Going Green

The Associated Expanding its Green Initiatives

In the wake of climate change, The Associated is doing its part to go “green.” From solar farms to green loans to reforestation, the organization is making a commitment to a more sustainable future.

“Climate change is real and is already affecting millions of people around the globe,” says Jakir Manela, Pearlstone’s chief executive officer.  “Just as many Jewish leaders stood up during the Civil Rights movement to push forward that critical progress for our country, so must we do so now.”

Pearlstone, an Associated agency, is at the forefront of these efforts.

Promoting Energy Conservation

This year, Pearlstone, partnering with The Associated, will expand our successful green loan energy fund program by expanding it to all faith-based organizations. Previously limited to Jewish organizations – synagogues, Associated agencies and day schools – the new program will encourage increased energy efficiency in the community.

Since establishing the program in 2010, The Associated has issued more than $600,000 in green loans to 14 local Jewish institutions. Organizations such as Beth Tfiloh Congregation, Beth Israel Congregation, the JCC and the Talmudical Academy have used these loans to support energy conservation through lighting upgrades and renovations to heating and cooling systems, saving their organizations significant money each year. As a result, they have received significant savings both in energy and dollars.

Qualifying organizations can now receive green project loans, up to $150,000, and repayable over five years.

Solar Initiatives

The Associated recently signed a 20-year lease agreement for a solar farm, located in Howard County, to be built to offset its electricity consumption. Pending approval from Howard County, when the farm becomes operational, it is estimated that The Associated and its agencies will receive 50 percent of its electrical demand from the farm. However, Pearlstone will receive 75 percent.

At the same time, Pearlstone is looking to reach 100 percent clean energy in the future by adding solar panels to its lodge rooftops and developing a ground mount solar system that would provide power and allow the sheep to graze beneath the panels.

Partnering with Neighborhood Sun, Pearlstone is offering community residents who pay electric bills the chance to subscribe to solar energy. Working with two solar farms for this initiative, Pearlstone will offer residents locally produced, clean energy, while saving them money on their utility bills.

Reforestation Project

The Associated system has made a conscious effort to improve the local ecosystem by planting trees that ultimately improve water and air quality, reduce runoff and help decrease harmful ultraviolet radiation. It is part of a larger strategy for land sustainability.

Pearlstone’s ecological master plan for their 180-acre campus calls for planting thousands of trees, and now offers a Gift a Tree program that engages community members in supporting this reforestation effort, both through donations and actual tree-planting events in both spring and fall.

In addition, The Associated as part of this effort, has planted a significant number of trees at the Jewish cemeteries at Bowleys Quarters.

Advocacy

Once again, The Associated and its agencies, Pearlstone and the Baltimore Jewish Council, will offer an Environmental Advocacy Forum, featuring leading environmental advocates. The program held on December 9, 6:00 p.m. at Brown Advisory, will be a chance to learn about environmental issues in the upcoming Maryland legislative session and receive tools for navigating the political landscape. Keynote speaker is Sarah Elfreth, Maryland State Senator for the 30th district, who is one of two senators representing Maryland on the multi-state Chesapeake Bay Commission.

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