You are here

Spertus Institute Now Powered 100% By Renewable Energy

Spertus Institute Now Powered 100% By Renewable Energy


Initiative will save 6,200 tons of CO2 
from entering the atmosphere annually 

(Chicago) The glass-fronted Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is now powered by 100% renewable energy, a transition that will save 6,200 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over the next three years and adding to the Institute’s already significant list of sustainable practices.

Designed by Chicago-based Krueck & Sexton Architects, the unique Spertus Institute building opened at 610 S. Michigan Avenue in 2007. It has since won numerous architectural awards including honors from the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, and has become an admired addition to the innovative architecture for which Chicago is renowned.

From the outset, environmental sustainability has been an important component of the building’s design and operation, and is reflected in Spertus meeting the Silver Level of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating System®.

“Spertus Institute’s commitment to environmental sustainability goes well beyond our desire to do the right thing by being a good corporate citizen,” said Spertus President and CEO Dr. Hal M. Lewis. “Conservation and environmentalism are Jewish imperatives, woven into the fiber of our sacred teachings of tikkun olam (partnering with God to repair the world) and ba’al taschit (prohibitions against wasting). As an institute for Jewish learning and leadership, we are proud to take the lead in this regard. We go to great lengths to live the wisdom of these treasured precepts in everything we do at Spertus, from including them in the curriculum in our graduate and professional programs to their integration into the architecture of our building to our recycling policies and utility contracts.”

To realize the move to 100% renewable energy, Spertus signed a three-year contract with Direct Energy to receive renewable energy certificates (RECs) that match its energy consumption. RECs represent purchases of power from renewable sources like wind and solar. “We wanted to enhance our commitment to sustainability,” said Spertus Director of Operations Mark Akgulian. “And we were able to do so in a way that also reduces our overall energy costs. I hope by doing so, we serve as an example to other organizations.” 

The Spertus Institute building features many examples of sustainable design and energy-efficient operations, including: 

  • The windows in the building’s glass façade are fritted (ceramic dots called frits are bonded onto the glass) to control heat gain and glare.  
  • A 6,700-square-foot green roof (planted with special vegetation) allows rainwater to evaporate rather than enter the sewer system. The green roof also absorbs air pollution and keeps the building cool in the summer, helping mitigate the urban heat effect, a phenomenon that causes the city to be 2 to 10 degrees warmer than nearby rural areas.
  • The cleaning products used within the facility are Green Seal certified. Paints and other building materials are low- or no-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds).
  • Spertus separates recyclables and compostables from its trash, saving approximately 40 tons of waste from entering landfills each year.

Spertus Institute staff members recommend the following websites and organizations for those wishing to learn more about sustainability, both in general and within Judaism: 

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is a partner in serving our community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013