Cooler/Smarter is a 7-session workshop series designed to help individuals and families that want to get serious about reducing their carbon footprints. Each workshop will take place at a different congregation throughout Grand Rapids and will be facilitated by a Climate Witness Partner. We will also be sharing highlights from the sessions via video later—stay tuned! 



Session 1: Getting Serious about Reducing our Carbon Footprint

Time: Thursday, January 10, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location: CRC Denomination Building (1700 28th St)

Facilitator: Steve Mulder

Workshop series kickoff and introduction


Session 3: Home Heating and Cooling (Home is Where the Heat Is)

Time: Thursday, February 7, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location: Oakdale Park CRC (961 Temple St SE)

Facilitator: Nate de Vries and Dale Hulst

Home heating and cooling is another important area. Upgrading your furnace or air conditioners to highly efficient models can make a big difference in reducing your emissions. So can sealing air leaks, because air leaks in the average American home may squander 15 to 25 percent of the heat our furnaces generate in winter and account for the same amount of unwanted heat our homes gain in summer. That’s equivalent to leaving a window in your home wide open all the time.


Session 4: Electrical Use in the Home (Taking Care of Electricity at Home)

Time: Thursday, February 21, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location: Madison Square - Madison Place (1401 Madison Ave SE)

Facilitator: Herb Fynewever

Home energy use from all the electricity we use to power our appliances and electronics is another big source of your emissions, and one with lots of room for reductions. For example, compact fluorescent and LED bulbs give you the same amount of light while using one quarter of the electricity or less. So you’d have to shut off your incandescent bulbs entirely for three out of every four days to achieve comparable savings. Cooler Smarter offers lots of specific tips and strategies for reducing your electricity consumption.


Session 5: Diet (A Low Carbon Diet)

Time: Thursday, March 7, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location: Alger Park CRC (2655 Eastern Ave SE)

Facilitator: Dave Koetje


Food accounts for a sizable portion of our emissions. Of course, we all must eat, but with our goal in this series being to reduce our carbon footprints by 20% one of things we can do is to make changes to our diets. An average family of four that decides to make changes to their diets could lower their emissions by as much as three tons annually.


Session 6: What We Buy (The Right Stuff)

Time: Thursday, March 21, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location: Creston CRC (238 Spencer St NE)

Facilitator: Cameron Kritikos

Stuff we buy—from tangible items like clothes and furniture to services like haircuts and healthcare—accounts for the remainder of our personal emissions. These purchases are spread across so many categories it is hard to get significant reductions from a single choice. That said, simply buying less stuff or purchasing recycled or reclaimed items can significantly trim your personal emissions.


Session 7: Money (Impacting the Environment Through Personal Investing)

Time: Thursday, April 11, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location: Fountain Street Church (24 Fountain St NE)

Facilitator: Katie Holzhueter and Kurt Holzhueter (Clearview Investments)

Sustainability Investing is a relatively new and rapidly growing area of investing. It can be a powerful tool used to influence corporate practices and positively impact the environment. When done properly, portfolios are created by rating companies on greenhouse gas emissions, toxic spills, land use, operational waste and water management. The lowest scoring companies are under weighted or excluded from the portfolio and those with the most favorable scores receive greater weight. Companies that lose capital investment dollars are encouraged to adopt environmentally sound practices and companies with high ratings are rewarded for their behavior. It is now possible to express your environmental values without sacrificing investment returns.


Session 2: Transportation (Driving Down Emissions)

Time:  Postponed to Thursday, April 25, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location:  TBD

Facilitator: Tom Bulten

Transportation is the biggest area, and the vast majority comes from cars and trucks. For almost all of us, our cars are the single biggest personal contribution to climate change. That means when it comes time to buy your next car, choosing one with the best possible gas mileage that meets your family’s needs offers one of your biggest opportunities to cut emissions.