Make no mistake, the jury is back: climate change is happening. The carbon emissions in our atmosphere can be traced directly to the burning of fossil fuels and this historically disproportionate trend began at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Animals know it and many are beginning to migrate just to stay within their climate zones. A harsh reality is that some are beginning to run out of real estate and are in danger of being pushed to extinction.
Even humans are starting to realize that unabated climate change poses great dangers including rising sea levels and increased regional climate extremes. Many people want responsible stewardship with our planet. Individual plans alone can’t solve the problem, but they are a beginning and to do nothing would be disastrous.
Demand for energy continues to rise and communities are increasingly looking to renewable sources such as the sun to meet the growing demand for clean, safe and reliable energy. Other technologies such as LED lighting and rainwater harvesting are growing and taking hold globally. It all matters and what we do collectively and individually does make a difference. The most difficult part is just getting started. The range of opportunities is vast and yes, many of the issues are complex, but taking the time to organize and develop a strategic approach will help leaders within our churches, synagogues and communities make the best choices.
My company Greensboro Plumbing Supply (GPS) has been in business since 1949, providing mechanical, commercial plumbing and industrial solutions. Four years ago, we decided to move to the forefront of bringing renewable energy to the marketplace because the future is now and just ignoring the problems we all face is not the answer. We offset over 50% of our power usage with solar PV and have updated our lighting with LED. We are now fully engaged in solar power, solar thermal, LED lighting and rainwater harvesting, because it matters for future generations. It is important we all act, combining our passion for transformational change and we should act now and consider the cost if we don’t. We can have a future for our children and their children where technology evolves in partnership with respect for the environment, providing renewable energy, clean manufacturing processes and sustainable agriculture.
I currently serve as the Green Committee Chair at Beth David Synagogue in Greensboro, NC. I am working with our past and current synagogue Presidents and a committee consisting of volunteers who feel we can make a difference. We do this together not only because we wish to make a difference, but we also wish to change our own lives in the process. We know there is a clearly defined need to make our community, and our world, a better place for our children and grandchildren and by doing this, we hope to inspire others to become involved through Beth David Synagogue and churches within our community.
Judaism taught me neutrality is not an acceptable stance with regard to our fellow man and all living creatures. Our environment is crying for help and I wonder sometimes who is listening. The American Indian walked in balance and beauty with nature. They felt the Earth taught them courage, renewal, kindness, humility and to care for all things. They felt humankind was woven into the web of life as one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together, all things connect. Together, we can educate the next generation the importance of faith in what they want to accomplish. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, I was taught by my parents we all should be honest when we want to address issues about the well-being of our community. They also taught me to take seriously the obligation to create a better world for everyone and we all should recognize that these two goals could best be achieved together.
At Beth David Synagogue, we are working together to go green by taking the necessary steps to reduce environmental impact without making major structural changes.
- We started by evaluating our lighting, and we are preparing to make the change to LED. This will reduce our energy usage by up to 80%. Additionally, this will make our HVAC system even more efficient by reducing the heat generated with conventional lighting by 90%.
- We are also considering the installation of AET Solar Thermal Panels in specific locations and eliminating all standard water heaters by installing Bosch Tankless Water Heaters. Hot water is on demand so this alone will reduce our gas and electric bills.
- The HVAC systems are aging as well, so we recently evaluated all the units on our roof, all 17 of them.
- We will review and consider replacing all the faucets, toilets and urinals in all the bathrooms, replacing them with energy efficient systems. The faucets will be hands free, so they shut off after a specified time, again, saving us money.
By effectively managing the way our building uses water and energy we can improve our carbon footprint and cut our utility bills. Working together, we can make a difference!
GPS – Renewable Energy Division