In the early 21st century, Green architecture advocates have highlighted that traditional architectural construction consumed half the world’s resources. These resources included 16% of the earth’s fresh water, 30-40% of the world’s energy supplies, and 50% by weight of all raw materials used. Architecture was also responsible for 40-50% of waste deposits in landfills and 20-30% of greenhouse gas emissions. This has raised the question of how can architecture be revitalized to be more sustainable, both environmentally and in its ability to unite people of diverse backgrounds? This ethnographic study examines the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship congregation of Wayne County (UUFWC) and their house of worship, which was the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified house of worship in the nation. My analysis is organized around the themes of openness, social justice, and pro-environmentalism. I consider: how do the members of the UUFWC interpret and use space differently? How does multi-vocal collaboration and a greater understanding of differing perceptions of space within the congregation lead to more effective architectural community projects, that bring diverse people and cultures together? And how is the environmentally sustainable architecture and collaborative approach to design of the UUFWC building a reflection of the congregation’s value and belief system? I further argue that architectural design can benefit from an anthropological perspective on the social use of space. This anthropological approach to architecture can lead to more sustainably built environments, which in turn revitalize communities for a more unified future.


Craven, Christa


Sociology and Anthropology


Environmental Design | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County, Green Building, Sustainable Architecture, Social Justice, Community, Pro-environmentalism, Openness to all, LEED Certification

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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