TREES* Greening Initiative

*Torah for Repairing the Environment and Educating Stewards

The goal of the EcoJews TREES greening initiative is to inspire and empower Jewish organizations to go green(er). TREES programming is led by a dedicated group of Jewish and environmental leaders. We welcome anyone who would like to join in this important work.

Questions? Please contact

HOW TO: Green Teams in Jewish Organizations

The TREES task force hosted a fruitful panel discussion focusing on creating Green Teams for Jewish organizations. The event’s moderator, Nikki Pava of EcoTuesday and Alegria Partners, facilitated the conversation with Suzanne Soffer of the JCCSF operations staff, Adam Teitelbaum of EcoDepot and volunteer at Peninsula Sinai Congregation, and our diverse audience. 

We received requests from Jewish organizations that could not attend to share important lessons and a summary of the discussion, and we are pleased to share them here.

In our Jewish community, members of organizations are glad to see green programs being established and implemented. It’s an innovative way to unite your community, and will save your organization money in the long run. The following are six key elements and tips to a successful Green Team & greening program. Please send additional tips to

1. Recruitment

  • Identify specific people to recruit, e.g. an electrical engineer to install a solar Ner Tamid.
  • Include at least one staff member on your Green Team, in addition to volunteers.
  • Talk with people informally and invite them to join you on the Green Team.
  • Hold an event to publicize green programs.

2. Funding and Rebates

  • Evaluate purchasing to find areas for savings.
  • Seek grants and rebates from your city, county and utilities for recycling and compost bins, signage and efficient fixtures for energy and water conservation.
  • Synagogues: Seek grants from men’s club and other groups within organization.
  • Sign up for the Right Lights energy efficiency rebate program at
  • Incentivize sponsorship from your members; offer a sponsorship plaque with donors’ names.
  • Assess your return on investment (ROI) timeline before presenting recommendations to Board of Directors.

3. Educating Members

  • Post lots of signage to clarify and promote waste sorting and other programs. “Landfill” is an impactful term for trash bins!
  • Have volunteers monitor compost and recycling bins at events.
  • Promote green programs in website and newsletters.
  • Post a flyer describing your sustainability efforts inside bathroom stalls.
  • Hold a poster contest for kids to promote recycling, composting, water conservation, carpooling or bike riding.
  • Integrate green into programming.

4. Resources

  • Local Green Business Programs: These are free assistance and recognition programs offered by local governments for businesses and nonprofits. The Green Business checklist for hotels or offices can be used as a guideline for greening your organization. See samples here: or enroll your organization at
  • California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL) helps educate congregations on the theological basis for eco-stewardship and assists them in implementing programs to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become more energy efficient – therefore helping to mitigate the harmful effects of global warming.
  • Give Something Back office supply company offers customers free “Green Office” webinars, complimentary recycling programs and other environmental resources.
  • JCCA has Greening and Social Responsibility initiatives that can provide information to JCCs.

5. Internal Promotion

  • Plan a (Tu B’shvat) office supply swap meet for your staff, with food and a raffle.
  • Send sustainability messaging via office memos and intranet.
  • Integrate into new staff training.

6. Address Challenges

  • Labor: retraining of facilities staff can mean additional cost. Grant funding for greening programs may help balance the costs.
  • You may not get funding approved on your first try. Be tenacious, and find allies on your organization’s Board of Directors.


Resources and Partners

Jewish Energy Guide

The Jewish Energy Guide, published by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) and the Green Zionist Alliance, presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change. It offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the current Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar. Downloadable as a PDF.

Green & Just Guide

This guide from Bend the Arc (formerly Progressive Jewish Alliance) provides resources for California families to incorporate values of social justice and sustainability when planning weddings, b’nai mitzvah, or any other simcha.

Bay Area Green Business Program

This certification program offers assistance to businesses and nonprofits in going green. All nine Bay Area counties run Green Business Programs.

California Interfaith Power & Light

The goal of CIPL is to activate California’s 50,000 congregations to respond to climate change by providing them with links and referrals to local sources of energy audits, building improvements, and solar panel installation. They also help congregational leaders educate their membership about environmental stewardship, conservation and the effects of global warming.

(415) 391-4214

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