From the TUC

President Obama award for US greenworkplace project!

17 Apr 2012, by in Economics, Environment

A greenworkplaces pilot project led by the US communications union IUE-CWA
won a Champions for Change Award for its work in training union members to identify energy efficiencies in manufacturing companies. The White House program highlights examples of citizens who represent President Obama’s vision of out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world through projects that move their communities forward.  IUE-CWA’s work stems from an innovative partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). In a pilot program, front line workers conduct the energy efficiency “Treasure Hunts.” For an average one-off investment of $34,500 in energy saving equipment, the unions “Treasure Hunt” program achieves annual utility bill savings of $97,500  and cut CO2 emissions by 779 metric tonnes annually.

The US project featured at a TUC green workplaces  workshop in Durban during the UN’s climate change conference in Deceember 2011. The union projects involve joint discussions they initiate with management. Union members analyse energy use in the building’s energy systems (heating, lighting) and in production process. They identify waste and come up with solutions to maximize efficiency and minimize resource use.

The work stems from an innovative partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) which worked with IUE-CWA on a pilot program to have front line workers conduct the energy efficiency “Treasure Hunts.” The White House Council on Environmental Quality worked to select individuals for the award who are
leading important efforts to increase the use of renewable energy, driving out
energy waste, greening supply chains, and/or adopt other strategies to improve

“Cutting waste, reducing energy use and operating more sustainably translates to less pollution and lower utility bills for businesses across the country,” said
Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The
leaders we’ve selected as Champions of Change are proving that sustainable
practices work for companies’ bottom lines, and work for the health of American

Companies that have participated in the program include Cobasys in Ohio, CCL Container in Pennsylvania, Sheboygan Paper Box in Wisconsin and CG Power in Missouri. More information on the Treasure Hunts here. Union
President James Clark said: “I believe manufacturing is the backbone of our
economy and our country needs manufacturing to be strong. That’s why as
president of IUE-CWA I’ve made it my mission to bring innovative and
progressive programs to our shop floors – programs that make our plants more
competitive and more efficient.”

IUE-CWA’s focus is not only on green products but on greening the process. As part of that goal, the union entered into the groundbreaking partnership with EDF last
year, the first time EDF has partnered with a trade union.

“Ultimately, IUE-CWA sees this project as a way to catalyze a wider energy-efficiency initiative among the entire labor movement,” Clark said, “which would bring immense environmental benefits and improve the competiveness of  U.S. manufacturing.”

IUE-CWA has 45,000 members at over 300 manufacturing plants across the United States. Clark’s union, which is the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), has not only emerged as a leading advocate for energy
efficiency in manufacturing, but has led a program to involve unions for the
first time in the direct identification and implementation of these opportunities.