There are several reasons that religious leaders who want to build green should understand the theological, moral basis for green building.
First and foremost, green buildings create important environmental and health benefits which are consistent with the mission of religious communities. For this reason, green buildings are, in many ways, ethically superior to buildings constructed simply to meet conventional building standards.
Religious institutions exist in part to set a good example for society. Green building can be such an example. Religious leaders need to be able to explain this aspect of green building to their members.
There is a second, practical reason that religious leaders should understand the theological basis for green building. Simply put, it will help build support for your green building project. We’ve seen over and over that if members of a religious institution understand the religious reasons behind green building, they become more likely to support these kinds of efforts
There’s a third reason that it’s important for religious leaders to teach their members a theology of green building. This teaching helps members of a community develop a religious-environmental consciousness which they can carry outside of their house of worship into their lives.
Religious facilities are uniquely meaningful. People gather there to worship and express their deeply-held beliefs and allegiances. Religious buildings are the places that many people celebrate the most important transitions in their lives such as birth, passage from youth into young adulthood, marriage, and death. Religious buildings serve as educational and community centers, where children are nurtured and educated, the elderly gather in supportive community, the hungry come to be fed, the homeless to be housed, and where people of all kinds are called to act on their conscience to create a better world.
To “green” a religious building and to articulate a theology of green building, then, is not simply to lessen the environmental impact of one building, but to make a deep-reaching, community-wide statement about the rightness of respecting creation, stewarding the air, water and land, and using God-given resources in a way that protects life rather than destroying it. If religious leaders understand the ethical, theological basis for green building, they can turn their institutions into centers of environmental leadership and create positive ripple effects within their wider communities.