The YMCA is more than just a gym. It’s a community.
Notes, Thought Process, and Potential Areas for Improvement
We met with our contact Pat for the tour of the YMCA. Armed our list of questions, we got a lot of answers and generated many different ideas for where we can make an impact.
Camp Nassau and Chingachgook: TOSS
- Open on Saturday in the afternoon
- Open on Sunday in the afternoon and at night
- Open on Monday nights
- Camp Chingachgook (yes that is the name) and Nassau already do corporate picnics and teambuilding. Abercrombie and Fitch did it one year. These are usually set up as low-key family events. Pat says that the YCMA doesn’t advertise for things like corporate training (and it also appears that they aren’t interested in it). They pretty much have the entire schedule filled for each camp with the occasional time slot.
Sustainability Orientation and Training: KEEP
- Currently orientation is 4 hours long
- Could spend some time on sustainability (Pat thinks 1 hr might be a little much – maybe 30 minutes). Pat likes the idea and believes that parents would love it; this would show stewardship in the community, which is what the YCMA tries to do.
- As for training, Pat says that the best course of action would be to have a sustainability person (job position) in the YCMA. That person gets trained on sustainability and then trains employees and management at the YMCA. Training would be especially good for the childcare staff.
- Maybe the trainer should be a member of the Green Team
- As an idea, sustainability training will have a trickle-down effect. The staff of the YMCA is very young. In general, the younger generation is more “green.” Over the next decade, hiring and natural attrition will lead to a YMCA composed of a more sustainably conscious staff naturally. If supplemented by training, the YCMA will be in a good position, as it would aid sustainability thinking and efforts.
Sustainability Curriculum: MODIFY
- Daycare centers are where the only “teaching” occurs. They have a “creative curriculum” that follows OCFS guidelines (which we need to look up and mention). A 30 min. lesson on sustainability themes could be offered during the afterschool programs, but it’s the kids’ choice whether they go or not.
- There is no daycare at the Guilderland branch.
- Sustainability teaching can be incorporated into summer camp theme weeks (think something like Earth Day).
Green Teams: KEEP
- Green teams should meet after 12pm during the “lull” time that Karen spoke about. People come in before work and then after 3pm. B/n 12 and 3 is a perfect time for the Green team to meet for the facility. As for regional meetings, Pat said that the property and staff have a monthly meeting. The green team could just show up for this meeting each month instead of having a separate meeting. Also, Pat said that sustainability topics could be incorporated into the meetings.
- Green employee of the month seems like a good idea – it’s recognition for personal efforts to sustainability; helps to promote the idea of sustainability throughout the organization.
Benchmarking and Last Year’s ideas
- Pat benchmarks his YMCA against other YMCAs in the district for gas and electricity costs. Electricity is $2.24/ft for the Guilderland YMCA.
- Pat did the paper idea and low flow shower heads from last year. They are currently finalizing the video-conferencing suggestion.
- Pat has not tracked anything implemented from last year. Probably saved about 25% of their paper (~1 million sheets) due to last year’s recommendation.
- “Time of use”/smart meters are being installed in 3 weeks, which will give Pat info on energy consumption. We can suggest metrics for future use since he will have the capability to measure things in 3 weeks.
Solar Panels: KEEP
- A new roof ($400K) is being installed 2-4 years from now. The solar panels should probably be installed at the same time. We should use a tiered approach and mention when to implement each item we recommend.
The Pool Heating and Ventilation Issues
- The primary way of heating the pool is through a gas heater. This means that there is a substantial cost for the gas to run the heater.
- Guilderland YMCA currently uses an HVAC pool pack unit for ventilation. This unit is sold by a limited number of suppliers and is very energy intensive to run. The system uses condensers and large air compressors to dehumidify the air (which is why it requires so much energy). The HVAC unit is used as a supplement to the gas heater. While the HVAC unit is running, it produces a lot of heat, which is transferred to the water somehow. The main purpose of ventilation is to protect the building infrastructure because the high humidity rusts the metal and iron (the ceiling, ventilation system, and pipes). In total, heating the pool and controlling the humidity of the pool area costs $100,000 – $110,000 annually. In addition, the coils for the HVAC unit cost $30K each and only last (5) years or so (I think it was 5 yrs – we have to look it up online and double check).
