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Construction work at our new National Office building at 1375 St. Laurent Boulevard in Ottawa is nearing completion. Although we have not yet established a firm occupancy date with the general contractor, we anticipate receiving the keys before the end of October and moving in early November. This is three months later than originally scheduled, and six weeks later than I reported in June. The general contractor experienced delays for a number of reasons, including a series of construction union strikes in the spring, and problems with availability and performance of some sub-trades.

In order to move on our scheduled November dates, we will also be taking possession only of the five-storey office tower. The conference suite wing is proceeding more slowly and should be completed around December 1st.

Needless to say, moving our entire national headquarters, and consolidating staff from three locations into one, is a daunting job that has required extremely careful planning and coordination. We have timed the transition process so that there will be the absolute minimum in disruption of services for members and staff. We anticipate closing the office for only one work day (November 9) as a result of the move. In addition, we have arranged for there to be no disruption at all in national email service during the transition, so staff across the country can still rely on email and Blackberry service throughout the relocation of the National Office servers.

I have spoken a great deal over the last year about the environmental initiatives we have taken with the building of our new national office. Our national office will achieve a “LEED” certification meaning it is recognized as among the top in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is recognized by the Canada Green Building Council. It includes a garden with a rainwater pond, sustainable green space and news conference, media theatre and video conferencing facilities. In our operations, we have environmentally friendly washroom facilities, using less water, the latest in power and heating technology and an ongoing green housekeeping plan using safe products and practices. For example, we will be equipped with occupancy sensors, operable windows, energy efficient lighting and use of daylight for lighting, heat recovery ventilators, low flow sink faucets, dual flush toilets and a green education program. Our new national office allows us to truly live up to our values.

I know all CUPE members and staff will be very proud of their union’s new national headquarters, and I hope that as many as possible are able to visit in the future. In the meantime, we will have an information booth on the new building, detailing the environmental innovations and accommodation for staff and members. Please make sure you drop by the Gallery at National Convention and take pride in our “new CUPE home”.