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Super Supers: Enlisting Building Workers To Reduce Energy

Because buildings are the largest energy suck in New York, the city is enlisting the people with the most knowledge to help make them more efficient: the superintendents.

Super Supers: Enlisting Building Workers To Reduce Energy

New York City’s buildings consume 66% of the city’s energy and emit 77% of the metropolis’ greenhouse gas emissions, according to “A Blueprint for Greening New York City’s Buildings.” That’s well above the 40% average buildings consume nationwide. Making New York’s built environment more efficient will have an outsized impact, as well as potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs.

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And who better to try those changes than the men and women who actually run the buildings. That’s why New York’s “1,000 Green Supers” program is busy sending property managers to fight on the front lines of energy efficiency and climate change.

The 40-hour class by the cringe-worthy-named 1,000 Green Supers program trains building managers to identify and stop wasted energy, draft an operating plan and perform cost-benefit analysis for building owners and managers, covering topics including renewable technologies, green roofs and water reuse, reports GreenBiz.com. The program is being run by the SEIU Local 32BJ, the largest property services union in the United States, which has 70,000 members in New York alone. It’s funded by a $3 million grant from the Department of Energy.

So far, supers and resident managers from 40 different buildings have completed the pilot program, and the program intends to surpass their 1,000th “super” within the year, ultimately training as many as 2,200 building superintendents. The program is happening as the same time that New York City launches an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its built environment by 30% by 2030.

“We’re all concerned about the environment,” Mike Fishman, president of the 32BJ Service Employees Union, told the news channel NY1. “We’re all concerned about climate change. We’re all concerned about greenhouse emissions, gas emissions. And we wanted to do something about it.”

Some graduates have given it rave reviews. After the DOE Secretary Chu delivered the graduation address for the Green Supers program, Victor Nazario, one of the graduates told the DOE how much the program affected what he does.

“I was always under the impression that these techniques were very expensive. It’s just time, it’s just dedication, and just applying it,” said Nazario. He thinks the coursework on air movement, indoor environmental quality, water and air flow leak detection can ultimately improve the lives of those in his building. “I had no idea it would be this important and have the infusion of joy and energy in my chosen profession.”

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[Image: Flickr user stillframe]

About the author

Michael is a science journalist and co-founder of Publet: a platform to build digital publications that work on every device with analytics that drive the bottom line. He writes for FastCompany, The Economist, Foreign Policy and others on science, economics, and the environment.

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