New York’s Urban Green Council announced they have reached an agreement for sustainability training with the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia (UA).
The UA is the leading international trade union for plumbers, pipefitters, sprinkler fitters and HVACR technicians. As part of the agreement, UA members will receive training in sustainable practices as part of Urban Green Council’s Green Professional Building Skills Training program, known as GPRO. Next year the Building Trades Academy of AFL-CIO will begin rolling out GPRO to several other building trade unions.
“This is a significant opportunity for UA members to continue to lead the way in sustainability,” said Russell Unger, Executive Director of Urban Green Council. “By increasing energy and water efficiency and using green practices to perform all the fieldwork that goes into making buildings more sustainable, UA members will be key to helping the industry transition to a more sustainable future.”
The United Association’s participation in GPRO is the result of an unprecedented agreement between a national labor union and an environmental organization, according to the council. Both organizations say they view this collaboration as an important step as green building becomes the national norm.
Plumbers and pipefitters are critical to achieving green buildings. Plumbers contribute directly to a building’s ability to conserve water; as water use is reduced, there are also significant energy savings as heating, treatment, and pumping needs are also reduced. Pipefitters save energy in buildings by making heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems work as efficiently as possible while ensuring healthy indoor environments.
In 2007, Urban Green recognized a need to teach the principles of sustainability to workers who build, renovate and operate buildings. With the help of UA Plumbers Local 1 in New York City, they developed GPRO Plumbing to teach plumbers how their direct actions can affect sustainability.
“We’re seeing how sustainability is rapidly becoming a necessity in all types of buildings. GPRO training will give our members a competitive edge as our trade evolves,” said William P. Hite, General President of the United Association.
New technology such as condensing boilers, solar thermal systems, on-site greywater and blackwater recycling systems, high-efficiency fixtures and other energy recovery technologies have created a new need for building retrofits. The GPRO Plumbing training will give members a distinct edge in this emerging market.
“The day after the GPRO Fundamentals class, when I went back to my job at One World Trade Center, I looked around and was able to understand so much more about what was being built and why I was being asked to change the way we worked. I also noticed how other trades were contributing to the green building design,” said Carl Gambino, Journeyman Plumber and Instructor, UA Local 1 NYC Plumbers Union.
Taught by industry experts, GPRO provides comprehensive training as well as a certificate upon completion of the program. Contractors who have GPRO Certificate Holders on site will be able to earn a LEED credit for their project.