New York City Cultivates Green Building Upgrades Two Ways
NEW YORK, New York, September 29, 2009 (ENS) - New York City's latest effort to turn the Big Apple green aims to train 1,000 building superintendents in the latest energy efficient practices.

The "One Year, One Thousand Green Supers" program was launched Thursday at a Manhattan apartment building by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and representatives of the largest property service workers union in the country, the Service Employees International Union 32BJ, and the city's Realty Advisory Board.

The program is a 40 hour class that provides building service workers with the latest, state-of-the-art practices in energy efficient operations. The curriculum trains workers to identify and address wasted energy, create a green operating plan and perform cost-benefit analysis for building owners and managers.

Buildings at Central Park West and 72nd St. show the range of challenges NYC supers must face. Modern buildings stand next to the Dakota Apts. built in 1884. (Photo by Danny McKiernan)

"By learning how to air seal a building, improve heating and air conditioning performance and reduce overall energy use in a building's common areas, graduates can achieve substantial savings at their buildings," said Linda Nelson, director of the Thomas Shortman Training Fund, a labor management partnership that is funding the program.

One Year, One Thousand Green Supers is approved by the U.S. Green Building Council and the Building Performance Institute. The third and final pilot class of building service workers in the program is set to graduate this week.

"By working together, 32BJ and New York's building owners have put into place a smart, practical and effective way to help make the Big Apple green," said Mayor Bloomberg. "One Year, One Thousand Green Supers provides a low-cost way to make our buildings more energy and cost efficient, and our environment cleaner, all while saving our city millions of dollars."

"With 77 percent of our city's greenhouse gas emissions generated by buildings, we must all work together to protect the environment," said 32BJ President Mike Fishman. "Making the Big Apple green starts with recognizing the vital role of building service workers."

Energy savings from buildings is the lowest-cost method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In addition, greener buildings could save the New York real estate industry as much as $230 million a year in operating expenses.

"This labor-management partnership is uniquely positioned to give tens of thousands of workers the skills they need to cut waste and costs at buildings across the city," said James Berg, president of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents building owners and managers in New York City.

"Investments in green training are investments in our collective future and a win-win for property owners," said Jeffrey Brodsky, president of Related Management, one of the first companies to have employees participate in the program. "Our building staff are the best and the brightest in the industry, and this new training curriculum will go a long way to ensure that we pursue all avenues to reduce our impact on the environment."

"Resident owners will benefit from greener operations by saving tens of thousands of dollars in yearly operating costs at their building," said Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums.

In another effort, Mayor Bloomberg and former Vice President Al Gore Friday launched a buildings service initiative called "NYC Cool Roofs."

This project aims to mobilize volunteers to coat the rooftops of participating buildings with reflective, white coating to reduce cooling costs, energy usage and greenhouse emissions.

Bloomberg and Gore helped NYC Service volunteers coat the rooftop of the Long Island City YMCA in Queens to jumpstart a pilot program through October 9.

During the pilot, teams of volunteers are working to coat 100,000 square feet of rooftop in Long Island City, a neighborhood that endures higher temperatures than the citywide average due to the number of industrial rooftops in the area.

Gore, who founded the Alliance for Climate Protection, said, "I am proud to join Mayor Bloomberg and these dedicated volunteers to kick-off a great program that is going to make a real difference," said Gore. "The threat we face from the climate crisis is unsurpassed and smart policies like installing cool roofs are one way that we are going to meet the challenge."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, shakes hands with former Vice President Al Gore at the Cool Roofs kick-off event. (Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor)

"This is an example of practical action to get with it and start solving the climate crisis," Gore said.

"It's such a simple concept - anyone who has ever gotten dressed in the summer knows it - light-colored surfaces absorb less heat than darker surfaces do," said Mayor Bloomberg.

"Coating rooftops with reflective, white paint can reduce roof temperatures by as much as 60 degrees and indoor temperatures by 10 to 20 degrees," the mayor said. "That means substantial energy savings for the building owner and a big reduction in energy usage and greenhouse emissions."

A cool roof absorbs 80 percent less heat than traditional dark colored roofs and can lower roof temperatures by up to 60 degrees and indoor temperatures by 10 to 20 degrees on hot days.

The decrease in temperature reduces the need for air conditioning, lowering electric bills and reducing energy consumption.

Coating all eligible dark rooftops in New York City could result in up to a one degree reduction of New York City's ambient air temperature a significant and lasting change towards cooling the City.

The cool roofs pilot is being implemented by NYC Service and the Mayor's Office of Operations in partnership with the Community Environmental Center, which will serve as the primary program coordinator, the Long Island City Business Improvement District, and Green City Force.

Nonprofits such as Publicolor are training volunteers for the program, which is funded with private donations.

"Developing volunteer activities that fight climate change at the local level and help create a greener New York City is a top priority for NYC Service," said Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford.

New Yorkers can become NYC Cool Roofs volunteers by visiting or calling 311.

Building owners and homeowners who wish to reduce their energy costs and their carbon footprints, also can visit or call 311 to learn how to coat their own roofs with reflective, white coating.

The NYC Cool Roofs program will help the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, the primary goal of PlaNYC, the Mayor Bloomberg's sustainability plan.

The city's new building code, enacted by the Bloomberg administration in 2008, requires most new roofs built in New York City to have 75 percent of the roof area covered with reflective, white coating or to be Energy Star rated by the federal government as highly reflective.

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.