- Pat has contacted ERSI to install two large fans that will keep the humidity low by taking air from o/s of the building and cycling it into the pool area. This system will not have air compressors, dramatically decreasing the YMCA’s energy bill
- Total YMCA utility bill = $300K/yr. This includes electricity, gas, and delivery costs for each.
- YMCA wants to maintain a humidity level of 65%.
- HVAC unit will need to be replaced in 3-4 years.
- ½ of the YMCAs have software to go w/ the HVAC system
Additional Problem – Open Sand Pit Filtration System
- The polluted air from the system comes out since the system isn’t covered. This air erodes everything in the HVAC room (once again, all the metal and piping).
SUNY Albany’s Going Green Globally (G3) Program is a key element of the overall MBA program, allowing teams of MBA students to work with local businesses to create innovative sustainability strategies and initiatives in an effort to increase savings and decrease costs in a changing economy.
Team InnoVerde was originally engaged by the Capital District YMCA for this purpose.
The calendar was as follows:
- Team formation
- Initial client meeting and tour at YMCA
- Sustainability initiative research and white paper creation
- Follow up meeting at YMCA
- Further research and cost analysis
- Executive presentation of findings and recommendation
In the initial meeting, Team InnoVerde’s goal was to identify the following:
- What (if anything) the YMCA is doing in regard to sustainability
- Who the key stakeholders are and where any resistance lies
- Areas of opportunity
The team used the following questions in the first meeting:
- How do you decide the rates for memberships in each community? Does the money made stay within that community, or is that money shared among all the Capital District YMCA’s?
- Do you offer services outside of the YMCA (building)? If so, does that present any challenges?
- What would you consider the YMCA’s main strengths/weaknesses?
- What is the “Reach out for the Youth” program? Do you lower the cost of the services? How do you determine what to charge, if so?
- Do you feel your services are well publicized? Events, offerings, as well as fund-raisers?
- Is it difficult to find volunteers? Is it challenging to get children/teens interested in joining programs, such as “Student Achievers?”
- Has the recession affected the YMCA? Has membership increased/decreased? Has fundraising become more difficult?
- Can you please elaborate on the rental/ residence offerings?
- Net Assets at year end were: $20,827,950, up $662,553 from last year. What is the average for net assets?
- The Strategic Plan began in 2010. Have all your goals stayed the same? Have there been any changes/edits to those plans? What challenges are you currently facing? What have you achieved?
- Do you have large (corporate) sponsors? If not, have you tried to find some? What strategies did you use and how effective were they?
- Where does the profit go? Who decides what to do with the money? Is the money invested at all, or put back into the company for other projects?
- For paid employees, do they receive fair/average salaries? Benefits? Do you know the economic background of the individuals? Are they mostly from the need-based demographics that you are attempting to reach out to? What incentives (other than pay) do you feel they need/want? What are their concerns?
- As a goal, stronger ties with schools, libraries, etc is mentioned. How do you feel your relationship with them is now? Do you feel they offer mutual support/ referrals to you?
- Do you have relationships with local businesses?
- For those in need, do you have strong enough ties to offer deals/ discounts for services they might be in need of, such as medical/dental, etc.? Do you offer information to those looking for such information? Either where to find help, or how to receive offerings?
- Why do you want to implement the sustainability measures (being that it is not part of your mission, vision, or goals)?
- Who would support a sustainability initiative (person, position in organization)?
- Is your organization involved in any outside activities or groups relating to sustainability?
- Are there any types of incentives or compensation for implementing sustainability measures? (If so, what are the criteria for each? What level of employee is the incentive/compensation for?)
- Do you have any metrics you use to measure achievement toward sustainability goals?
- Do you offer training or education on sustainability issues?
- Have you made any R&D investments for low-carbon products, technologies, or services?
- Are you involved in any emissions-trading programs?
- What actions have you taken to reduce energy, wastes, or resource consumption?
- Of the recommendations from last year’s group, what solutions, if any, have you implemented?
After collecting all of this information from various staff and management members, the team returned to SUNY Albany to begin research.