BY BOB MIODONSKI
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
LOS ANGELES — The Piping Industry Progress and Education Trust Fund provided a $25,000 grant to the Los Angeles chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council during a ceremony Jan. 11 at PIPE's headquarters here.
"This is an exceptional precedent," said Los Angeles City Council member Jan Perry. To her knowledge, she added, "This is the first time that a union has presented a donation to a green advocacy group."
PIPE Executive Director Mike Massey said: "We want to make more than a statement today; we want to take action and prove to the nation that we are an industry you can count on. We want you to know that unions and contractors in the plumbing, piping and HVAC industry are the people who want to, and will do, the 'green' plumbing, piping and HVAC work in this great city and in all of Southern California."
PIPE's donation recognizes USGBC-LA's efforts to promote sustainability and green building in the Los Angeles area, Massey said. PIPE is a USGBC national member and will be recognized as a platinum-level founding sponsor of USGBC-LA.
The Los Angeles chapter plans to produce a paper on best practices in water and energy conservation after studying LEED-certified green buildings in the Los Angeles area. Lance Williams, executive director of USGBC-LA, told CONTRACTOR that the research will begin this year with a report due in 2008. He too cited the historic importance of the partnership of his group with PIPE.
"This is a very exciting event within the construction industry," Williams said. "For a union-based organization such as PIPE to provide direct financial support to USGBC-LA's activities signals that an important new milestone has been passed."
Money aside, PIPE's grant has additional significance, other speakers at the event said.
"We must bring work-force development into the green building initiative," said Lillian Kawasaki, a director of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. "It's not the political challenges and it's not the money. The biggest challenge is the work force to be able to do these jobs."
PIPE's partnership with USGBC-LA demonstrates that "unions are revamping themselves to embrace new technologies," environmentalist Angelina Galiteva said.
"Unions are concerned about more than just a paycheck for workers and their families," said Dave Sickler of the mayor's office. "They're concerned about cutting-edge issues too."
PIPE describes itself as the labor management cooperation committee and trust fund for the unionized plumbing, piping and HVACR industry in Southern California and the vehicle used by union contractors and United Association plumbers and pipefitters to advance the industry.
The USGBC is a coalition of construction industry leaders working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible and healthy places to live and work. USGBC-LA was formed in 2001 and represents engineers, architects, developers, designers and other industry professionals.
The grant comprises: $10,000 from the PIPE Trust Fund; $5,000 from the California Plumbing and Mechanical Contractor s Association; $5,000 from the National Inspection Testing and Certification Corp.; and $5,000 from International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.
IAPMO's Carl Marbery called for "the concerted efforts by all members of the plumbing industry to overcome the political challenges that stand in the way of our success."