In December 2012, the majestic BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills was consecrated as a Hindu house of worship. Attendees at the ceremony noted the lavish architectural details, which include 35,000 pieces of hand-carved Carrara marble from Italy and pink sandstone from India, five pinnacles, two domes, a lotus-shaped reflection pool, and 129 archways; throughout the building, there are 6,600 hand carvings in the marble and sandstone that illustrate the faith traditions and history of Hinduism. But equally of note is the fact that the mandir features a solar power system.
The mandir isn't the only house of worship in Los Angeles or Riverside counties to believe that using solar and renewable energy is a way to honor and preserve the environment-the creation of a higher power. In late 2012, Temple Sinai in Glendale was recognized by California Interfaith Power & Light with an "Energy Oscar" for green building practices. The temple has a 30-kilowatt solar power system, producing almost half of the temple's energy needs and saving an average of $435 per month for the first six months the system was installed. Congregant Jan Freed first brought up the idea of using solar power at the temple, in a project that became known as “Solar Sinai.”
“Our business as a religious community is to do what's right,” Freed said in a statement. “What a great joy to find so many at Temple Sinai who enthusiastically supported that view.” The temple, which may install another solar power system, also uses energy-efficient lights, an updated air-conditioning system, and automatic lights in the restrooms.
California Interfaith Power & Light has more than 50 members from the Los Angeles area. The organization promotes renewable energy and energy conservation among houses of worship, hosts events, and gets involved in public policy related to its cause.
One of the most prominent houses of worship in Los Angeles, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, is a longtime consumer of solar power. The Catholic cathedral had solar panels installed when it opened in 2002. Another church in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Our Lady of Guadalupe St. Francis Church in Hermosa Beach, is entirely solar powered.
In 2011, The Lamb's Fellowship in Murrieta installed 261 solar panels. Church officials said the system would supply three-quarters of the church's power needs and save about $300,000 in energy costs over the next 20 years.
These are just a few of the many forward-looking congregations that are putting faith in the power of solar to help reduce costs while ministering to the planet.