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Minutes - Green Team Meeting -10-23-11

October 23, 2011

Attendees:  David Adler, Kirby Capen, Alan Cohen, Rachel Gross, David Pansegrouw, Molly Rauch, Paul Shapiro, Robert Weinstein.

Paul convened the meeting at 1:00 pm.  He said there were other people who had wanted to attend, but could not make this meeting.  We used the agenda to guide our discussions.  The agenda followed the Environmental Goals of Temple Micah (copy attached) in order to have a broad scope of potential activities.

Introductions:  We each told a bit about ourselves and any thoughts or suggestions about what the Green Team could do.  Paul said that people at Temple Micah like the idea of having a Green Team and we were meeting to see whether we could re-invigorate the Green Team through some new activities and people committing to carry them out.  He recounted some of the Green Team’s past successes, including having installed in the temple expansion insulation in the roof and windows with greater R value.  David P. said he has had recent conversations with staff about how to include environmental issues in the curriculum.

[Addendum:  Following the meeting, Paul and Rachel worked with Geri Nielsen and David Diskin to add a “Suggestions” line to the Green Team web site.]

Alan thought that we should establish goals to reach in all areas, not just energy.  He said we should look to other Congregations and organizations to see what models are out there—e.g., temples Emanuel and Adat Shalom, GWIPL, National Council of Churches, and Jewish organizations.  David A. said the topic is incredibly complex and covers lots of operations, not just energy.  Some projects are easily implemented and some very complicated and expensive.  He wants to see how we organize to address them in more than one area.

Facility-Related Issues:  Paul said the Green Team’s concern about energy usage and need for oversight of the building contributed to the creation two years ago of the House Committee.  Ilan Scharfstein, chair of the House Committee, could not attend but suggested reading the Board’s charge to the House Committee (attached), which is intended to provide broad oversight of the facility and its operations.

Paul said that a wish list had been created with a placeholder of $10,000 for solar installation.  Rachel clarified that there is a yearly projects list, which includes for example replacing the roof, and a capital projects wish list that is being assembled for the celebration of the temple’s 50th anniversary and fund-raising.

Specific Projects:  Paul said there are a couple things that the Green Team is committed to do, assuming there are people who are willing to do them.  The main one is a cost-benefit analysis of site-based alternative energy capital investments--e.g., green roof, solar, wind, and ground source heating.  He said the results would go through the House Committee to the Board.

We discussed possible projects that specific people would commit to do.

Energy Usage:  We distinguished two aspects of Micah’s energy usage—operations and investment.  Rachel said that we have a contract beginning in 2012 through GWIPL to purchase totally wind energy from Clean Currents at less at our current rate and that this opportunity would be open to temple members.  Kirby said that she would fill out the information to see whether Temple Micah would qualify for the EPA-sponsored ENERGY STAR for Congregations designation.  This could be set up to be re-done on an annual basis.  Rachel said she would send the energy audit the Green Team had done of Micah to everyone and provide Kirby with energy usage data for the past three years.

Hanukah Machon Micah:  Paul said that Deborah Srabstein said we could provide a speaker on energy/lighting issues for the All-Community Machon Micah Hanukah havdalah service and activities, which will be held on December 17 from 5 – 7 pm.  He mentioned that as of January 1, 2012, incandescent light bulbs would no longer be manufactured.  He and David P. recounted what the Green Team did in the past selling CFLs and other activities for Hanukah.  David P. suggested putting out a strip of alternative light bulbs so people could see what they look like.  Kirby said she would be willing to speak at Machon Micah about energy usage of the different types of light bulbs and what to look for when purchasing them.  Molly said she would work on this with Kirby, including finding someone who could speak about policy on energy to complement or as a backup to Kirby.

Paul said that Deborah asked whether we had any ideas for group activities for the 40 6th and 7th graders on Sunday.  Rachel suggested asking Home Depot whether it could put on a program for the students in the store.  Or we could ask Strosnider’s to do a presentation.  David A. said this could also be a mitzvah project.  Rachel said we would have the flexibility of not having the activity fall exactly on Hanukah.  Alan said he would look into an activity in which families could help with invasive species removal from streams.

