green home

Built To Be Green

Years before design and construction began, members of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore reached a strong consensus: members wanted a very green, highly energy efficient, environmentally sustainable building and building site. Completed in 2008, our UU Center in South Jersey fulfills that mandate.

Extra care was taken for the building to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines.

interior of Sanctuary

The Building Interior

The building uses sustainable, often recycled materials throughout. A few examples:

Flooring: Bamboo flooring in the Sanctuary and library; Recycled content ceramic tile in the entrance; Marmoleum, a truly natural recipe for durable composite flooring, has been installed in the office space and nursery. The exposed concrete in the downstairs lounge and classrooms has a non-toxic series of stains applied.
Ceilings: 100% recycled content acoustic lay-in tiles.
Insulation: Super formaldehyde-free insulation in the walls and ceiling.
Bathrooms: Low flow motion sensor faucets and low flush toilets; a waterless urinal in the downstairs men’s room.
Lighting: All lighting fixtures are Energy Star quality with high efficiency fluorescent and CFL lamping.
Windows: Energy Star rated. Many large windows allow for abundant natural light.
Heating & Cooling: Photovoltaic panels on the roof produce approximately 12,000 KwH of electricity per year. Additionally, an open-loop Geothermal heat pump system is used for heating and cooling.
solar panels
Kitchens: The main upstairs kitchen cabinets are made from NAUF (no added urea formaldehyde) plywood and water-based nontoxic clear finish. The countertop is engineered aggregate made with quartz and recycled glass. The appliances are Energy Star rated. The downstairs kitchen consists of reused cabinets.
kitchen cabinets and recycled countertops
Walls: Drywall contains 100% recycled material. All paints contain no or low VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).

A Healthy Building

The building is tightly sealed for energy efficiency; the building nevertheless “breathes” stale air out and healthy air in; thanks to a “Life Breath” ventilation system. The system also captures and removes humidity; all with minimal heating and cooling losses.


The Building Exterior

The slate-look roof is made from recycled car bumpers and rated to last 50 years. The back decking is TREX, a recycled plastic/wood composite. The foundation is a monopour of recycled “fly ash” content concrete with extensive outside moisture protection below grade.

The Grounds

On our 6.2 acres, more than two-thirds have been kept permanently forested. Minimal land was cleared for building and what remained was planted with native plants and fertilized organically. The native plants provide food and shelter for indigenous wildlife. There is no mechanical irrigation; we rely on hand watering. There are compost bins for vegetative waste and the finished humus is used on the gardens.

There is limited paved (impervious) parking, with overflow parking on the grass sides of the driveway.

To moderate water runoff and add beauty and habitat, a rain garden was planted with the help of Richard Stockton College students. The State-required retention basin was planted with native grasses and wildflowers and is mowed once a year, and is a favorite with our bluebirds and other birds and butterflies.

rain garden