The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters trains its labor force to be productive and efficient. And within our expansive scope of crafts and responsibilities is a commitment to environmental sustainability. We are increasingly building an environmentally responsible culture within our membership and contractor partnerships, and raising the bar for "green" construction. Whether it is a residential home or a high-rise building, the carpenter working on that job will have the knowledge to construct the building using the latest and greatest products, tools and techniques in the sustainable construction industry. To us, "green" means protecting the environment and our customers' wallets.
We are currently in a period of energy efficiency, alternative energy creation and environmentally friendly initiatives that is not going to go away. The oil embargo of the early 1970s started the original green movement but as prices cheapened, people returned to their old ways of energy indulgence. Today's energy crisis will not be fading away like it did in the ‘70s.
Our contractors employ Certified Building Envelope Specialists who are capable of fixing the home's existing problems and Certified Air-Sealing Installers who are trained to seal up the leaking areas in the home using industry-accepted materials. We train these Certified Energy Analysts (CEAs) to go into homes and conduct energy audits to inform homeowners where they are wasting energy and losing money by having an energy-inefficient home. They are capable of making the building envelope tighter so that the energy used by homeowners to heat and cool their homes doesn't escape. A properly sealed, energy-efficient home makes for a comfortable home...and a comforted wallet. If the majority of U.S. homeowners and building owners were to put their structures through energy exams and sealing enhancements, the load placed on the energy companies to produce their energy through coal or nuclear power plants would drop dramatically.
Union carpenters are also involved with wind turbine generators and solar panels. Wind farms are increasingly appearing across the country's landscape as the harm to the environment caused by fossil fuels as an energy source is being understood. Wind farms supply electricity by harvesting the one natural resource of which Illinois has plenty: wind. In the '20s, rural residents didn't have an option to hook into the power grid and have electrical appliances. In the '30s, windmills would turn the primitive generators to produce power needed for a home's lighting and possibly the radio if it had one.
Green building also emphasizes the need for conserving building materials. As an industry we are using more materials that are engineered from waste that would have gone directly to a landfill just a few decades ago. Our carpenters know how to install these new products properly, efficiently and safely. Building with more recycled content uses fewer natural resources. This in turn is eliminating a lot of waste that otherwise would be targeted for overflowing landfills. Along with using green materials, more of our contractors are building and retrofitting existing structures to be more energy efficient. All buildings that are receiving federal money are required to be built and certified under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Properly installing energy-efficient windows...tightening the building envelope to prevent air leakage...installing caulks and adhesives with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and that last longer than traditional materials...conserving materials used in construction.... This green-building program requires the carpenter to perform this work to improve the building's chances for certification. Our members are about green building so that they are capable of performing the tasks that are required to earn the credits needed for the building to be certified.
The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters invites you to review the Building a Sustainable Future section of our website. See what we've done and what we're doing, from the training and industry certifications to the sustainability partnerships and green construction projects. We welcome the opportunity to work with you!
Contact: Vince Sticca, Director, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprentice & Training: 847-640-7373; Craig Triplett, Instructor, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Apprentice & Training, Building Performance Institute (BPI) Analyst & Proctor: 847-640-7373; or Anthony Janowski, LEED AP, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Director of Sustainability: 847-439-7293
George Tuhowski is ex-officio of the Illinois Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and General Superintendent & Director of Sustainability, LEED AP at Leopardo Companies. He delivered his speech on October 14, 2010, during the dedication ceremony of the LEED-certified Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters' Apprentice and Training Center Rockford campus, stressing the importance of sustainability in today's world, specifically the construction industry and the impact on the environment. Among his many notable points:
In 1992, a group of compassionate, dedicated individuals looked at the construction industry and its impact on the environment, and asked how it can be changed for the better. The mission was to "transform how we design, build and operate buildings."
Over time, this initiative has gained tremendous momentum, "but that momentum didn't come without education, though. Education and training. And this is where my hat really goes off to the CRCC (Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters) for recognizing that, and knowing that it's not just the designers who design wonderful high-efficiency, high-performance buildings, but it's the practitioners...it's those men and women who put that hammer to the nail...who put the forms to the concrete, they're the ones who really need to make the difference, and they're the ones who really need that education...."
"Sustainability is not an option, it's a mandate. It's not the old paradigm...the model, 'Give me the biggest for the most'; it's give me the best for what I have."
Jamie Peters, Program Manager for Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), is leading development of Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (IHPwES)—a new statewide, market-based home energy upgrade program that will be launching in coordination with Illinois' State Energy Office and major utilities.
"The Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters has been an important partner in the development of IHPwES and will be providing Building Performance Institute (BPI) training for its members on behalf of the program this spring," said Peters. "A well-trained workforce is vital to completing the building-science-based home renovations that are at the core of IHPwES!"
As depicted in this video, Ms. Peters is passionate about protecting the environment, reducing carbon emissions and saving energy...which as an added bonus can mean significant cost savings for consumers.