Tu B’Shvat:  Mary Beth Schiffman, president of the Micah Board, had told Paul that Micah would not be putting on an All-Community Machon Micah Tu B’Shvat service this year (Tu B’Shvat will occur in early February 2012).  She would welcome the Green Team coming up with alternative activities.  Molly asked whether we could put on an all-Micah activity that is not a service and got “yes” for an answer.

There was discussion of having students prepare flyers on what non-invasive species families could plant or the relationship between trees and Judaism—e.g., biblical references to local species.  Alan suggested putting this on the web site.  Robert suggested having a student contest and putting the process on the web site or using a blog.

[Addendum:  Following the meeting, Robert suggested having a student contest to design a Temple Micah Tote Bag with trees or other greenery that the temple could sell to raise money (like the Micah baseball caps).  He said he would prepare a proposal.]

Kirby suggested having a Green Team liaison to Micah’s education staff.

Food:  Rachel brought up food as a Jewish issue—e.g. the relationship between people and food production, relationship between synagogues and farmers.  She mentioned the good work of Hazon in New York City.  Paul said the Green Team had brought in as a speaker Mike Tabor, who has a sustainable farm in Maryland.  Molly said she is very interested in this topic and how it relates to Micah.  Robert mentioned that Passover is food connected, offering the opportunity to ask and answer questions such as:  Can food be produced locally and sustainably?  Where does our brisket come from?  Molly agreed to look into finding a speaker or other food-related activities.  Alan said he would help, as did Rachel. 

Paul suggested maybe doing a “green audit” of the temple that would cover these topics plus use of green cleaning materials and office and kitchen products.  He said we could perhaps go further by looking at the materials developed by other organizations on green Shabbat and green weddings and other celebrations.  Rachel said she is open to help in finding the most green and affordable products and materials. 

[Addendum:  Following the meeting, David A. suggested looking into the Fat Worm Composting company to have our waste taken to a composting facility.  Rachel said auditing our waste could determine what and how much we could send to the facility.  Paul said the Green Team could develop a short audit form that staff could fill out on a daily basis for a week or two.]

Paul brought up the topic Alan had mentioned of finding out what other synagogues are doing environmentally, the role of COEJL, etc.  Paul said that, at Jared Blum’s suggestion, the previous day he had heard someone speak to a group of church representatives about his company’s experience installing geothermal heating in churches in the DC area.  Rachel said the next GWIPL projects relate to gas bills and trash collection and recycling.  Kirby said that DC is providing free rain barrels.  Alan said he would do research on Adat Shalom and other congregations and associations.  

Next Steps:   The group agreed to meet on November 20 at 12:40 pm.  The primary topic will be discussion of Kirby and Molly’s proposed plans for Hanukah.  There will also be updates on progress on the other activities.

Paul said he would send out the minutes and provide additional names for the Green Team email list.

Meeting adjourned at 2:30 pm.

Attachment 1:  Environmental Goals of Temple Micah“Temple Micah recognizes that environmental issues are an essential part of tikkun olam. Therefore, Temple Micah will devote attention, resources, and energy to apply this principle to itself, its members, and the broader community in order to preserve, sustain, and repair our environment.

Temple Micah designs, operates, and maintains its facilities in an environmentally sound manner. 

Temple Micah incorporates environmental principles of tikkun olam in its Jewish education of children and adults. 

Temple Micah is a source of information in assisting members and others in learning about and taking action on environmental problems and creating environmental solutions. 

Jewish holidays at Temple Micah are occasions for teaching, learning, and taking action on environmental issues. 

Temple Micah is committed to being a leader in environmental stewardship in the Jewish and broader community.”

Attachment 2:  Micah Board’s Charge to the House Committee

“The Temple Micah House Committee is charged with researching and advising the Board of Directors on all matters relating to the Temple’s physical plant, furnishings, equipment, and grounds, including best practices for cataloguing and keeping accessible all plans, documents, schedules, and other information relating to the procurement, operation, and maintenance of the Temple’s physical plant, furnishings, equipment, and grounds.  In carrying out its work the Committee shall attempt to determine and apply the highest levels of safety, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, environmentalism, comfort, and aesthetics.  While the Committee’s recommendations will be considered by the Board, the Committee has no independent spending authority.”

by Geri Nielsen last modified 12-01-2011 09:10 PM

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