Sustainability Boot Camp's Pilot Program Flies High

As the summer comes to an end, I would like to recognize the 196 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) staff members and nearly 500 building professionals in total who have spent the past few months receiving energy efficiency training at Sustainability Boot Camp. This program, led by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Building Owners and Managers Association of New York, Urban Green Council, and REBNY, with support for NYCHA staff training by NYCHA and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, has resulted in hundreds of building managers, superintendents, operators, and engineers being placed on the front lines of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC 80x50 plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions citywide by 80 percent by 2050.

The Sustainability Boot Camp program kicked off in April, and was very well received by some of the largest commercial and residential owners and managers in New York City. In addition to the participants mentioned above, I would also like to extend my gratitude to the following companies for their eager participation in the pilot program: ATCO Properties and Management, Boston Properties, Brookfield, CBRE, Inc., Cushman & Wakefield, Durst Organization, Edward J. Minskoff Equities, Empire State Realty Trust, Fisher Brothers, Forest City Ratner Companies, Jack Resnick and Sons, Jones Lang LaSalle, Related Companies, Rockefeller Group Development Corporation, Rockrose, Rudin Management, RXR Realty, Silverstein Properties, Tishman Speyer, Trinity Real Estate and Vornado Realty Trust New York. This program and the tremendous good it will do for New York City in the long run would not have been possible without the program’s sponsors, CodeGreen Solutions, ConEdison Solutions, National Grid, NORESCO, and Zones.

The program’s overall purpose is to provide building professionals with critical tools to transition from conventional to green, sustainable building operations. Participants have been trained through the Urban Green Council’s GPRO Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Essentials course, which is taught by industry experts to thousands of building operators and managers across all five boroughs, and has resulted not only in the improvement of the performance of buildings, but also improvements in health and higher tenant satisfaction.

One of the great aspects of the program is its diversity and versatility. It teaches skills that every building professional can use to make their buildings more efficient in some way. This includes how to use building metrics to maintain indoor air quality for improved tenant comfort, reduce water use, manage lighting to minimize energy use while maintaining lighting quality, employ strategies for efficient and cost-effective heating and cooling systems, and reduce waste. Specific examples of these methods to increase efficiency include using “water brooms” to clean sidewalks, as opposed to hosing them down, which has been shown to reduce water consumption by up to 90 percent and takes a fraction of the time. Other examples include employing the use of nighttime setbacks on temperature settings, pipe insulation, and being able to identify patterns in open windows during heating season to allow for more efficient heat distribution.

These skills are among some of the most pivotal when it comes to driving down energy costs, and employing them across a much wider range by training more building professionals throughout the city is already showing results.

In fact, a recent study from Urban Green Council states that between 2010 and 2013, thousands of the biggest buildings in the city have cut emissions by 8 percent and energy use by 6 percent. Specifically, the report studied 3,000 buildings, and found that greenhouse gas emissions had gone down to 3.11 million metric tons from 3.37 – the first significant decrease in roughly 100 years.

Sustainability Boot Camp will only add to these widespread improvements the city is seeing in its emissions and energy use. I would once again like to extend my most sincere thanks to all of those who participated in the pilot program, and I look forward to seeing an even larger pool of new faces next year.