Colorado Jewish Climate Action offers support for new Denver ordinance

Aug 28, 2023 | Article, Newsletter

Colorado Jewish Climate Action offers support for new Denver ordinance

Aug 28, 2023

When Moshe Kornfeld, Founder and Director of Colorado Jewish Climate Action (CJCA), addresses the large issue of global climate change and its impact on local communities, he wisely starts with a small story drawn from the Talmud.

It is the tale of Honi, who sees another man planting a carob tree. “How long will it be before this tree produces fruit?” Honi asks the man. The answer? “Seventy years.”

Honi asks another question. “How will that benefit you, who are planting the tree today?”

“Just as my ancestors planted for me, I too am planting for my descendants,” the man answers.

CJCA Climate Summit at HEA

CJCA Climate Summit at HEA

With that theme of L’dor V’dor front and center, Kornfeld partnered with JEWISHcolorado to convene a recent meeting via Zoom on ways to bring climate action to the forefront of the Jewish communal agenda in Colorado.

“We received a world that is life sustaining,” Kornfeld said. “I want to pass that world along to my descendants.”

Working with secular, interfaith, and frontline allies, CJCA mobilizes Colorado Jews and Jewish institutions to engage in climate action. They are pursuing just solutions to the climate crisis with a focus on education, youth empowerment, advocacy, and greening Jewish institutions. In recent months, CJCA led a climate summit at the Hebrew Educational Alliance, a lobbying day at the capitol, and a climate action bike ride.

On Monday, August 22, after an introduction by JEWISHcolorado’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) Director Dr. Dan Leshem, Kornfeld tackled the topic of the day—the Greening Jewish Institutions Initiative.

Greening Jewish Institutions Initiative

The Greening Jewish Institutions Initiative has brought together a committee of Jewish community professionals, community members, as well as solar and energy efficiency experts, an architect, and an engineer, to help Jewish organizations comply with the Energize Denver Ordinance.

Passed in 2016, the ordinance requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced in existing commercial and multifamily buildings by 30%. It establishes Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets for buildings 25,000 sq. ft. and larger. Buildings must meet a final EUI target by 2030, with interim targets in 2025 and 2027.

CJCA Advocacy Day at the Colorado State Capitol.

CJCA Advocacy Day at the Colorado State Capitol.

Compliance with these ambitious and mandatory benchmarks is not a simple matter for the uninitiated. To help Jewish organizations, CJCA relies on its ongoing interactions with the Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency to offer resources—including a step-by-step guide—that help organizations comply with the Energize Denver Ordinance.

“You should have benchmarked your building’s energy use in 2019 and every year since,” Kornfeld advised stakeholders at the meeting. “Your 2025 and 2027 goals are calculated by drawing a line from your 2019 energy use to your 2030 energy goal, and there are steep fines for non-compliance.”

The solar solution

CJCA can act as a resource for institutions seeking to set up energy audits, implement efficiency upgrades, and take advantage of city, state, and federal incentives and rebates that will help offset the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, Kornfeld acknowledged, “electrification is expensive.” CJCA is offering organizations guidance and support.

“We’re also proposing a community solar project,” Kornfeld said. “By collaborating we can have more buying power, reduce the cost, and streamline the solar process for Jewish community buildings.”

The Community Solar Project would be available to all institutions that own their own buildings. CJCA will act as a project coordinator. Interested organizations would need to share a minimum of 12 months of Xcel bills with CJCA.

CJCA Climate Action Bike Ride

CJCA Climate Action Bike Ride

As buildings become more energy efficient, Denver’s air quality will improve. Denver has set a long-term goal of net-zero emissions by 2040. CJCA would like to see the Jewish community take the lead and set an example both locally and nationally for net-zero action.

The first steps have already been taken—convening the community to work on a shared project, helping organizations work on their individual plans, and serving as an intermediary to streamline the process to comply with Denver’s ambitious climate action goals.

For more information about the Greening Jewish Institutions Initiative, contact Moshe Kornfeld at