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A Collaborative Effort

We all live, work, play, learn and heal in buildings…and pray and dance and, well, you get the idea.

We also govern in buildings, and NY State government has been working very hard since 2001 to green state operations.

There are several executive orders from the Governor’s office requiring green purchasing, reduction of energy use, and sustainability planning. Laws are now hitting the books requiring state buildings to report on water use, air quality and energy efficiency measures and improvements.

What is the key element of support for all of this work?  Training through GPRO!!

The NY Upstate Chapter, as a GPRO delivery partner was able to look for the perfect win/win/win scenario for a large GPRO roll-out in Upstate NY.

We developed an approach with NSYERDA and Urban Green to roll out this training, in FUND and O+M modules, to state staff, primarily Sustainability Coordinators designated under Executive Order #4, and Facility Managers in state owned buildings.  How could that be any better?  We help NYS meet their greener goals, develop a ground swell of interest in the GPRO courses and use workforce development money to make sure this training is zero cost for these agencies and authorities. That last part was imperative as most state entities have a freeze on training expenditures.

We reached out specifically through our Sustainability Coordinators list serve and Green Bulletins e-mail list.  These staff members are employees responsible for sustainability planning in their respective state entities, and also for reporting each year under EO#4, which calls for waste reductions, paper use reductions and green procurement.

Oliver Holmes is the NY Upstate Chapter GPRO coordinator, and he, with the assistance of the Chapter’s ED, Tracie Hall, found the trainers and helped the state contacts to plan dates and the needed venue amenities. Urban Green as always was pivotal in adjusting costs and contracts, and providing support for the course delivery.  Heather Saunders and Ryan Moore of NYSERDA, Kathy Macri of the Environmental Facilities Corp as well as myself from DASNY all worked together to access NYSERDA funding and reduce costs of GPRO delivery on the part of the NY Upstate Chapter and Urban Green. Oliver and I (and others) were some of the GPRO instructors for this roll-out.

Every one of the “partners” in this work gave a little to gain so much more!

The last class occurred on September 19th, with the goal of reaching those trainees and completing all the follow-up paperwork in order to obtain the NYSERDA funding before it disappeared on September 3oth. Phew.

In total we trained 28 Sustainability Coordinators and 88 facility managers.  Every single one of these people works for New York State government and has direct effect on their operations of their building(s) or on the sustainability planning for their agency or authority.  Imagine the ripple effect on this series of trainings! The goals of Governor Cuomo for energy efficiency and sustainable planning for operations have a solid chance of success and ongoing acceleration in achievement because of these trained state employees.

As for follow-up, always important in growing any program, we provided surveys before and after the training to gage abilities of trainers, appropriateness of the content and structure of the courses, etc.  Feedback was great on all of these items.  A few people felt the material was a bit below their capabilities but applicable to their work, and a few thought it was way above their abilities but applicable to their work.

The vast majority stated that the tips and resources and basic approaches to greening the operation of state buildings will help them to do their work better and improve energy efficiency, health and quality of their facilities. Success!

We should continue this follow-up and self-improvement by reaching out to the GPRO certified folks in a few months and ask them, via phone, how and if they have applied their knowledge.  In the implementation I am sure we would gain much input about the value of this training.

Lessons learned – State facilities tend to have security measures in place and are often controlled under strict parameters related to union agreements.

Our biggest issues related to getting into the building and having the services we needed when we needed them.  Always have a go-to name and contact number in the building, and confirm the times you can get in and must get out.

Our other biggest issue was in the registration process and the fact that this course was offered for free to these state staff.  When something is free people sign up, then don’t show up because something else came up and it’s no big deal to ditch – they haven’t lost anything.  Well, we lost something every time there was a no show.  These courses have value and require commitment and that needs to be clearly stated even if a contract is formed for free delivery to the attendees.

In summary, this GPRO roll-out was successful for the NY Upstate Chapter, for NY State government and for the trainees.  It took collaboration between the state and our nfp Chapters, along with the support of trainers from the public sector to pull it off.

There is such a thing as a win/win/win situation, but only through dedication of the team, and we had that in full measure!

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