ECs LEEDing the Green Revolution:

This Web site has been redesigned and revitalized, and I like it. I like it a lot!

Now, it’s more informative and more fun. It offers news and information exclusive to the site as well as a fuller archive of the magazine’s contents, improved search functions, and such features as a commodity-price ticker (helpful for planning material purchases and stock picks) and an opinion poll on timely topics (helpful for identifying trends).

In fact, the poll question online as I wrote this column alludes to a revolutionary trend. It asks whether more local and state governments should adopt requirements for building to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Ignoring the business-development potential, the majority of the 207 respondents said that such progress should not be mandated by governments.

However, those who voted “Yes, it’s good for the environment and for business” may have statistics on their side. Regardless of which side you’re on, the green building market is growing and LEED is feeding this growth. And, as always, the fruits go to those electrical contractors who prepare themselves to participate in market growth.

Let me explain: The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance, energy-efficient buildings. It promotes a whole-building approach by certifying performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. In the past year, almost half of all public projects built in the United States (48 percent) incorporated energy-efficient designs, and more than 70 percent of these specified LEED standards. As more state and local governments adopt the standards, the percentages can only increase.

But, it’s not only the public sector that’s going green. For example, it was on a private project that NECA-member Guarantee Electrical of St. Louis provided the design/build installation of low-voltage systems and services. This led to the Alberici Corp. achieving the Green Building Council’s highest honor, a LEED Platinum certification, for Alberici’s new headquarters in Missouri.

Regardless of whether they seek LEED certification, more and more owners want efficient, safe and secure buildings that operate at full potential while saving energy. Are you prepared to deliver? It’s more complicated than choosing “environment friendly” materials for installation. As noted by this magazine in an article in December, “Guarantee [Electrical of St. Louis] achieved an extremely efficient electrical system through the use of natural light, daylight harvesting, light pollution reduction, renewable energy and a comprehensive building management system.” Some of us may not even know what all that means.

When the District of Columbia adopted a statute requiring all new, large nonresidential buildings to be built green and all structures of 50,000 square feet or more to comply with LEED standards, the electrical contractors in NECA’s Washington, D.C., chapter led the call for our association to provide more assistance related to this topic. In response, our industry’s independent research affilliate, ELECTRI International, launched a study on “Strategies for Electrical Contractors on LEED and Green Building Projects,” and NECA’s Management Education Institute incorporated the findings into a new course for NECA contractors.

I realize that not all readers of this magazine belong to NECA and so do not have access to MEI programs (though the research report will soon be available industry-wide). However, anyone can go to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Web site at www.usgbc.org for more information.

And, for information tailored specifically to electrical contractors on LEED or just about any other relevant subject, all you need to do is go to that great Web site I mentioned above. After all, making the best use of available resources is what it’s all about.

Milner Irvin
President, NECA