Union Leader Says Greening Buildings Key to a Green Economy

Jul 20, 2009, 12:55 ET from SEIU Local 32BJ

- Lawmakers, Real Estate Industry Told Training Needed -

NEW YORK, July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures' (NCSL) Summit on "Green Jobs," 32BJ SEIU President Mike Fishman called on lawmakers around the country to prioritize buildings in their green strategies because buildings account for 60% of the country's total energy consumption and generate 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions.

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"The real estate industry should take the lead in reducing carbon emissions and conserving energy," said Mike Fishman. "Passing strong Green legislation that mandates such reductions will make our cities cleaner and our environment safer."

In his presentation, Fishman emphasized the need for training and apprenticeship programs to ensure that building service workers can run their buildings more efficiently by saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also stressed the need to create pathways out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

"The new green workforce is going to come out of retraining," said Fishman. "Training is the best way to ensure that our buildings are more efficient and building workers have the skills they need to do the job. Just as importantly, newly created green jobs must pay livable wages."

32BJ's Thomas Shortman Training Fund has launched an innovative and ambitious green building initiative, called "One Year, One Thousand Supers," to train superintendents, resident managers and porters to become energy efficient building operators certified by the U.S. Green Building Council and the Building Performance Institute. Building workers learn how to reduce water usage, improve heating and air conditioning performance and reduce overall energy use within common areas of the building. The first class of building service workers in the program is set to graduate this month.

With more than 110,000 members in eight states and the District of Columbia, 32BJ http://www.seiu32bj.org/ is the largest property services union in the country.