Green jobs are primarily concerned with two approaches: retrofitting facilities which consist of upgrading the facility so that they use less energy and produce less waste heat, and increasing the efficiency of power generating plants while the country shifts toward renewable energy sources by sustaining efficient practices. Most everyone recognizes that the transition from fossil fuels to renewables will be time consuming and complicated.
But there's one way of going green that many planners and economists overlook: the proper management and upgrading of building heating and cooling systems. Measured in terms of energy savings, and even in going off the power grid, large buildings where the systems are maintained by Local 94 members stand in the forefront of conservation. And the workers in those buildings have every right to claim that they have green jobs.
Let's take a look at just two of the many Local 94 member maintained projects: the chiller plants at New York's Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street, and at Credit Suisse at 11 Madison Avenue. The Hyatt's new plant includes three 700-ton CenTraVac high efficiency chillers, whose output is really impressive. The hotel took a look at the numbers and found that, in June, it used 82,400 kW less of electricity than the year before.
The story at Credit Suisse is similar: the installation of a thermal storage solution in the form of 64 Ice Bank storage units installed to three 800-ton Trane chillers has lowered the building's peak energy usage by 900kW. It's the equivalent of Credit Suisse taking 235 cars off the streets, or planning 320 acres of trees to absorb the carbon dioxide caused by electric usage for one year. There are many other stories that can be told. Now that's what I call being green!
Kuba Brown is the President of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94.