SAN LEANDRO—The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 595 has commissioned the first-of-its-kind facility to train the next generation of electricians for careers in clean energy.
The Zero Net Energy Center is scheduled to open in early 2013, 17 years before California’s 2030 requirement that all new commercial buildings be Zero Net Energy—only consuming as much energy as they create over a 12-month period.
The electrical trade group, whose 2,000 members in Northern California include PG&E union employees, hosted a ceremony Tuesday (Oct. 16) to announce details of the facility in this Alameda County city.
The IBEW Local 595 is partnering with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to retrofit an existing, vacant commercial building. They’re redesigning the building’s systems, including lighting controls and other advanced-technology systems, to reduce current energy usage in the building by 75 percent. It will use green technologies including wind turbines, solar voltaic roof panels, a solar tracking tree and ventilating roof monitors.
“We’re leading by example by taking an existing, energy consuming, commercial building and turning it into a Zero Net Energy Center,” said Byron Benton, training director for IBEW/NECA at the Zero Net Energy Center. “Today, we’re celebrating by showing off the clean technology that will define the industry in the coming years and alter the skill set necessary to compete in the electrical trade.”
Among the invited speakers at the ceremony was Charles Segerstrom, who manages PG&E’s energy centers in San Francisco, San Ramon and Stockton.
“The special attributes of this building are the integration of energy efficiency, renewables and demand response,” Segerstrom said. “It’s taking a systems approach—not lightbulb by lightbulb but a complete systems approach—to getting this right. And that’s because we need to put together the best minds and the best systems thinking.”
Classes will begin through an apprentice program with nearby Chabot College.