The awards just keep on coming for Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy’s successful efforts at becoming eco-friendly.
A 2013 Green Award is the latest recognition. It comes from Bethesda Magazine and Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership aimed at promoting sustainable living practices. The award went to a “community group that has significantly incorporated green practices into their culture and operations.”
Obtaining solar panels, using less paper and electricity, signing a wind power contract, installing a rain garden and planting trees are just some of the work the school has accomplished in its efforts to go green.
“We didn’t lay out a penny” for all these initiatives, noted Jennifer Zuckerman, the school’s development director. “We only saved money,” she said. The one expense the school did incur involved roof repairs, but that had to be done regardless of the environmental work, she said.
Besides leaving a smaller “footprint,” the school in Rockville is also educating its students about the environment.
A flat screen monitor near the lobby of the school lets anyone who passes by see what energy the school is generating at that time from its solar panels. The monitor also lets the students understand what those numbers mean, noting that a particular amount of energy can power 12 coffee pots, for instance.
Going green began a few years ago when Headmaster Josh Levisohn made a commitment to use less paper, less power and fewer materials. This went hand-in-hand with the school’s core value of taking responsibility for themselves, the community and the world, the school wrote in its application for the award.
Berman Academy is the only Jewish day school in the country to be recognized as a Green Power Partner by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011, 2012 and 2013, according to the school. It ranked 18th in the nation for green power usage by schools.
The school has more than 800 solar panels. Installation of those panels has saved the school 40 percent compared to its previous electricity costs during the last fiscal year.
The school claims to be producing and using more than 1 million kilowatts of green power from these solar panels and wind power. The school received the award Oct. 3 at the Bethesda Green Gala, held at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.