One of the biggest Jewish charities in the UK has adopted a green policy to reduce its environmental footprint. The United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) decided that moving to new offices in north London last year was the perfect opportunity to examine how the organisation could reduce its environmental impact. This initiative could have a knock-on effect around the world – even the Middle East.
“Being environmentally responsible runs through everything we do at UJIA. Since moving into our new Camden offices, we have been putting our green principles into practise,” explains David Janner-Klausner, UJIA’s programme and planning director (pictured above, left, alongside UJIA chief executive, Douglas Krikler).
UJIA’s Green Thread involves taking steps to reduce the organisation’s environmental impact, including using low energy lighting, reducing and recycling office waste, using pens made from recycled plastic, as well as furnishing the office with reused or recycled materials. You can read more details at biggreenjewish.org. The key elements are as follows:
• Saving energy
• Reducing waste
• Encouraging green travel
• Sustainable purchasing and materials policies.
Being environmentally conscious also means that the organisation has become more cost-efficient – bills for both electricity and gas have been slashed by 78% in the first year at UJIA’s new building. Even allowing for the smaller office size, these are dramatic reductions.
It demonstrates the importance of both efficient use of energy and “right-sizing” – minimising occupancy of non-productive space that needs to be lit, heated and maintained.
Inspired by the Book of Joshuah
The Green Thread scheme was inspired by the Book of Joshua, where a thread was dangled from the walls of Jericho to mark the home of Rachav to save her family when the city was destroyed. The thread is a symbol of hope and redemption and remains relevant to today’s environmental challenges:
“Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.” (Joshua 2:18)
UJIA, which also has offices in northern England, Glasgow, Tel Aviv and the Galil, invests in young people and education in the UK and the north of Israel. Its work generates a lot of carbon emissions through air travel to Israel, leaving the organisation with the dilemma of how to maintain strong links with Israel whilst flying less.
“With the prevalence of cheap flights, air travel is more popular than ever before”, says Janner-Klausner. ”However, the economic environment and the mood towards flying could change rapidly. It may well be that in a few years, short-stay trips to Israel will be unsustainable and the whole model of engagement needs to be rethought.”
In the north of Israel, UJIA supports a number of green initiatives including building the new School of Management at the Western Galilee College near Akko, which will be the first “green” faculty building in Israel built to meet sustainable construction standards. Other projects funded by UJIA include River Rangers which recruits schoolchildren to clean up the banks of the Jordan River and learn about environmental responsibility, as well as developing community gardens in the border town of Kiryat Shmona.
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Submitted to Green Prophet by a member of UJIA staff