Temple Emanuel in Kensington, MD, has a lengthy history of leadership on environmental stewardship. The Temple’s rabbi, Warren Stone, is a national leader on green issues and has represented Jewish organizations at both the Kyoto and Copenhagen climate accord deliberations.
IPL-DMV spoke with Temple Emanuel’s Green Shalom Team leader Bill Neches. Bill has been a Green Shalom Team member for seven years.
What is the Green Shalom Team’s proudest (recent) green accomplishment at Temple Emanuel?
As Temple Emanuel launches plans for renovations, the green team worked with Pepco to conduct a new total energy audit and found it was time to update the building’s “green” components. Included in this effort was switching from fluorescent bulbs to LEDs and joining a 100% wind powered community power program for electricity supply.
How did the Green Shalom Team get the congregation involved to implement this step?
Temple Emanuel has been implementing environmental ideals for 25 years. The only barrier to upgrading various aspects of the building’s energy usage has been financial.
What is the project’s impact?
We calculate that, besides lessening Temple Emanuel’s greenhouse gas emissions, the lighting upgrade and other improvements to the building will pay for themselves in six to seven years.
What have you learned from this project?
It was a big and pleasant surprise to learn just how much the new technology could increase Temple Emanuel’s energy efficiency.
What is the most difficult obstacle your Green Shalom Team faced on this project?
Green team members felt overextended at times.
What is most rewarding about the new green initiatives at Temple Emanuel?
I have enjoyed the synergy of working with a diverse and skilled group of fellow congregants who are very dedicated to environmental stewardship.
What are the next three green things you’d like to do respond to climate change?
Temple Emanuel and the Green Shalom Team have big plans.
1) We will carry out the renovations on our plant with an eye to earning LEED certification.
2) The congregation will install solar panels.
3) Composting will be restarted, after a hiatus to locate a new contractor.
What advice do you have for other Green Team Leaders trying to save energy, go green, and respond to climate change?
Always remember that a small group of dedicated people can accomplish wonders.