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Building in Good Faith - Green Building Resource for Religious Institutions

Planning & Decision-Making

Planning, Planning, Planning!

Before your first hole is dug or your first nail driven, there's a lot of planning to be done to make sure your project is a success.

Good planning means lots of meetings - so keep them focused and well-organized.

Clarify Your Goals and Educate for Support

As noted above, establishing a mission statement for your project is an important starting point, and provides a resource which you can use to educate the members of your institution about your efforts.

We encourage you to make this education and outreach a regular part of your efforts. Many institutions have used regular or periodic educational forums to report on their project’s status, and on its various green components. Plan from the start, too, how you can use your building process to educate your community about the environment and about being "green.” For example, comparing the environmental impact of a conventional building as opposed to your proposed green facility can create important awareness and support.

Plan Your Fundraising from the Beginning

From the moment you begin your efforts, you need to increase your ability to raise funds for your project. Strategies to accomplish this might include paying early visits to potential major donors, not to seek support but rather to both get their views about the challenges and opportunities of building green. We have seen efforts where providing potential donors with information about green building builds their enthusiasm. You might consider forming a pre-campaign planning group to gather lists of prospects, provide guidance on the worth of a feasibility study, and establish a fundraising tasks timeline.

Assemble a Strong Building Committee

At the same time, you’ll need a group to develop the timeline and work plan for your overall building project. Many institutions create a project planning committee to take on this specific task.

This group might eventually become your actual building committee. If not, consider establishing your building committee early on. The members of this committee are critical to your success. They should be representative of your community, and there's no one formula for selecting the right members. However, keep in mind that this will be a working committee which must work with outside professionals, and provide guidance to your community as a whole on a range of building-related matters. A small group, perhaps six to eight leaders, often works best. Every member of this committee should offer a distinctive set of skills or attributes. At best, you’ll need committee members with knowledge of design or construction, familiarity with budgeting and finances, knowledge of green design, and an ability to communicate with the wider community. It helps if at lest some of the committee members are highly respected within your community. Consider a balance of staff and volunteers, clergy and laity, male and female, etc.

The Benefits of Planning

If you are a champion for building green in your organization, early planning helps you to get a handle on ways to educate your community about this topic. Early planning can help you understand your institution’s group dynamics, expectations and anxieties. By gathering information, communicating proactively, building consensus and making sure the right people are in the right roles, your green building process can unfold positively and productively. In the end, members of religious institutions want their time at church, synagogue, mosque or temple to be meaningful and positive. A well-planned green building effort can help make this happen, and can deepen your members’ commitment to your institution for years to come.

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