Why Build Green?

By studying the Jewish principle of Bal Tashchit, which appears in biblical text as well as in later rabbinic interpretation, 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-- any building planning process becomes an opportunity to be a Values-Based Decision Making Process, a chance for who we are and what we believe to take shape and form as what we do.

In the United States, buildings account for:

  • 36% of total energy use and 65% of electricity consumption
  • 30% of greenhouse gas emissions
  • 30% of raw materials use
  • 30% of waste output (136 million tons annually)
  • 12% of potable water consumption

Environmental benefits of building green:

  • Enhance and protect ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Improve air and water quality
  • Reduce solid waste
  • Conserve natural resources

Economic benefits:

  • Reduce operating costs
  • Enhance asset value and profits
  • Improve employee productivity and satisfaction
  • Optimize life-cycle economic performance

Health and community benefits:

  • Improve air, thermal and acoustic environments
  • Enhance occupant comfort and health
  • Minimize strain on local infrastructure
  • Contribute to overall quality of life

Further Reading

Read Green Shul: A Project History Part One

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