"Think NECA” will be a highly visible theme when America’s leading power system, lighting and cabling exposition is held in San Francisco next month. It is intended to encourage industry participants to look to our association for training, education and networking.

However, NECA also wants to encourage electrical contractors to think in color. Specifically, in healthy shades of green.

For the first time ever at the NECA Show, an entire day of seminars and an entire section of the vast exhibit area will put attendees in touch with experts and key players in the wind, solar and renewable energy industries. While this focus may seem new, it didn’t sprout up overnight.

The seeds were planted long ago, as early as the 1960s. But, now we have a new sense of urgency concerning global resource depletion. The good thing is it’s balanced with new confidence, as technology catches up with the imperative that buildings function well in terms of resource use and energy conservation. That was the gist of an article in the July issue of this magazine, and NECA certainly is not the only one saying it.

A just-released McGraw-Hill report on “The Greening of Corporate America” finds that one in four companies anticipate more governmental mandates for green building standards and one in three now view sustainable construction as mainstream. They have good reason to think that way since 11 federal green initiatives relating to construction procurement now are in effect, and 22 states and 75 local governments have thus far adopted initiatives requiring contractors to build to green standards.

A couple of other impressive numbers: This summer, the U.S. Conference of Mayors—more than 1,100 of them—unanimously adopted a resolution for community schools to be built green. Around the same time, the U.S. Green Building Council welcomed its 10,000th member company. Council members are builders, designers, legislators, policymakers, educators, manufacturers, developers, activists and scientists. Finally, the McGraw-Hill report says the green building industry, which scarcely existed just a decade ago, now is worth more than $12 billion and is growing exponentially every year.

NECA has been cultivating the green building market for some time, with the fruits of our efforts most apparent in the fields of training, education and research.

For example, the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for the Electrical Industry (NJATC), which NECA and IBEW jointly sponsor, just announced the publication of a groundbreaking work, “Photovoltaic Systems”—the first and only comprehensive guide to the installation of commercial and residential solar energy systems. NJATC has been training journeymen in the design and installation of solar energy systems for more than a decade.

And, ELECTRI International, NECA’s research affiliate, is spearheading a number of activities in this regard. One of these, which is documented in this magazine (on page 309), includes providing a significant research grant to a student team at Pennsylvania State University to design and construct a demonstration solar home as part of the Energy Department’s Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in October.

However, in light of the fact that foundation research often leads to the development of NECA management education courses, more immediate results may be obtained from an ELECTRI International project on “Emerging Green Markets: The Role of the Electrical Contractor on Green Building Projects.” NECA conventioneers will be the first to learn about key findings and strategies for green business growth.

But, you can be sure it won’t be the final word on this subject. Green is here to stay. And so is NECA’s involvement in this important market.

Milner Irvin

President, NECA