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NFTY Convention Goes Green!

NFTY Convention Goes Green!

rj_greening_final logo.jpgLast weekend, I had the chance of a lifetime, reliving my days in NFTY while serving as a Resident Advisor at NFTY Convention 2011 in Dallas, Texas. Just as many of the URJ camps (such as Camp Newman, Camp Jacobs and my own Greene Family Camp) are working to increase their commitment to the environment, the NFTY staff went to great lengths to make Convention as green as possible!

Sustainability was on display everywhere, from our hotel to the program itself. The Fairmont Dallas, our home for the weekend, is known for its truly amazing Green Partnership program. The Fairmont was the first global hotel brand to partner with the World Wildlife Fund Climate Savers Program, committing to reduce its carbon footprint, by 2013, to 20% lower than their 2006 levels.

Energy- and resource-savers are on display throughout the hotel: The bathrooms have water-efficient showerheads and tap aerators, and guests can choose to keep their towels for an extra day, reducing water and energy used on laundry. As you walk around the hotel, you see extensive use of energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs.The hotel is committed to reducing waste and takes the care to use the most environmentally responsible supplies available, from the food on their menus to the cleaning products.

Our green Convention experience went beyond the hotel when we had an amazing opportunity to visit Cowboys Stadium, the home of  the Dallas Cowboys. Completed in 2009, the stadium has many features that make it a very "green" building.

The NFTYites met Scott Woodrow, Director of Engineering, to learn more about these green features. Mr. Woodrow explained that the stadium did not seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction certification, the premiere green building standard in the United States. Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. and Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota were the first two professional sports stadiums in the United States to receive this achievement, and the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (home of NFTY Convention 2007!) recently became the first LEED-Accredited stadium in the NHL. We quickly learned, however, that it does not take the LEED-certified seal to be a green building. There is much going on inside those large glass doors.

Yes, at each end of the stadium are five of the largest sliding glass doors in the world. When open, these doors allow a free flow of air through the building, providing natural ventilation, reducing the cooling load on the building and saving energy.

Additionally, the roof of the stadium is made of a special white plastic material that reflects most of the sun's energy, naturally moderating stadium temperature. The windows along the sides of the building are double -paned and angled to slow down the thermal heat gain into the building, also reducing the cooling load.

It doesn't end with saving energy. One of the stadium's four trash compactors is devoted solely to recycling plastic and aluminum cans and bottles, which amount to nearly 20% of the trash accumulated within the stadium. With all of the cardboard boxes used to supply the concessions stands and the Cowboys' Pro Shop, the stadium has an on-site baler so that all of the boxes used can be recycled.

Even the stadium's kitchen is going green, using the Orca Green Machine compactor to compost food waste into liquid at a rate of 2,400 pounds a day! The food waste is broken down into "gray water" or liquid compost that is flushed down the drain and can then be used for irrigation and other uses.

According to Mr. Woodrow, they are looking to eventually power the stadium on game days completely with renewable energy. While some different choices could have been made during construction, such as using locally sourced wood instead of wood imported from Africa, Cowboys Stadium is helping lead the way in a new era of sustainable building design across the United States and the world. Through this site visit, coupled with the RAC's program on offshore drilling and energy policy, Convention participants had first-hand experience with sustainable building practices and environmental advocacy.

It is great that our teens were able to learn about and actually see the changes being made to preserve the environment for their lifetime, and I hope they will use these lessons to follow the theme of this year's Convention: "Make It Good Now!"

Brian Hertz is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin,
majoring in civil engineering. He spent the summer of 2010 working at the
Sustainability Coordinator at the URJ's Greene Family Camp in
Bruceville, Texas.
This entry is part of our "Let's Get Sustainable" blog post
series - look for an environmentally-themed post each Monday and learn
more on our
Greening Reform Judaism web portal.

Published: 2/28/2011

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