Israel’s strong and established communities are consuming roughly twice as much energy as are their weaker counterparts, a study released by the Environmental Protection Ministry on Tuesday said.

The study is the preliminary result of the “Environmental Tag” project of the Center for Local Government and the Environmental Protection Ministry, which studied public spending in various sectors of 60 local authorities for the past two years. By evaluating the spending, the project aims to increase efficiency in the public consumption of natural resources like power and water as well as reduce waste generation and increase awareness about recycling. One of the main conclusions of the study was that with higher socioeconomic status comes higher public power consumption, the Environment Ministry reported.

The average power consumption measured in the study was approximately 211 kilowatthours per resident per year. In disadvantaged communities, however, that number fell to about 118 kilowatt-hours per resident per year, while in more affluent communities it grew to 262 kilowatt-hours per resident per year, the study found.

The study showed that more than half of the power consumption was traced to outdoor lighting, while educational institutions were using just one-third of public power supply. In the stronger local authorities, the public spaces were bigger and public outdoor lighting was more developed. However, the stronger cities did in general demonstrate more efficient and economical use of electricity in their schools and office buildings, despite less crowded classrooms and larger offices, the study acknowledged.

In the water sector, the study showed that about half of public water consumption occurs for the benefit of landscaping, and only about one-quarter is used for public institutions.

As far as waste management goes, between 4 and 8 percent of city budgets were being used for handling garbage, and the average amount of trash recycled rested at about 23%.

The local authorities that participated in the project have received support and training, including professional courses, the Environmental Protection Ministry said. The administrators intend to add more local authorities to the assessments in the future and launch a public relations campaign that will influence electricity consumption levels.

“Expenses on electricity, water and waste are a tremendous portion of the expenditures of an authority, and through fairly simple measures it is possible to reduce them and allocate more money to education or lowering property taxes,” said Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz. “An authority that functions in a green way is also an authority that functions cost effectively, and residents know that their municipal tax dollars are not being wasted on lighting in buildings that do not house a soul. Here [one can see] the unbreakable connection between social justice and environmental justice that I have championed for decades.”

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