Firm gives shuls chance to go green

Someone has finally found a use for all the hot air generated in synagogues.

The British arm of German company Stiebel-Eltron, which specialises in renewable energy, is offering a free “energy efficiency” survey of any synagogue and adjoining hall in the country.

The survey will examine the heat loss and demands of the building and then make recommendations about how to cut costs and energy bills. It will also point up the incentives for the synagogue to go “green”.

UK managing director Mark McManus said: “Our machines can receive heat from would-be exhaust or used air, and make domestic hot water.”

The company has already carried out surveys in schools and Roman Catholic and other churches. “We will look at any communal building and synagogues certainly fall into that category,” said Mr McManus. “Every synagogue is different, so each one will need a site-specific survey.

“We believe there is a desire among synagogues to go ‘green’. But there is a misconception that installing green energy products is expensive, whereas they might actually help save money.”

One person who welcomed the offer was Birmingham Progressive Synagogue member Elsbeth Mendes da Costa, who carried out a sustainable synagogues audit for the Liberal Judaism movement 18 months ago when she was part of the organisation’s Social Action group.

“This sounds like a very good idea. What we did was send out a check-list to get people to look at everything in their synagogue, including heating and energy. But if this company can turn hot air into water — well, that’s great,” said Mrs Mendes da Costa.

“I am all in favour of making shuls greener. I believe it’s an obligation, a moral imperative not to waste the resources of our earth.

“The only difficulty could be that it is probably expensive and probably beyond the reach of most small communities and maybe some larger ones. But it’s certainly worth looking at.”

Michael Gluckman, chief executive of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues, was equally enthusiastic: “I can think of plenty of hot air that is recyclable. If this company were to get in touch I am sure some of our communities would be happy to have them in.”

Brian Humphreys, of the Big Green Jewish Website, said: “We have been trying to produce something that shuls could use to get this information and we could certainly put this on the BGJ website so it is available to everyone.”

    Last updated: 4:25pm, April 29 2009