Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

JRC Dons the Green Beanie!


I’m proud to announce that JRC has tied for First Place in the JTA’s Green Beanie awards! (An honorable concept, though a more dignified name might be in order…)

The JTA sponsored the competition to recognize groundbreaking environmental initiatives in the Jewish community.  Apparently, they received over 100 applications from Jewish organizations and institutions around the world.

Check out the piece and learn more about the other finalists who are doing important and sacred work. It’s so great to see how the Jewish community continues to deepen its commitment to a sustainable world.

Faith in Place

Check out this nice video piece produced by Faith in Place – a coalition of over 400 faith communities throughout Illinois committed to the sacred practice of environmental and economic sustainability. I’m proud to say that JRC (who is featured in the clip) is a longtime member.

From the FIP website:

Our mission is to help people of faith understand that issues of ecology and economy—of care for Creation—are at the forefront of social justice. At Faith in Place we believe in housing the homeless, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. But even if we do all those things, and love our brothers and sisters with our whole heart, it will not matter if we neglect the ecological conditions of our beautiful and fragile planet.

As temperatures rise and fossil fuel supplies fall, the burden of climate change and scarcity will land primarily on the poor, and eventually will come home to us all. We must practice love and justice in the way we use the ecological commons of air, water and soil. We must be willing to make sacrifices for a sustainable economy.

The End of Empire: A Sermon for Rosh Hashanah

My sermon for Rosh Hanshanah Day 5769 was something of a sequel to the one I delivered the night before. I’ve reworked it here, based on a version I gave today at Lake St. Church’s World Community Sabbath. (Those of you who read the previous sermon will notice I carried some passages over into this one).

Click below to read:

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JRC Goes Platinum!

I am thrilled to announce JRC has officially achieved a LEED level Platinum rating from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), making it the highest rated green house of worship in the world!

I’ve written about this extensively before, but just to recap:  LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the point-based review process created by USGBC to certify green buildings.  It is an extremely rigorous system requiring creative integrated design, detailed record keeping and a demanding submission process. Platinum is the highest of four levels of LEED certification, requiring fifty-two points. In the end, JRC earned all fifty-three of the points for which we applied!

Visit the JRC website for the official announcement.  For much, much more on the entire project, check out the JRC Construction Diaries in this blog.

JRC’s New Home: Summer into Fall

It’s been quite a while since I posted a pic of JRC’s new building. We’ve been settling in for about half a year now and are thoroughly enjoying our new home. Here’s a shot of the exterior with our new front garden, filled with local, drought-resistant species planted by our devoted Garden Havurah.

Our house is quickly becoming a spiritual home: it’s witnessed many, many celebrations, classes, meetings, etc. Also B’nai Mitzvah, two weddings, and sadly, too many funerals. It’s breathtaking how quickly you create memories…

We should be getting official word on our LEED rating from the US Green Building Council very, very soon. We are still hoping for Platinum – stay tuned!

JRC’s Conscious Choice

JRC’s new green synagogue building was spotlighted in this nice feature from Conscious Choice Magazine last April. A few corrections though:

– We have not yet been certified by the US Green Building Council. We continue to hope for a Platinum rating and expect receive final word in a few months.

– The rubble in our gabion walls is not recycled from our old building but from other demolished buildings.

– Our building is not made of 96% recycled materials – rather, 96% of our old building was reclaimed and recycled for other uses.

What’s Your Footprint?

Just finished playing an on-line quiz called “Consumer Consequences” – a test sponsored by American Public Media that helps you determine your personal environmental footprint. Based on your consumer habits in various categories (i.e. use of public transportation, energy bills, eating consumption, trash disposal) the quiz calculates how many earths it would take to sustain your personal lifestyle.

I’ll warn you ahead of time: your results will sober you up. To state the obvious, the earth simply wouldn’t be able to support its 6.6 million residents if everyone lived like a typical over-consuming American. (A critical statistic: we Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population, but consume 25% of the world’s energy).

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the test itself is actually pretty fun to take (they even let you pick a goofy avatar persona). Along the way it also includes important insights about American consumption and tips on how you can reduce your footprint. One especially interesting feature: you can compare your footprint with reporters from various American Public Media programs. (Full disclosure: mine is almost equivalent to the the footprint of Krista Tippett, host of “Speaking of Faith“).

The Greener Grass of Baseball

I recently read that the Washington Nationals brand-new ballpark is the first baseball stadium to achieve LEED certification (Silver) from the US Green Building Council. Among the notable green amenities at Nationals Park: drought resistant landscaping, low-VOC paints, a water filtration system to minimize pollution into nearby Anacostia River and a 6,300 square foot green roof beyond left field to collect rainwater and help cool the roof on hot days.

But the Nationals aren’t the only ballclub playing on greener grass these days. It was also reported that the San Francisco Giants recently installed 590 solar panels on the outside of AT&T Park to power their new scoreboard, among other things. And how about this: the World Champ Boston Red Sox have just teamed up with the Natural Resources Defense Council to make Fenway Park more eco-conscious. Their five-year plan includes an improved recycling program, local grown organic produce at concession stands, and solar power heating for chilly night games.

(Meanwhile, as I write this, the Cubs are on the verge of blowing a 7-0 lead to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ah, the rites of spring…)