It is a journey of personal and communal growth, rooted in a vision of the interconnected web of all existence. It calls us to practice good stewardship of the gifts of life as well as loving kindness towards all people and all creation."

More than 50 people came together in March 2009 to create "big hairy audacious congregational sustainability goals." People voted for the goals simply by volunteering to work on them. Four teams guided by Reverend David carry forward the goals and projects described below.

The Happiness Team celebrates and strengthens individual efforts to live sustainably. Currently we're working on:

The Story Team tells our stories in profound and inspiring ways, to help UUCA and the world thrive. Currently we're working on: The Service Team gives rise to life-changing experiences of service and leadership. Currently we're working on: The Zero Footprint Team works to lower UUCA's environmental footprint to zero. Currently we're working on:


Our communications will be both internal and external: within the wider Unitarian-Universalist community to the district and national organs.

Locally, we will submit a media release to our daily and weekly print list, as well as radio and television stations, and follow up with faith reporters and environmental reporters.


"Inspired by our Unitarian Universalist affirmation of the "interdependent web of all existence," UUCA is on a collective journey of sustainable living. We're looking for solutions that honor the environment even as they grow the economy, create a more just world, and strengthen our individual lives."
-- Rev. Anthony David, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta

Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application. Building energy performance, operating characteristics, and ownership/management may be subject to change over time.

Service Provider:
CDH Partners

Building Owner:*
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta

Property Manager:*
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta

Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
2009 (76)

Facility Type: Worship Facility

Total Floorspace: 28939 sf

Year Constructed: 1965

Contract Type: Multiple Contractor Contracts
Financing Type: Loan

Technologies Used:
   Stage 2-Lighting
   Stage 3-Load Reductions
   Stage 5-Heating and Cooling Plant
   Other Technologies/Strategies