Our Green Building

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Photo by: Ravi Ganapathy

The First Green House of Worship in North America

In 2008, we built a highly acclaimed green building, the first platinum LEED-certified synagogue in North America. We continue to be committed to environmental and sustainability practices.

What is LEED?

A platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating is the highest award given by the U.S. Green Building Council. It rates sustainability in six major areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design process. 

Why Build Green?

By studying the Jewish principle of Bal Tashchit, we learn about a Jewish environmental ethic which teaches "do not destroy or waste". Further, in Ecclesiastes we read: "God led Adam around the Garden of Eden and said, 'Look at My works. See how beautiful they are, how excellent. See to it that you do not spoil or destroy My world — for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.'" (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13)

As the built environment has a profound impact on our natural environment, economy, health and productivity—the JRC community decided to make a values-based decision to build green. 

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Technology Highlights 

  • The front ceremonial entrance door is made from reclaimed Maple trees harvested from the original building site that needed to be cut down for construction
  • Exterior and interior siding was reclaimed from barns in upstate New York 
  • The parking lot is lit by photo-voltaic (solar electrically powered) lights
  • There is a designated spot in the parking lot reserved for fuel efficient vehicles 
  • Cabinets and shelving are made from a rapidly renewable agricultural fiber product including sunflower husks
  • Heating and cooling is controlled by an energy efficient zoning system that is only on when a room is in use. Only the bottom six feet of the high ceilinged Sanctuary and Social Hall is heated and cooled. 
  • A solar powered Ner Tamid (eternal light) in the Sanctuary and chapel. 
  • A white reflective roof decreases air conditioning needs and reduces our "heat island" effect in the neighborhood. 

Green From Beginning to End

The old building that stood on the same spot on 303 Dodge Ave. made a sustainable transition by using existing foundations and demolition spoils as engineered fill. Trees that could not be preserved were harvested for use within the building. An amazing 96% of the old building was recycled. 

We continue our commitment to sustainability in the everyday operations of the synagogue. We have moved to mostly digital communications to decrease the number of mailings, use recycled post consumer waste paper in our office, purchased washable tablecloths instead of using disposable paper ones, compost all food waste, and converted all disposable flatware, plates, and cups to compostables.

Building Recognition

  • 2009 AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Project
  • 2009 Chicago Building Congress Merit Award.
  • 2009 World Architecture Festival, High Commendation Community Buildings

Our Journey to a Green Building 

The process of deciding to build a new green synagogue was a long one. Learn about the history of our building. See more>>

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