Thrilled to see that JRC’s Green efforts were highlighted prominently in the Jewish Forward this past week:
When their synagogue opens in less than a year, members of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill., will have to adjust to a lot more than just a new roof over their heads. For starters, they’ll have showers and bike racks — just in case they want to pedal to services — and tinted glass windows, to minimize the amount of heat the building absorbs. Less obvious to synagogue-goers might be the solar-powered parking lot lights, the high-efficiency boilers and the cypress wood recycled from an old East Coast barn, all of which factor into the construction.
Those changes are among a laundry list of environmentally friendly, or “green,” design choices that the Chicago-area synagogue is implementing in its new home. When it opens in January 2008, the building will become the first synagogue to receive the second-highest possible classification — known as a LEED gold designation — from the U.S. Green Building Council, which rates buildings for sustainability. With months of construction ahead, the $10 million model synagogue may even still manage to make a few more adjustments to attain the highest level that only some 4% or 5% of applicants receive: LEED platinum status.
While the 450-family congregation represents the most devoted end of the spectrum, it is not alone in its efforts to bring its religious ideals in line with environmentally conscious ideals. In fact, synagogues and Jewish organizations across the denominations are moving — some faster than others — toward better aligning their buildings and business practices with Mother Nature. For the most part, they’re joining the wider global shift toward environmentalism for distinctly Jewish reasons.
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