Icy streets and biting winds following last week’s winter storm are keeping us on our toes for the next one. We asked our Operations & Maintenance certificate holders how they’ve been preparing their buildings to keep residents safe and warm. Here are some of their expert tips:
1. BE PREPARED
Stay advised of weather conditions for your area.
Make sure you have adequate hands on staff for snow removal, de-icing and weather related emergencies.
Keep stock of cold weather tools and supplies, including ice melt, spreaders, snow shovels, snow blowers, and appropriate outdoor clothing and protection.
Plan and prepare for the possibility of frozen pipes and flooding from cracked pipes. Know where your water shut off valves are and have mops and wet vacuums ready in the event of flooding.
Shut down all exterior hose bibs.
2. TAKE A LOOK
Contact residents from each apartment to make sure there is circulation in their heating system.
Check for and remove any snow and ice buildup around roof vents to avoid leakage of melt into units inside the building.
3. FIND & FILL HOLES
Take advantage of the frigid temperatures and heavy winds to find out where you might need to add or replace vapor barriers and insulation. Go around your building to look, listen and feel for air infiltration.
For a more accurate inspection, use a laser thermometer to check temperatures in ceiling cavities where there are pipes and insulate wherever you find unusually low temperatures.
4. STAY SUPER
Keep up with ordinary seasonal duties. Your daily tasks are not only necessary to save significant amounts of energy (and money!) but during this deep freeze, you are critical to protect the health and wellbeing of your building occupants.
Urban Green is eligible to receive nearly $600,000 from NYSERDA over the next two years to offset training costs for 2,700 students across New York State. GPRO courses will be discounted by 70% in 2014 and 60% in 2015.
With this funding, we will train 550 building operators to improve building efficiency and reduce waste; we will show 865 property managers and 670 construction managers how to improve indoor air quality and prevent pollution; we will teach 212 HVACR technicians about the role of mechanical systems in green building; and we will help 340 plumbers and 80 subcontractors understand how their direct actions on job sites affect the sustainability of the projects they are working on.
These workers will create healthier, more sustainable, and energy-efficient buildings across the state, in addition to increasing their job marketability due to growing demands for green building.
First come first served! If your company or organization is interested in offering discounted GPRO training for your employees, please let us know as soon as possible by contacting Sarah at email@example.com. If you are an individual interested in GPRO training, please let us know by filling out this form, as discounted public classes will also be available.
With up to 20% energy savings in each building – the numbers are clear. Green building operations and maintenance is helping residents, property owners, and the environment, but what about the agents of change themselves?
Victor, Resident Manager at The Whitney (311 East 38th Street), says that the training critically changed his view on buildings and health. Becoming a Green Super gave him “renewed passion to learn more” about the repetitive tasks he performs in his daily work, and turned his job into a legacy for his family and future generations. His attitude of “If not us, then who? And if not now, then when?” is much needed to address climate change mitigation and adaptation here and around the world.
Marat, Resident Manager at The Future Condominiums (200 East 32nd Street), inherited a building from another Green Super who had already made a huge impact by upgrading boilers and heat-pumps in his building. Marat completed his own projects from “no-brainer” solutions like insulating steam-pipes in boiler rooms to large-scale installation of efficient lighting, water fixtures, and PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) insulation in residents’ apartments. This training helped Marat find a more advanced and secure job with a larger company.
Another Green Super said, “It’s good to get likeminded people in one room, to bring awareness. It becomes a cultural change, a practical way of thinking. It’s all about taking ownership of your building.”
Green training programs are quickly improving perspective and practice in the building industry. With this fundamental drive, building operators can use GPRO Operations & Maintenance Essentials training to sharpen their technical and entrepreneurial skills, by learning how to choose and install appropriate technologies. Successfully transitioning to a more sustainable building also requires communication skills to educate property owners and residents on new practices.
The skills taught by the Green Supers training reaches beyond the superintendents to their team members and the decision-makers investing in the Supers’ proposed energy efficiency projects.
Training programs like Green Supers have unprecedented financial and environmental value – the personal and social investment are what make green building training a critical step towards a more sustainable New York.
