When the Dorot programme was launched in 2022 we committed to measuring and reducing our Synagogues’ and Head Office’s energy consumption as part of a wider plan to reduce the US’s burning of fossil fuels and carbon emissions.

We had already completed phase I and phase II of the government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) audit on 9 sample synagogues and our Head Office in 2020.

Our energy consumption was benchmarked against the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) for places of religious worship and cemeteries. The findings were:

  • The heating fuel usage for the majority of the properties in the sample fell within or below the CIBSE benchmark for heating fuel energy consumption in places of worship.
  • Electricity use across the US portfolio was significantly higher than the benchmark with almost three quarters of shuls having kWh/m² consumption results greater than 20 kWh/m², up to sixteen times higher than the CIBSE benchmark figure.
  • The audit identified energy efficiency measures to achieve annual energy savings for both gas and electricity usage.
  • The ESOS audit concluded that alternative energy and heat sources such as solar panels or ground source heat pumps were generally found to be impractical for the United Synagogue buildings estate, which consists of dozens of synagogues and other buildings of different ages, scale, materials and usage patterns. Simple, often low-cost measures were deemed faster, cheaper and more sustainable.

Following the ESOS reports, the US Property team has worked with the synagogues involved to plan and implement the ESOS recommendations. Since 2020, together with our communities, we have:

  • Installed new energy efficient boilers at a number of sites
  • Identified and encouraged LED light bulb replacement projects
  • Changed the heating and lighting system at US Head Office to a significantly more efficient system, reducing the total energy bills for the large, 3-storey, 100-person building to approximately £50-60 a month.
  • The US moved its electricity supplier for the whole estate to EDF in 2021. EDF currency has the lowest C02 per g/kWh in the UK and now supplies all synagogues and Head Office.

In Summer 2023, the US conducted Phase III of the ESOS audits on our 10 highest energy consuming synagogues.

We have engaged a specialist energy data analysis company, Low Carbon Alliance, to conduct a deep dive analysis of the electric and gas consumption at these sites. Detailed reports including energy saving recommendations will be provided to these 10 sites by April 2023.

The United Synagogue Property team will then work with each community to create a manageable roadmap to implement site-specific energy saving projects.

The United Synagogue has invested around £18,000 into comprehensively investigating our real estate energy usage. This upfront investment will enable us to roll out similar audits across our wider estate.

Once we have the reports for the current 10 highest consumption synagogues, we will provide data-gathering forms to the next 10 synagogues. These will be selected based on rate of consumption. These sites have already been identified and the US Property department will contact community leaders in the coming months to talk synagogue leaders through what is required and what to expect from the process.

If you have any questions about this project please contact Naomi Verber, our Head of Envrionmental Policy via nverber@theus.org.uk.

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