East / Regional Reports

Government, Green Industry, and Labor Unions Unite

September 7, 2009
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ISLANDIA, N.Y. - An influential selection of Long Island lawmakers, industrial linchpins, and labor leaders met July 24 to address the Island’s role in a world going green.

The meeting at Wales-Darby Inc.’s Energy Learning Center was the first of the Green Island Coalition, an umbrella of union representatives, corporate powers, and Island-wide policymakers dedicated to public health and cost-effective sustainability.

The coalition said it champions several simple concepts:

• “Greening” is an ecological imperative.

• There are billions of dollars in grants and tax incentives available for environmentally friendly construction projects that the region’s residential and commercial property owners should pounce on.

• When they do, the jobs they create must go to Long Islanders.

Jo Keirns, executive director of the Washington-based Green Mechanical Council, endorsed the coalition. It was also supported by Green Synergy Systems; Matt Ferber, Angelo D’alessandro, and Joe Morganti; Islip supervisor Phil Nolan; Long Island Islip McArthur Airport commissioner Teresa Rizzuto, and several labor union principals, including Frank Pelligrino, Mario Mattera, and Art Gibson of UA Plumbers Local 200; and Don Fiore of IBEW Local 25.

“There’s a small window of opportunity here,” Ferber noted. “There will never be a time like this again. This is the time to show the homeowner and the property managers and the builders that going green is the most affordable way to reduce your energy bills by up to 70 percent.”

Keirns noted similarities between the coalition’s mission and the work of the Green Mechanical Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the education and promotion of environmentally sound residential and commercial mechanical systems.

“With all facets of the industry working together, government officials, union members, educators, nonprofits and manufacturers, etc., we can educate and train a larger green workforce, along with generating green job opportunities and ensuring sustainable, energy efficient buildings,” Keirns stated. “Working as a team, we can also keep costs for the construction, along with operating and maintaining the facility to a minimum.”

Other projects topping the Coalition’s to-do list include the Heartland Town Center residential/commercial development on the former grounds of the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital, and several projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

A second meeting is planned for the late fall.

Publication date: 09/07/2009

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