With California taking the lead in the U.S.’s transition to a sustainable energy future, forward-thinking organizations, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 (IBEW Local 11) and Los Angeles Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (LA/NECA), are taking a central leadership role. At the center of this change is the IBEW Local 11 and LA/NECA Net Zero Plus initiative, which is transforming existing and new buildings to become high-performance and net-zero-energy buildings, meaning they can produce more energy than they consume.California has mandated that all new residential construction must be built to net-zero-energy standards by 2020 and commercial buildings must be built to net-zero-energy standards by 2030. To help building trades, municipalities, electricians and contractors prepare for these changes, IBEW Local 11 and LA/NECA decided to retrofit their electrical training institute to be an advanced net-zero-energy building. The partnership assembled a project team comprised of leading contractors and consultants to transform the 1960s-built industrial space into a vision of the future of net-zero-energy building. The 144,000-square-foot retrofitted center will serve as a living lab, demonstration center and state-of-the-art training institute.
The Net Zero Plus Electrical Training Institute, or NZP ETI, is a unique building that demonstrates emerging and advanced energy technologies and energy-efficient design strategies including a microgrid, battery energy storage, and advanced energy-management systems and controls. The NZP ETI also serves as a training center for the next generation of electrical workers and contractors who will design, install and maintain complex energy generation, storage, management and evaluation systems. The NZP ETI also provides continuing education for journey-level electricians and electrical contractors about new technologies and developments in the industry.
Those trained at the NZP ETI are not the electricians and contractors of yesterday but tradesmen learning advanced energy systems and proven industry best practices. Through a mix of classroom, hands-on lab and job-site training, NZP ETI energy specialists are prepared to help customers reduce energy costs, realize new and greater revenue streams, invest in energy independence and achieve sustainability goals.
Maximizing Energy Efficiency
The project team started by creating a highly efficient building envelope that maintains a moderate, comfortable temperature in the building without the extensive use of heating and cooling systems.To reduce heat gains from sunny days in Los Angeles, a new cool roof was installed that incorporates layers of high-performance insulation and a light-colored exterior roofing material with a high solar-reflective index value.
Originally designed as an industrial warehouse, the NZP ETI had numerous roll-up loading doors, including in the main entrance lobby. These were typically open for up to 12 hours per day to accommodate the ow of students during daytime and night-time classes. To reduce the loss of interior air, many of the roll-up doors were closed in the training areas, and the main entrance now features an automatic telescoping door.
The southeastern facade of the NZP ETI features extensive windows that receive ample sunlight throughout the day. Some of these windows were replaced with electrochromic glass, which tints automatically when sunlight exposure is highest to block heat gain while admitting daylight.An aluminum solar screen was installed for the remaining windows along the southeastern front where the NZP ETI’s office space is located. The solar screen wall ensures natural light enters the building while protecting against heat gains.
To maximize the efficiencies created by the new building envelope, significant upgrades to the HVAC system were made, including replacement of all gas-fired equipment with electric equipment, as well as the installation of new large, high-performance ceiling fans; a central chiller plant; boiler; air-handling unit; and variable frequency drives on motors.
All lighting at the NZP ETI was upgraded to the newest generation of LEDs with an advanced lighting-control system. This system automatically adjusts light levels based on occupancy patterns, available daylight, demand-response signals from the utility, the energy-management needs of the building as a whole or all these factors. This system helps reduce energy waste during long hours of vacancy or when daylight is plentiful.