Bill Aristovulos knows exactly how he got his passion for conservation.
“There’s comedians who say, ‘You sound like your parents,’” he said. “Well, I certainly do.”
Aristovulos is a superintendent at an apartment building on Greenwich Avenue in the Village, where he’s worked since 1991. The self-described tree hugger says that he learned his first lesson in conservation when he was just a kid. His mother, a nurse who emigrated from Greece when he was 7 years old, saved on the cost of heating bills by keeping the temperature low.
“I would say I was cold, and she would say, ‘Put a sweater on,’” said Aristovulos while sitting in his building’s workout room. The black matting on the floor is his design—soft pieces of rubber that interlock to make a whole, like an oversized puzzle. Tires salvaged from landfills were melted down to form the material.
Today, Aristovulos is 60 and the father of two grown children. And like his mother, he has found creative ways to help the environment. As a superintendent, one of his first priorities was to turn down the heat in the building at night. The move not only saves between $10,000 and $15,000 every year, he estimates, but also significantly reduces the building’s carbon footprint.
Another step he took was to install low-flow toilets, long before the idea took hold in the city. More recently, he installed motion detectors for lights in the building’s garage to save on electrical costs.
“We’re in trouble,” Aristovulos said about the current state of the environment. “We’re truly in trouble, and we’ve got to start thinking about what to do. One of the things we can try is good old-fashioned conservation, like my mother taught me as a kid.”
But 40 hours a week as a superintendent isn’t enough for Aristovulos, who wants to share conservation techniques with as many people as possible. He teaches night courses for the Building Performance Institute, helping other workers make older buildings more environmentally friendly. He also helped develop the curriculum for, and now takes part in, the city’s “1000 Green Superintendents” training program.
It’s that type of motivation that impressed Nick Prigo, a fellow union member.
“The green building classes that he teaches for the training fund are helping our city save energy, reduce costs and clean our environment,” Prigo said.
Aristovulos says that while he never imagined himself an educator, he feels a deep sense of fulfillment when he shares these tips for green maintenance.
“I’m happy teaching. I’m happy being a superintendent. I walk with pride,” he said. “This is my building.”
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