The Mountain’s Energy Initiative

The Mountain’s Energy Initiative

The 2018 Southern Unitarian Universalist Fall Institute (SUUFI) theme was “Aging to Saging.”  Some participants were considering their legacy as people who care deeply about the long-term thriving of The Mountain.

Being concerned about the Mountain’s annual utility expense of about $75,000 and the large carbon footprint, a few people were inspired to do something about this to reduce expenses, as well as living the UU 7th Principle of the interdependent web.  Another anticipated outcome is to provide more comfortable spaces for guests and staff.

Within a couple of days, almost $45,000 was raised through donations and pledges.  The project was launched, making this vision a reality.  The Mountain Endowment Board decided to support this project with an additional $10,000.

In November 2018, The Mountain Board approved the proposal, focusing on the following:

Strategic Plan Goal 4.4. Implement a coordinated and integrated environmental sustainability program for The Mountain (2018–2021).

  1. Evaluate and implement needed improvements in reduce, reuse, recycle and composting practices and procedures across The Mountain (2018).
  2. Identify deficiencies in lighting, heating, and insulation through an energy audit conducted by a local utility in all facilities (2018) and make needed improvements (e.g., smart technology, such as thermostats) (2020).
  3. Add alternate energy sources (e.g., wind or solar) for hot water in Lodge, mini Lodge, and kitchen, where economically feasible (2021).

Intentions of this Initiative:

  • Work closely with The Mountain staff and Board.
  • Conduct a thorough assessment of facilities and needs.
  • Use the designated funds in an efficient and effective manner to have the greatest short-term and long-term impact.


  • Coordinate with Russell Hunnewell, Facilities Director; the energy team will do as much work as possible, supporting Facilities staff.
  • Purchase thermal imaging camera to identify points of heat loss.
  • Analyze and identify specific needs and estimated costs.
  • Coordinate large order of materials to negotiate the best price.
  • Organize volunteers to complete projects.


As of March 2019, low-cost, high-impact projects completed include: insulation pads for outlet and switch plates, insulated covers for water heaters, sash locks to securely close windows, weather-stripping for doors, caulking for windows, window replacement and door replacement.

Volunteers Robert E. Smith (L) and Phil Sterner (R) installed outlet and switch insulation pads.
Volunteers  Bob Fox (L) and Fred Amabile (R) installed windows in the kitchen and Tree House.

In March, Russell Hunnewell, Facilities Manager, reported that after replacing the kitchen windows, the gas heaters in that space did not need to be turned on.  The positive impact of this initiative is evident.

Next Steps:

  • Insulation for ceilings and/or floors in several buildings
  • Work with consultant to explore the use of solar and/or wind energy
  • Identify additional energy reduction possibilities, with priorities


Mountain Energy Team Members:  Beverly Cree, Fred Amabile, Phil Sterner, Robert E. Smith, Steve Hollingsworth, Rod Harrison, KC Boyce (Mountain Board liaison), Ted Wisniewski (Mountain Director) & Russell Hunnewell (Facilities Director).


For more information:


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