A recent New York Times piece by Maria Konnikova regarding the psychology of self-control got me thinking about why we as a society have so much difficulty finding the “discipline” to address climate change.
Psychologists have long known that positive rewards influence behavior. However, Konnikova reports new research that the more uncertain the time frame of the expected reward, the less likely we are to act in pursuit of that reward. The classic “marshmallow study” determined the level of kids’ self control by measuring how long each 4-year-old would wait to eat one marshmallow for a reward of two marshmallows later on. It turns out that the study didn’t account for the uncertainty about how long each kid expected to wait because this “temporal uncertainty” can make the reward seem much less important.
Or, to put it in terms of sustainability, if we knew the exact schedule of the coming effects of climate change, we would actively prepare for them and then rejoice in our preparedness when the storm hit. However, given the uncertainty of when effects of climate change will directly affect us, we are much less motivated to prepare, or more importantly, to mitigate the effects of climate change that the scientific consensus says will occur within 25-40 years.
The effects of climate change are already happening. While we saw people rushing to contribute to Sandy relief last year and Heiyan relief now, why don’t we see similar public urgency towards the adoption of mitigation strategies or even towards overarching disaster preparation?
New York City is to be applauded for the work it’s doing to both prepare for the coming effects of climate change and to mitigate its intensity, despite the uncertainty of when it may occur. Factoring in “temporal uncertainty,” how can we more effectively persuade individual citizens to take action now? Another Superstorm will occur, or maybe it will be a catastrophic heat wave next time – just because we don’t know exactly when or where doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take action now.
As New York City’s boilers begin to work longer hours, so do the superheroes of our buildings – cleaning equipment, repairing leaky windows, and responding to heating complaints as the temperatures drop.
Over 1,000 of New York City’s buildings are run by superintendents capable of answering these calls of duty, while also saving energy and money for property owners and improving the comfort of our homes. These supers are graduates of 32BJ’s 1,000 Green Supers training program, a 40-hour course provided by the Thomas Shortman Training Fund that engages technical knowledge of energy and water efficient practices and products, and context for why these practices help build a better future for our city. Graduates of the program earn both BPI’s Energy Efficient Building Operator Certification and Urban Green’s GPRO Certificate in Operations and Maintenance Essentials.
How does this training translate into real change in our buildings? A collaborative study by 32BJ and Steven Winter Associates investigated the impacts of the 1,000 Supers program via interviews with 38 Green Supers and energy audits of 43 buildings.
Almost all of the supers interviewed (95%) successfully implemented energy efficiency measures within a year of graduation, mainly for new lighting (71%), but also for more costly investments such as HVAC (45%) and envelope (34%) system upgrades. The majority (80%) made changes in practices within a year, especially operation of HVAC (47%) and lighting systems (32%), and building envelope maintenance (32%). Results from the buildings’ energy audits indicate that these new measures are working, with 35% of the buildings qualifying as energy-efficient according to industry standards and 41% showing at least of average performance.
Green Supers training is not only making great improvements in buildings, but in the lives and careers of superintendents. Last week, at a panel discussion hosted by 32BJ SEIU and Urban Green, Green Supers: The Critical Role Of Energy Efficiency Training, we heard directly from two Resident Managers on the panel, Victor Nazario, (The Whitney, 311 East 38th Street) and Marat Olfir (The Future Condominiums, 200 East 32nd Street).
For Victor, the course changed his perspective on his job and made him aware of how our health is connected to our buildings. “It was no longer just a job but part of an overarching goal to make things better and part of my personal legacy” he said.
Marat had a similar experience, beginning to see the potential in each building. It also helped his career, “Being a Green Super helped me get better jobs in good buildings.”
Bottom line: Building efficiency training provides supers with practical skills that can cut building energy use by up to 20%, while reinforcing the value of their work.
Can you imagine how much greener our buildings could be if all building operations and maintenance teams received this training?
Stay tuned for more good news now that GPRO O&M is available for managers!
The video recording of last week’s “Green Supers” event is now available here.
© 2013 GPRO.