What does LEED Rating mean?
- Our new building is designed to achieve one of the two highest levels of environmental design certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a review process created by the U.S. Green Building Council to rate buildings in six major areas: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovation and design process.
- The plan to achieve a gold or platinum LEED rating required careful consideration of sustainable strategies and a comprehensive, holistic approach to the building design. The design included sustainable components such as reclaimed, recycled and rapidly renewable materials, wood from certified sustainable forests, and strategies such as light harvesting and water conservation. The synagogue building maximizes the latest in technological and design advances. The building minimizes the use of depletable resources, maximizes natural light and air, and reduces energy consumption by a careful system of insulation, heat reflection, and digitally controlled zones for heating and cooling.
- Not all of the building materials are from recycled sources. None of the steel or new poured concrete has recycled material from our old building, but it does have recycled content from elsewhere in the area. We get credit for using materials that are manufactured or grown/harvested within 500 miles so that less energy is expended in getting the materials to us.
- Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb talks about LEED and Leviticus. LEED is a set of standards that are both specific and quantifiable. The Book of Leviticus lays out the specific laws that we as Jews are to follow, in order to define our practice and our relationship with God. LEED sets up a system of practices and standards that define sustainable practice. Both are sometimes seen as overly complex and micro managed, but they provide a framework and guidelines for living within certain values. In the case of LEED, if one does not make a commitment to certification, with all of the paperwork that it entails, it may well not get done and you will have a harder time ensuring that all parties meet the requirements for sustainability.
Why didn't we…
- HAVE A “GREEN” ROOF?
A “green” roof, one filled with soil and plants and the water to sustain them, requires a much heavier structural support than our reflective roof. In order to provide that support we would have needed to put several structural beams in the middle of our sanctuary, blocking sight lines to the Bimah and Ark. The much higher cost to provide that structure as well as to install the “Green” roof was also a consideration. The reflective roof we have meets the LEED requirement for mitigating the heat trapping – air condition demanding “heat island” effect.
- PUT A SOLAR HOT WATER SYSTEM ON THE ROOF?
Solar hot water makes sense in those situations when large amounts of hot water are used all of the time (like at a laundromat) or when the user has discretion over when to use it (a family deciding when to wash clothes or use a dishwasher). At JRC, our use pattern is the opposite. We need small amounts during the day and then large amounts occasionally during the week such as during services. It didn’t make sense functionally, and had a very long payback period.
- PUT PV (PHOTO VOLTAIC SOLAR POWER CELLS TO PROVIDE ELECTRICITY) ON THE ROOF?
At this point the cost for PV is not economical. All of the energy features we put into the building were done so with the idea that a small higher up-front cost would pay back in energy savings in a relative short time (3 -10 years depending on the feature and the cost of energy). The current PV payback is just not there. We did install conduit so that when the price of PV becomes more attractive, we have the infrastructure already built in to the building so we would not need to retro-fit.
- USE A GEO-THERMAL HEATING OR COOLING SYSTEM?
We explored this possibility as well and discovered that the size of our lot and the type of soil we had were not ideal or practical for geo-thermal, if it were even possible. We also felt the money needed for geo-thermal was better spent on our highly efficient, non conventional heating and cooling system which does have a reasonable payback period.
- HAVE PERVIOUS PAVEMENT IN THE PARKING LOT OR IN AREAS THAT ARE CONCRETE PATHS?
This was an area that we really wanted but could not afford. There was also a concern as to whether they would be accessible enough for people who have trouble walking.
- HAVE BAMBOO OR CORK FLOORS?
This was another area that we really wanted but could not afford. There were several meetings where the Financial Oversight Committee was required to make massive cuts only to discover that they needed to it again after the later estimates came in still higher.
- HAVE COTTON BATTING INSULATION?
The cotton batting, although rapidly renewable, comes from China. We opted for locally manufactured fiberglass for cost reasons.
What is the difference between RECYCLED, RECLAIMED and RAPIDLY RENEWABLE?
Materials that are reprocessed into something very different from the original product, such as plastic grocery bags being recycled into Trex Lumber or the steel from automobiles crushed and melted down and reprocessed into steel beams. Usually they are chemically changed and need to use energy to make this change.
- RECLAIMED or salvaged:
Items that are re-used for essentially the same purpose. The wood siding on the old mushroom houses were cleaned up, re-milled and stained for the new siding on our new Synagogue. The old JRC synagogue bricks and concrete were ground up and reclaimed as fill for the basement. It did not have to be chemically changed for this function.
- RAPIDLY RENEWABLE:
Items that are harvested from plants and turned into new products. These products are substitutes for similar items that wee made by depleting a resource (slow growing trees), but instead, are from plants that can grow fairly quickly.
Do you mind if I ask...?
- We welcome your interest in our building and how we live in it. If you have a question or comment for us please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.