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ENERGY STAR Labeled Building Profile

First Parish in Needham
23 Dedham Avenue
Needham, MA 02492
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First Parish in Needham, MA, Unitarian Universalist, is the first house of worship in Massachusetts to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's prestigious ENERGY STAR, the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. First Parish earned a score of 94 on EPA's 1-100 Energy Performance Scale. 

Co-founded with the town in 1711, First Parish is Needham's oldest religious community. Its current meeting house was built in 1836 and is the oldest public building in Needham. In 2007-8, the church was completely renovated, with added meeting space and classrooms, which created a larger, more useful and environmentally progressive house of worship.

The renovated 15,000-square-foot building, which is 25 percent larger than the old, contains a beautiful and spacious meeting hall, offices, classrooms, and historic sanctuary.  Despite its larger size and the addition of air conditioning, the new building has reduced First Parish's utility costs 50 percent and its carbon footprint 43 percent based on actual utility bills. Through this achievement, the church has shown our commitment to environmental stewardship while also lowering our energy costs.

Elements that contribute to the building's energy efficiency include:

  • High efficiency, gas-fired, condensing boiler
  • High-efficiency argon-filled windows
  • An improved ventilation system that allows for heat recovery
  • High-efficiency air conditioning, with eco-friendly refrigerants
  • Separate temperature control for all spaces
  • Extensive passive heating in Parish Hall, along with "free-cooling" using carbon dioxide sensors
  • High efficiency light fixtures throughout and motion-controlled switches in many rooms
  • ENERGY STAR qualified appliances
  • High R-rated insulation in all walls and roof
  • Low-flow toilets, with separate settings for liquid and solid waste and automatic low-flush flush urinals
  • Retention of storm water onsite, reducing load on the public sewer system

First Parish's commitment to the environment is also shown in its use of materials, such as maple flooring harvested from sustainable forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and paints, carpets, furniture, and other materials chosen for their environmental friendliness. The building is also pre-wired and piped to accommodate a five-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof to generate electricity. This final addition will mark the completion of the greening of First Parish.


Item                                      Old First Parish                 New First Parish             Reduction

Heat Energy                       62,152 BTU/SF/Yr             17,867 BTU/SF/Yr             72%

Electric Energy                   19,754 BTU/SF/Yr             28,857 BTU/SF/Yr            -46%

Total Energy                       81,906 BTU/SF/Yr             46,724 BTU/SF/Yr             43%

Water Consumption           184,756 Gallons                  90,508 Gallons/Yr             51%

Greenhouse Gas               11.6 #CO2/SF/Yr                   5.3 #CO2/SF/Yr              54%

Utility Costs                        $1.66/SF/Yr                         $0.81/SF/Yr                   51%


The renovation of First Parish in Needham as an example of the Green Sanctuary movement was highlighted in an article published in the Boston Globe on Sunday, October 26, 2008.



Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by First Parish in Needham 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.

Building Owner:*
First Parish in Needham

Property Manager:*

Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
2010 (94)
2011 (95)
2014 (98)

Facility Type: Worship Facility

Total Floorspace: 15659 sf

Year Constructed: 1836

Contract Type: None

Technologies Used:
   Stage 2-Lighting
   Stage 3-Load Reductions
   Stage 4-Fan Systems
   Stage 5-Heating and Cooling Plant
   Other Technologies/Strategies