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September 16, 2014 | 21st Elul 5774
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Forming a Green Team

In order to “green” your synagogue most effectively, create a small Green Committee to take charge of an Environmental Audit process. By working together on an ongoing basis, you can ensure successful implementation of the audit.

  • Identify Committee Members
    This committee should include representatives from various synagogue committees and groups including: the rabbi, a member of the Ritual Committee, the synagogue administrator, a member of the Building and Grounds Committee, a member of the Budget Committee, a religious school student, a member of the Social Action committee and a NFTY representative. Don't forget to tap into your member's professional expertise!

  • Set the Jewish context
    Start with a brief study of Jewish texts.

  • Use the Environmental Audit Checklist
    Use the Environmental Audit Checklist to investigate the present status of your congregation. Obtain accurate information about the up-front costs of a change, as well as the potential long-term savings. The changes listed in our Environmental Audit Checklist are designed to be no or low cost.

  • Set Priorities
    Once you have collected the relevant data about your present situation and the costs and benefits of proposed changes, rank-order these changes. One criterion should be the long-term savings that might result from a particular change. Instead of taking on only those changes that pay for themselves immediately, your synagogue may want to consider investing in changes that may have an excellent rate of return over time.

    Remember to balance the long-term savings against the initial cost of an item. Many resource-conservative products, such as compact fluorescent bulbs and energy-efficient computers, are more expensive initially but ultimately yield greater savings. Be sure to consider how these changes and their results might help the synagogue serve as a “role model” for its members.

  • Implement, evaluate and reach out
    Once you have set priorities, it is critical that the changes and their effects can be measured. If the Green Committee can document concrete savings, it may find that it’s easier to win support for future changes (even those that are not as economically compelling).

    A crucial part of the evaluation process is publicizing the changes and their effects. Use the bulletin, sermons and similar resources. Again, this helps with future institutional changes; in addition, it will encourage your members to take these changes into their homes. Finally, your committee should work to see that the kind of environmentally conscience thinking that went into the audit becomes a regular part of your synagogue’s decision making.
Additional Resources

To learn more about forming a committee in your congregation and engaging volunteers, download the following URJ publications:

 
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