Smart energy solutions

Why are we talking about energy?

Annually, the United Synagogue consumes almost 9 million kilowatt hours (‘kWh’) of energy. This represents 1,885 tons of carbon emissions.1

Most of the energy used by the US (70%) in our buildings, is used for heating, which also accounts for 57% of our carbon emissions. 

We must act to manage our heating (whatever the method) and electricity use efficiently to reduce our carbon footprint and save money.

The results of our audit process:

The United Synagogue undertook the government’s ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) audit in December 2019, using a sample of 9 synagogue sites, three large, three medium and three small, plus the US headquarters at 305 Ballards Lane. Our energy consumption was benchmarked against the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers ('CIBSE') for places of religious worship and cemeteries; the findings were:

Electricity use across the US portfolio is significantly more than the benchmark with almost three quarters of shuls having kWh/m² consumption results greater than 20 kWh/m², up to sixteen times higher than the CIBSE benchmark figure.

The heating fuel usage for around 60% of the properties in the sample fell within or below the CIBSE benchmark for heating fuel energy consumption in places of worship. 

The audit identified energy efficiency measures to achieve annual energy savings of 1,311,837 kWh. This is approximately 15% of the current total building energy use and carbon footprint and corresponds to financial savings of £59,894.50 for the US.

The ESOS audit concluded that alternative energy and heat sources such as solar panels or ground source heat pumps were generally found to be impractical for the US built estate, which consists of 55+ synagogues and other buildings of different vintages, scales and materials and usage patterns. Simple, often low-cost insulation measures were deemed faster, cheaper and more effective.


What are we going to do?

We will work with communities to measure, monitor and reduce  energy use, including:

  1. Through continuing to implement ESOS recommendations at US Centre where appropriate;

  2. Through working with the nine ESOS-audited communities to implement ESOS recommendations where appropriate;

  3. Through supporting appropriate site-specific use of meters, sub-meters and thermostats; and

  4. Where appropriate, asking every community not yet audited to undertake the ESOS audit and address audit recommendations.



  1. This calculation can be made by applying DEFRA carbon factor conversion tables to the figure for energy used.