New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



The Greening of Supers

The nonprofit Urban Green Council is dedicated to helping co-op and condo boards make their buildings more energy-efficient, environment-friendly, and economical. One tool is the council’s educational program for supers called Green Professional Training, or GPRO.

“We teach supers to think of a building as a whole,” says Ellen Honigstock, director of education at the Urban Green Council. “For the best performance, all the systems have to work together. You might fix one problem, and you have to know how it affects the other systems. Only when you look how things are connected will you get the best results and the most savings.” GPRO works hand in hand with the Service Employees International Union’s Local 32BJ, which offers classes for supers, as does the city’s new NYC Building Operator Training Program. The 11-week 32BJ training program, which is open to all union members, is not confined to the classroom. “We do a walk-through in multifamily buildings,” says Robert Muldoon, assistant manager for Green Building Training at 32BJ. “We look at mechanical systems, take a look at common areas, vacant apartments, and the exterior of the building.”

The main subjects covered by GPRO, 32BJ and the Building Operator Training Program include building-performance metrics, water and energy usage, the functioning of the building envelope, heat transfer, air barrier integrity, condensation control, sustainability in heating and cooling, efficiency and energy benchmarking, lighting, indoor air quality, interior retrofitting and renovation, and dealing with waste.

“And at the end of the class we have them come up with a green plan for their specific building,” says Muldoon. “They will list the top four things they would do to improve their building, and how to best implement them.”

Continuing education is one of the free benefits for union members, based on their contracts. Non-union supers and building managers can take classes with GPRO at an average of about $275. The free Building Operator Training Program is open not only to supers, but also to property managers, building owners, and board members.

The supers themselves become more valued employees. “Supers earn certifications which are recognized by the industry,” says Muldoon. “It makes them more competitive when applying for a superintendent’s job.”

“In the end, it’s about an overall better performance of the building,” says GPRO’s Honigstock. “It makes the building a better place to live.”




(a-BATE-ment) An abatement – from the Old French abbatre, to beat down – is a lessening or reduction in amount, degree, or force. For New York City co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners, the 17.5 percent abatement they receive on their annual property tax bill – provided the apartment is their primary residence (see page 28) – is an attempt to bring co-op and condo taxes in line with the lower taxes paid by owners of one-, two-, and three-family homes.

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