Youth Carbon Analyst Program (YCAP)

The Youth Carbon Analyst Program


the church building is a testimony to the witness of the church

we are
counting greenhouse gases
for net zero emissions
in our Presbytery

A project of the Earth Care Network  National Capital Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (USA)

All ages are invited to act for the climate through National Capital Presbytery!

Our goal is to (1) calculate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the presbytery and (2) to outline pathways for the presbytery to reduce its GHG emissions.

(1) We are calculating our 'carbon footprint' beginning with a focus on operational energy use of the ~100 church buildings in the presbytery. To do this, we are aggregating congregational energy use data using the the EPA, Energy Star tool called Portfolio Manager (PM). In the absence of actual energy use data, we will use reference energy use intensity levels to calculate the emissions of the remaining buildings based on their size. (See Project 1, listed below). Over time, we will expand our analysis to include the whole spectrum of lifecycle in buildings, transportation, mission, etc.

(2) It is the position of the YCAP that youth voice should be central in imagining fossil free futures. We seek to support youth voice in GHG reduction pathways for the presbytery through conversation with the ministry of the presbytery (See Projects 2-4, listed below). 


The National Capital Presbytery Earth Care Network began a pilot year of YCAP in 2018-2019.

Pictured above in introduction call of YCAP pilot year, 2018-2019. Rev. Karen Chamis (then acting Head of Staff, NCP), Elder June Eakin, DCE Dave Grace (from top to bottom)

The inaugural youth carbon analysts formulated an estimate of the GHG emissions from the buildings of the ten congregations in the Earth Care Network and they assessed the scale of renewable energy projects that would be necessary to achieve netzero GHG emissions for those congregations. The current YCAP cohort (2020) will seek to expand the foundational work of the inaugural analysts by involving more congregations in order to formulate a more precise estimate of the total GHG emissions in the presbytery (the carbon footprint) and to draft a climate action plan.

The orientation meeting for the 2020 YCAP cohort was held on January 25th and featured a presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Dahl – an atmospheric chemist from Loyola University Maryland - that demonstrated the ways climate change is a problem that we should address urgently through what each of us can do to change the energy system. Through this conversation, Dr. Dahl also provided us with an overview of climate science and energy transformation pathways that allows us to correct the suggestion that climate change is not happening, that urgent action is not necessary to limit warming, or the idea that this change is not possible.

Pictured above Dr. Elizabeth Dahl on Jan 25th

During the orientation meeting – after Dr. Dahl’s presentation – Dave Grace outlined four projects that are being offered this year to allow students and adults a range of options in how they may participate in this YCAP process. See list below.

Project Listings:

1.      Creating a Building Energy-Use Portfolio for NCP

a.       Background: Using real data for two churches and publically available data on church size for the remaining eight churches, the inaugural youth carbon analysts estimated the GHG emissions of the Earth Care Network at a range of energy use intensities.

b.      Outputs: The analyst/s will work with the YCAP team to produce a Portfolio for the ~100 church properties in the presbytery using the EPA, Energy Star tool called Portfolio Manager (PM), yielding:

A PM Portfolio that will serve as the basis for later data input via voluntary reporting from churches.
A rough estimate of the total emissions of NCP churches.  

2.      Assessing Renewable Energy Options for NCP

a.       Background: Catholic Charities, working with Dan Misleh of Catholic Energies and others, recently installed what is said to be the largest solar array in Washington, DC (here). The UCC – a full communion partner of our denomination – has recently accepted the Architecture 2030 challenge (here).

b.      Outputs: The analyst/s will work with the YCAP team to consult with partner churches and organizations to analyze a range of options for large scale greenhouse gas reduction activities that may be pursued by National Capital Presbytery, yielding:

A set of recommendations for a suite of renewable energy technologies to be implemented at presbytery scale.
A stakeholder engagement plan to deploy these technologies.    

3.      Advocating for Climate Justice in NCP

a.       Background: The benefits of planning for greenhouse gas reductions at the scale of the presbytery are numerous when considered in engineering and financial terms as well as in terms of a climate justice perspective. However, the benefits to individuals in congregations or their sessions may not be immediately obvious, particularly given the tendency to adopt a ‘fiduciary responsibility’ mindset that can easily be limited to the particular church. Yet, stewardship of the financial resources of a congregation is an important task and, thus, possibilities for co-benefits in GHG reducing activities throughout the presbytery should not be left unconsidered. Financial arguments aside, the Church is committed to climate justice so intersections between inequality, racism, xenophobia, environmental quality and climate impacts, mission spending, GHG reduction activities and potential, and varying congregational budgets deserve more attention. YCAP should focus on climate justice as a moral imperative in its planning and not merely rest on a paradigm of financial benefit at the congregational scale. 

b.      Outputs: The analyst/s will work with the YCAP team to ensure a climate justice commitment guides YCAP planning, yielding:

A set of guiding principles for seeking climate justice in the work of YCAP developed in consultation to the NCP Immigrant Ministry Network, Refugee Ministry Network, Anti-Racism Team, the ‘local expression’ of the Self Development of People, and other networks/teams.
ii.      A work plan to complete a study document exploring climate injustice as it pertains to National Capital Presbytery and the planning of YCAP.

4.      Sharing Climate Action Journeys in NCP

a.       Background: Every congregation has its own story about how it practices Earth Care and there is a great value to sharing these stories to inspire and equip other congregations to act on the climate crisis. Presbyterians for Earth Care shares stories about ‘Earth Keepers’ and in 2016 recognized predecessor project for YCAP, which included a biodiesel bus tour to highlight and share these congregational stories in collaboration with partners. In the DC metro area, the local Interfaith Power and Light chapter shares these stories in a number of ways: such as a ‘solar congregation’s map,’ a ‘learning from solar congregation’s booklet,’ and a ‘solar congregation’s list-serv.’

b.      Outputs: The youth carbon analyst/s will work with the YCAP team to identify ways to enable the sharing of ‘climate action journeys’ among congregations in the National Capital Presbytery – considering partnerships to support this work, yielding:

A written or digital media report that shares the ‘climate action journeys’ of at least three churches in National Capital Presbytery.
An event that raises attention about this report, possibly in collaboration with other youth carbon analyst working on other areas.