Green Project

In June 2011, AJC became the first national Jewish organization to receive LEED gold certification. The U.S. Green Building Council designation came after AJC transformed its New York headquarters into an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient office building.

"Securing LEED certification for an existing building - indeed, ours was built in 1959 - is a cause for celebration," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Retrofitting our New York headquarters, not a simple task by any stretch of the imagination, underscores our responsibility to protect the environment and lead by example."

AJC's action received plaudits from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "We applaud AJC for demonstrating a commitment to the environmentally friendly innovations that are so critical to our residents' quality of life," Bloomberg wrote in a letter to AJC. "Together, we look forward to AJC's National Headquarters serving as a green design model for more non-profits and corporate citizens across the five boroughs."

The project, which began in 2006, involved, among other initiatives, a major overhaul of building systems and operations, including building heating, ventilating, air conditioning and lighting systems as well as improving building controls.

"AJC headquarters already has reduced total power usage by some 45 percent, and water usage by 20 percent," said Harris. "The investments in more efficient and environmentally friendly machinery and materials already have yielded significant savings."

Presenting the LEED certification was Russell Unger, executive director of the New York Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. "LEED dovetails with what AJC is all about," said Unger, who pointed out that the AJC building already is less expensive to operate. He encouraged AJC to tell other organizations that "LEED makes sense."

AJC achieved LEED certification based on a number of green initiatives and operation improvements that positively influence the project itself and the broader community. These features include:
  • A full-scale lighting retrofit that involved replacing 562 inefficient fixtures with 281 high-efficiency fixtures. Additionally, 99 occupancy sensors were installed to minimize unnecessary power usage in private offices and restrooms. An energy audit in 2005 revealed that lighting accounted for nearly 50 percent of electrical power consumed by AJC at its headquarters. Today, lighting accounts for 25 percent of electrical power
  • A Low Mercury Lighting Plan was introduced to replace obsolete light bulbs with bulbs containing less mercury, reducing the amount of harmful neurotoxins found in fluorescent lights.
  • Replaced all building toilets and urinals with low-flow units. New toilets consume 1.28 gallons of water per flush (gpf) and new urinals consume 0.5 gpf, as opposed to 1.6 gpf and 1.0 gpf, respectively, consumed by the previous toilets. As a result, AJC reduced water consumption by approximately 50,000 gallons of water per year.
  • Replaced a 60-year-old air conditioning unit with an electric chiller that is five times more efficient.
  • Initiated a Recycling Program including paper, cardboard, plastics, metals, glass, batteries, light bulbs, and electronics that yielded a 70 percent recycling rate.
  • Developed a comprehensive sustainable procurement program, so that 90 percent of supplies contain sustainable features.
  • Implemented a Green Cleaning Program that uses 100 percent non-toxic Green Seal certified products, which protects building occupants from harmful chemicals.
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