The new synagogue for the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, is the Greenest Synagogue in Illinois and probably in America as well.
From reusing materials from the previous structure, to milling the trees that were displaced during construction into the front doors of the building, the atmosphere of this facility is warm all year long and embraces sustainable design in various ways. Strategically placed environmentally friendly windows allow for day lighting to fill the 32,000 sq. ft. interior with bright, natural, warm sunlight, without all excess heat and glare.
Concrete, brick, and limestone from other local demolition sites were crushed on-site and placed into wire cages to create gabion rubble walls that enclose the edges of gardens and children’s playgrounds. The concrete and brick from the original site was ground and used as engineering fill for the foundation of the new building.
The building also plays host to a storm water detention garden, which lowers the amount of water that filters into the storm sewer from the property by 30%.
On the inside of the building, low flow toilets and energy efficient sinks and appliances compliment the aforementioned garden, bringing the total water savings to about 41% of a comparable structure’s use.
Reclaimed Cypress slats line the walls and many ceilings. These slats serve a multitude of purposes. The slats provide a warm look and great acoustics barrier. Reclaimed dark walnut from fallen or diseased trees from the Chicago Park District was milled for the steps and surface of the raised podium in the sanctuary.
Flooring throughout the building is no more than exposed concrete that has been polished, saving the money and resources required for a new floor. Even the woodwork and cabinets throughout the building are made of pressed sunflower seeds.