When the Unitarian Universalist Society in Coralville, Iowa, built its new home, the congregation aimed to make it the ‘greenest church in Iowa.’
Courtesy Neumann Monson Architects
In November 2017, the Unitarian Universalist Society in Coralville, Iowa, dedicated its current building, located on a sprawling eight acres with woods, trails, a labyrinth, gardens, and natural play areas. It replaces a building from 1904 they’d outgrown downtown. The congregation aimed to make their new home the “greenest church in Iowa,” equipping it with solar panels, energy efficient glass, radiant floor heating, a geothermal ground-source heat pump system, energy recovery ventilation, low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials, LED lighting, and charging stations for electric cars. It is sited to have the least impact on the land and uses native plantings to manage stormwater runoff and toxicity.
Already designated a UUA Green Sanctuary, it is on track to achieve Zero Energy Building certification from the International Living Future Institute.
The structure was designed by Neumann Monson Architects using biophilic principles that help connect the space and its occupants with nature.
“When I walk into our building, I am awestruck with the simplicity and beauty,” says Deb Schoelerman, who was on the new facilities committee. “When you enter through the front doors, you can see all the way through the atrium to the other side of the building and out to the woods.”
The building’s 18,455 square feet offer meeting, classroom, worship, and social spaces, making it an attractive rental option, and with everything on one floor, all areas are easily accessible to those with mobility challenges.
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Sonja L. Cohen is deputy managing editor of UU World and a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.