No profession is impacted more by the changes taking place in the energy sector than electrical contractors and electrical workers. Recognizing the opportunities that this presents, representatives of both groups have teamed up in Los Angeles on a retrofit project that will set a new standard for net zero energy consumption in commercial buildings.

In June, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local No. 11 and the Los Angeles National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) announced the opening of the Net Zero Plus Electric Training Institute (NZP-ETI). The partnership proudly described the new facility as the largest net zero commercial building retrofit in the nation.

The 144,000-square foot facility will serve as a demonstration center, living laboratory and training institute. It will test and showcase such energy efficiency technologies as smart energy-efficiency design, microgrid system integration, energy storage solutions, building resiliency in the wake of natural disasters or grid interruptions, and integrated electrical technologies and controls.

The center will also train and educate 1,500 electrical apprentices, journeymen and contractors in the installation and application of these new technologies every year.

Marvin Kropke, Business Manager of IBEW Local No. 11, praised the IBEW Local No. 11 and LA/NECA for a “pioneering partnership” that enables them “to transform commercial markets by employing the newest electrical technologies and training the most skilled workforce in the U.S.”

NZP-ETI showcases a number of the latest innovative concepts in building energy efficiency, including an exterior solar shading wall, high solar reflective index (SRI) roofing, electrochromatic glass, a utility-scale battery energy storage system, a 500-kilowatt rooftop and parking shade structure photovoltaic solar array, 144,000 square feet of LED lighting, and many others. The benefits of these installations include a projected 51 percent reduction in total electricity usage, average generation of 185,500 kilowatt-hours per year more energy than is consumed, capability of 72 hours of off-grid operation, and drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and in consumption of electricity from lighting, heating and cooling.