Teaching yeshivas to save money by going green


By Mayer Fertig

Issue of May 8, 2009 / 14 Iyar 5769

Saving money by going green was the topic of the second meeting between administrators of Jewish schools in Nassau County and Far Rockaway, and Yeshiva University's National School Affordability Team. Sixteen schools attended the gathering at Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island last week. Administrators heard from the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), National Grid and other presenters.

“A number of schools are doing new construction,” noted Eli Shapiro,

regional coordinator for the school affordability program and a Far Rockaway resident. “There are retrofitting opportunities where schools can save money” as well.

The utility companies offer free audits to help schools find efficiencies and potential savings, Shapiro said. Also, three schools in the Five Towns and Far Rockaway will receive consulting grants from YU. Three schools have already submitted applications, he said.

The meeting on April 30 got high marks from Shalom Siegfried, Yeshiva Ketana's director of development. He said he has already followed up with LIPA about rebates and other money-saving ideas mentioned at the meeting.

“The takeaway idea was that there are a lot of things that yeshivas can do to help themselves in these difficult economic times,” he said. He gave the YU team high marks for “professionalism” and a “proactive approach.”

“The meeting was good,” said Shmuel Reisbaum, executive director of TAG. He also followed up on tips offered by the energy companies and contacted a company that reviews utility bills for possible additional savings.

A downside is that “for a lot of these [conservation ideas] you have to be in a position to spend money to save money. The problem is the schools don't have money today. We’re all struggling to survive. For example, I can't think about a $100,000 lighting project just because they're going to give me $50,000. You still have to spend $100,000,” he explained.

Reisbaum noted that TAG has “been thinking along the green lines for quite some time already. Two to three years ago we went green in terms of our cleaning chemicals –– the floor wax and cleaner we use.”

The school's construction plans, now on hold [see article above], also have a significant energy saving component. “We were going to have rooftop playgrounds. We were going to have lawns and rooftop gardens,” Reisbaum said.

The meeting was held in a building that Yeshiva Ketana just opened last September and, according to Siegfried, the LIPA official who was present noted that care had been taken “in terms of the right lighting, and LED exit signs, and [the school had] done our homework ... the right things in terms of cost savings and ecological concerns.”

Participating schools included B'nos Bais Yaakov, Bnot Shulamith, Brandeis Academy, HAFTR, HALB, HANC, Mesivta Ateres Yaakov, Mesivta of Bayswater, Sh'or Yoshuv, Talmud Torah Siach Yitzchok, Torah Academy for Girls, Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns, Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island and Yeshiva of South Shore.

Shapiro praised all the schools that were at the meeting.

“Sixteen schools from incredibly diverse backgrounds working toward the common goal of school affordability is really remarkable,” he said.

The meeting is planned for early summer. The topic will be determined by the results of a survey being sent to the school administrators.