The new GPRO Operations & Maintenance Essentials is all about creating actionable and realistic goals to improve building efficiency. While all buildings are different—whether it be size, use, age, or budget—certain topics addressed in class can apply to many. We explored some of those real-life applications with GPRO O&M Certificate Holder Jose Barrera, who was trained through the 32BJ Training Fund last year.
With ten years’ experience as a porter and doorman, Barrera recently took on the role as super of two small New York City residential buildings. Working with his supervisor, he has made sustainable building practices a key part of his everyday work, from low-cost changes to planning for large-scale, longer-term green fixes. Inspired by GPRO, Barrera has a number of recommendations, from easy to more complex (and costly):
Clear communication is the cornerstone of all problem-solving. GPRO O&M discusses the challenge of changing behaviors. With good tenant relationships, you can better identify problems and give residents an effective means to foster a more sustainable community. Barrera says that giving concise, useful tips to tenants goes a long way to build trust and open lines of communication.
For example, many residents didn’t realize that the circular knob on a steam radiator is simply an on-off switch and that it does not regulate temperature. When the valve is opened halfway, it can cause clanking noises, discomfort, and, in some cases, even leaks. When Barrera shared this tip with residents, they were appreciative to get clear answers about their issue.
Make the switch from incandescent to LED lighting when it’s time to replace fixtures. Per Barrera, this low-cost item is also easy to implement and results in a high-performance upgrade to his buildings.
On a site visit during class, Barrera was inspired by some of the water management techniques used in other buildings’ green roofs, which also help to moderate building temperature, and rainwater harvesting to conserve water.
Exploring renewable energy options to reduce electricity costs. While not currently feasible, Barrera mentioned that he’d like to one day help oversee rooftop solar panel implementation.
When the boiler needs to be replaced, making sure the new boiler is sized right for the space and is switched from oil to a more efficient natural gas system. Hot and cold calls have been the number one tenant complaint in Barrera’s buildings this past winter. More efficient heating not only reduces costs but increases occupant comfort.