The Audrey and Bill Farber Family IDEA Collaborative was designed with specific attention to the environment and our relationship to it. If you are at Hillel on a sunny day, you will notice that no electric lights are needed in the new miznon (café). Twenty-four solar tubes brightly light the space using the energy from the sun. If electrical lights are needed, highly efficient LED lights brighten the space as well as every other new space in the Collaborative. Wherever it was possible, windows, sky lights and doors to the outside were installed to bring in natural light. Natural light not only saves energy, but also helps to boost the morale of those in the space.
A “cool” element to the new space is revealed by taking a good look at the work tables and the IT help desk in the ma’ayan (innovation hub). All of the materials for the tables and desk come from the floor of the old Dorfman Gym. Instead of discarding the old wood when the gym was demolished to create the new miznon (café), it was repurposed to make the tables and desk. They are not only functional and nice looking, they are environmentally friendly. The only down side is that every time I use one of the tables I want to play basketball on it!
The new greenhouse and new outdoor learning spaces will bring our children closer to the natural environment and allow them to learn how to better care for the earth. Whether it will be through growing vegetables to be used in the miznon or the use of hydroponics as a “generative life support system,” enabling plants to be grown in controlled environments where they otherwise would be unable to do so, students will be able to create environments that allow them to better understand the use of natural resources in a respectful manner. Outdoor environmental learning areas will also deepen our students’ understanding of the mitzvah of Bal Taschit – protecting the environment by not destroying natural resources. Ample access points to the outside learning patios and centers will make the outdoors an extension of our indoor learning spaces.
Our relationship with the environment is sacred. God created the world for humans, and in return, it is our responsibility to care for it and to protect it. Our efforts to become a Green School reflect our core value of Tikun Olam, repairing the world as God’s partner.
The holiday of Sukkot begins next week – what better time to celebrate Hillel as a Green School than right now! Sukkot brings us very close to nature and reminds us of our relationship with the earth and our responsibility to it; Sukkot reminds us to express gratitude to God for the gifts of the natural world – its food, resources and profound beauty.
Hillel Day School is committed to our Jewish core values, and our efforts will only continue to increase as our students and staff continue to work on reducing Hillel’s ecological footprint and inspire our community to be ecologically-minded citizens. Hillel will continue its extensive recycling program and waste-free lunch program. In addition, we are excited to see what will transpire as our children immerse themselves in the possibilities presented in our new greenhouse and outdoor learning spaces.