Brian Wennersten, LEED AP+, GPRO:CM is an Instructor and Principal of SKYed Eco Education & Consulting, and a certified GPRO Instructor. Tom Chartier, a 32BJ 1,000 Green Supers instructor, was interviewed for this story.
New York City’s building service workers have been incorporating green building and maintenance practices into residential and commercial building projects, area theaters and stadiums since at least 2005. It was then that the joint labor-management Thomas Shortman Training Fund secured funds to incorporate these practices into their curriculum. The fund was originally created to provide continuing education for building service professionals who are members of SEIU Local 32BJ, the largest property services workers union in the country. In 2009, the program evolved into the 1,000 Green Supers. The goal? Train 1,000 superintendents in one year and further their positive environmental impact on New York City buildings.
During the development stage, Urban Green Council worked closely with 32BJ to incorporate their GPRO certificate program into the 1,000 Supers curriculum. Earlier this year, GPRO’s Fundamentals of Building Green and Operations and Maintenance Essentials courses were adopted as key components of the 40-hour training. By participating in the courses and passing a multiple-choice exam, students earn the GPRO: O&M certificate. “Having incorporated GPRO into the 1,000 Supers curriculum, our students now leave with two credentials in lieu of the one BPI certification originally included. Also, the 1,000 Supers original focus was mainly on NYC issues; by incorporating GPRO, the bigger picture of climate change has been expanded upon,” said Tom Chartier, 32BJ 1,000 Supers Instructor.
In January 2010, the U.S. Labor Department granted almost $3 million to 32BJ’s Thomas Shortman Fund through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The renewed funding has expanded classroom training to reach an additional 1,000 supers enrolled in the program. This past May, hundreds of NYC superintendents celebrated at their graduation with keynote speaker Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy. This first wave of graduates is only the beginning of 1,000 Green Supers’ success story.
32BJ’s education outreach isn’t confined to the classroom either – their 1,000 Supers website is a comprehensive resource for maintenance professionals. In addition to weekly, in-depth interviews with NYC supers, they’ve been rolling out their online series of “1,000 Green Supers How-To” videos that demonstrate step-by-step how to save on a building’s energy and associated costs. The best part about these no- to low-cost techniques is that many pay for themselves in a relatively short period. “We’ve visited buildings of students that have taken the 1,000 Supers course, and we’ll see new lighting controls installed (usually timers or motion sensors), CFL’s [replacing old incandescent bulbs], and portable carbon monoxide detectors in the [Super’s] office,” said Chartier.
Already, 32BJ students and GPRO certificate holders are having a positive impact on reducing resource consumption and occupant health in New York’s buildings. Chartier noted that “students leave the course with a sense that they now have knowledge that will help them immediately in their day-to-day operations, and most feel that the credentials will be essential in their careers down the road.” GPRO is proud to be a part of 32BJ’s 1,000 Green Supers as the construction and maintenance trades establish their importance in the world of green building.