As climate change and environmental degradation threaten humans and other species across the world for generations to come, Congregation Beth El is obligated to speak up and take action. As a Jewish community, our core values lead us to understand that climate change, environmental injustice, habitat destruction, resource depletion, species extinction, and other human-caused ecological disasters are urgent spiritual and moral crises.
Beth El members have formed a Green Team to work on reducing Beth El’s collective carbon and environmental footprint and standing for environmental justice consistent with our traditions. We spearhead initiatives to:
- Reduce fossil fuel use by our own facilities
- Assist our congregation’s households in taking action to reduce their carbon footprint — join our Green Challenge to count your actions on the JCAN platform
- Support advocacy and awareness efforts to advance the goals of our Climate and Sustainability Resolution in defense of Creation and a livable resilient world
Have questions on solar, composting, heat pumps, advocacy, recent laws? Contact John Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with a Green Team person.
Climate Mensch of the Month: Pat McCoon and Alan Corin
The overarching reason for our actions is an attempt to be more eco-friendly and to aspire to eliminating fossil fuel use for our energy needs. The actions we’ve taken so far are:
- Increased insulation in our house via Mass Save in our attic and in the ceiling of our garage under our house (2010 and 2015).
- Switched to almost all LED from fluorescent or incandescent bulbs (2010).
- Converted from a conventional gas boiler to a high-efficiency boiler for hot water and main heating (2003).
- Replaced all 28 old storm and screen windows with double pane energy efficient windows (2006).
- Replaced top loader washing machine to front loader to save water — 54 gallons/load vs. 17 gallons/load (2005).
- During a renovation added a heat pump to second floor for both heating and cooling; used heating mode to decrease dependence on fossil fuel when outside temps are 35° F. or higher.
- Composted food scraps in our homes here and in Rochester since 1989.
- Bought two hybrid (Toyota Highlander 2008, Prius 2012) and one fully electric vehicle (Tesla 2019) .
- Installed 39 photovoltaic solar panels for generating electrical energy (2017).
- Switched to the Sudbury town aggregate 100% green electricity (2018). After purchasing an electric car, we now use more energy than we produce so do have to purchase some electricity during the late fall and winter.
- We’ve had a summer garden nearly every summer since 1999.
- Re-landscaped our front yard with the majority of plants being native species that would attract pollinators, especially bees and butterflies. We still do have a front and back lawn but they are largely organic, save the spring treatment with pre-emergent done by SavaTree.
- In the process of replacing our weather leaky all wood panel front door with a new thermally tighter front door.
I included the timing of some of the things we’ve done because the technologies, particularly, solar panels, have become much more efficient. The most notable savings were from the insulation and the solar installation. Before we purchased an all-electric vehicle we had gone from $2,200 annual electric bill to $0. In general, we decided that any home improvement or purchase, where possible, was an opportunity to introduce a green measure and do our best to adhere to this policy.