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Green Philosophy Colors Operations

August 2, 2007 By:
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In it's June electronic newsletter, the Federal Environmental Protection's Agency Energy Star program highlighted the efforts of Congregation Mishkan Shalom, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Roxborough, to reduce its energy costs and cut back on carbon-dioxide emissions.

The Energy Star Program -- which awards small businesses and congregations for maximizing energy efficiency -- first recognized Mishkan back in 2004.

That wasn't long after the congregation, founded in 1988, had moved into its first permanent home, and converted a 27,000-square-foot, 140-year-old mill building into a usable synagogue.

Dr. Daniel Wolk, who chairs the synagogue's Green Committee, said that the congregation had hoped to cut its costs and live out its own eco-conscious ethos.

After receiving a $250,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Sustainable Development Fund, Mishkan made a number of changes to the building, including adding double-paned, "low-emissivity" windows, plus four inches of insulation.

According to the EPA's citation, Mishkan was able to save $5,700 dollars annually in energy costs -- their yearly bill runs about $35,000 -- as well as prevent 47,500 pounds of annual carbon-dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Energy Star's e-newsletter often provides updates of previous award winners.

For example, the June edition mentioned the installation of a solar-powered ner tamid -- its "eternal light" -- at Mishkan, in addition to the congregation's plans to switch to a more cost-efficient air-conditioning system.

"We're always trying to lesson our impact on the planet," affirmed Wolk. "Scientists have been warning the public about the greenhouse effect and global warming for 30 years."

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