GPRO Hits the Road



Hello from Ann Arbor, Michigan! 

Solar Troubleshooting SystemWe officially launched GPRO Mechanical at the United Association’s 61st Annual Instructor Training Program, teaching 50 UA Plumbing, Fitting and HVACR instructors across North America how to construct and maintain high-performing mechanical systems and to balance resource efficiency with occupant comfort. These experienced professionals will share their new knowledge about green construction practices with the next generation of builders at their locals. 

Years in the making, this GPRO module was completed thanks to the dedication of environmentally-minded members of UA Local 1 Plumbers in New York City, UA Local 787 in Toronto, and the UA International Training Fund. 

A culture of learning, mentoring and achievement was present throughout the UA Instructor Training Program, as well as at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) National Training Institute where we taught at the end of July. 

Over the course of five years, graduates of both programs attend annual week-long trainings to learn techniques for teaching apprentices and journeyworkers at their locals more effectively.

Solar Training
John Sullivan (in green), one of the lead instructors from UA Local 1 Plumbers in NYC, teaching Solar Thermal instructors how to use the Solar Thermal Troubleshooting panel at their own locals to improve training.

A highlight of the week is the UA Apprenticeship Contest. All UA apprentices spend many hours per week taking courses while working full time learning the trade. For the contest, each local sends its most skilled apprentice to compete in regional and district apprenticeship contests, culminating in an international competition between the top six apprentices from the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Each competitor is provided a set of plans, materials, and tools, and tasked with constructing a working system. They are then evaluated in a number of skill sets specific to their trade based on proper technique, safety and craftsmanship.

Apprentice Training
Tyler Radkowski from Local 787 in Toronto, Canada, winner in the HVACR Apprentice Contest, working on this year’s Air Conditioning project.  

The UA and the IBEW’s embrace of GPRO in their training programs is a huge step forward for the green building industry. Mechanical, plumbing, and electrical professionals have the biggest impact on buildings’ energy and water efficiency. Until recently, however, the majority of green training programs focused only on teaching architects and engineers how to design higher performing buildings. Now GPRO has filled a critical gap by teaching contractors, building trades and operators the green practices necessary to effectively execute those designs. 

Another of GPRO’s critical functions is to connect skilled tradespeople with their design counterparts at U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) chapters. We believe that creating dialogue by bringing together shared expertise  across the construction industry will speed and smooth its transition to sustainability. 

About the authors

Ellen Honigstock
Ellen is Director of Education Development with Urban Green Council.