Oct 15

University of Washington Wins Green Energy Challenge

Cheers, whoops of joy, and applause went up at the NECA Student Chapter Summit as the University of Washington student team was announced as winner of the 2013 Green Energy Challenge. Penn State followed with second place, and Iowa State rounded out the finalists in third.

This marks the second first-place win for UW teams. The school came in second place in the 2012 Green Energy Challenge and they were determined to take back the top spot this year.  UW won the first Green Energy Challenge held in their hometown of Seattle at the 2009 NECA Convention, and they have placed among the finalist every year of the competition.

“Obviously, UW is a powerhouse team,” said Russ Alessi, President of ELECTRI International, the competition’s sponsor. “They grasped the concept of the Green Energy Challenge to give students the chance to solve a real-world energy problem, and they have consistently delivered innovative solutions.”

This year’s design challenge required teams to create a comprehensive design and bid package for a parking garage “green energy” retrofit in their communities. Teams had to perform an energy audit of an existing parking facility and specify a lighting efficiency upgrade system and handle installation for new electric vehicle charging stations. Teams had to calculate ROI for update investments.

The real challenge came with integrating a renewable power source into the facility. All three teams rejected wind power due to expense and zoning restrictions. Solar panel rooftop panels were used by all three, but the UW team opted to put their panels on the roof of an adjacent campus building ideally situated to gather solar energy. The electricity generated was used to power both the garage and building. Teams also presented solar financing options for their clients to calculate into the overall ROI.

ELECTRI International thanks the NECA contractors, chapters and industry partners who shared their experts as student team advisers and Challenge jurors.

Oct 13

Welcome to NECA 2013 Washington DC!

The rainy weather hasn’t dampened spirits so far at the Board of Governors meeting, Energy Forum and pre-convention workshops – and especially last night’s Opening Reception at the National Building Museum!

I’m Beth Margulies, NECA’s communications director, and I’ll be live-blogging all the great programs and events at NECA 2013 DC. My personal favorite so far has been the Green Energy Challenge student design competitions – the three finalists teams from Iowa State, Penn State and the University of Washington gave outstanding presentations yesterday an intimidating “Board of Directors” made up of NECA contractors and industry experts. Those jurors will evaluate the presentations and the winning team will be announced Sunday at the NECA Student Chapter Summit.

Student teams were charged with creating a bid package for lighting retrofits, EV charging station installations and a renewable power source for a parking facility in their campus communities – everything from the types of lighting controls to financing options.  Pretty impressive stuff, and each student team thanked their sponsoring NECA chapter and local contractors for helping them create their comprehensive presentations.

Stay tuned to find out who won this year’s Green Energy Challenge, plus recaps from the general sessions and photos and videos direct from NECA 2013 DC! Leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts about what you see and experience.

Proud Penn State Green Energy Challenge finalists + their green garage retrofit

Aug 28

National Energy Forum Brings Industry and Policy Leaders Together

How Electrical Construction is Shaping Renewable Power, Energy Conservation

Third Annual NECA Energy Forum

Saturday, October 12 
12-4 pm
$145 for NECA members
$75 with full Convention registration
[Lunch is included with registration]

As our nation strives for energy independence and consumer demand for renewable power and energy conservation continues to rise, electrical contractors are constantly updating their expertise in green energy trends and technology. The NECA 2013 Energy Forum will bring electrical contractors together with leading policy-makers and industry leaders shaping the energy solutions market today.

The speakers and panel discussions at the 2013 NECA Energy Forum are the best source for practical information about the trends, technology, and economic factors affecting the energy market today. Developers, engineers and building managers look to electrical contractors to provide solutions for their green energy goals. Discover the latest advances in emerging technologies, energy efficiency, renewables, energy storage, combined heat and power, and the projected abundance of natural gas can mean for the electrical construction industry.

The Energy Forum will wrap up just in time for the finalists’ presentations for NECA Green Energy Challenge, the annual NECA Student Chapter design competition. Also remember that energy solutions education at NECA 2013 Washington DC doesn’t stop with the Energy Forum and continue with management education and technical workshops. Register today!

Jul 16

Penn State, Iowa State and University of Washington Earn Finalist Spots for 2013 Green Energy Challenge

Annual Student Design Competition Inspires Real Energy Solutions

The 2013 annual Green Energy Challenge student competition, sponsored by ELECTRI International – the Foundation for Electrical Construction – is down to three finalist Student Chapter teams: The Pennsylvania State University, Iowa State University, and the University of Washington.

The finalists were selected by an eight-member competition jury that included electrical contractors and industry allies. Fifteen student teams submitted proposals to conduct an energy audit of a parking structure on campus or in the neighboring community for the initial round of competition. In addition to the technical recommendations offered in each retrofit proposal, teams were judged on construction planning and project management.

2012 Green Energy Challenge poster session in Las Vegas

2012 Green Energy Challenge poster session in Las Vegas

Finalist teams are responsible for further developing their proposal into presentations for the full jury at the 2013 annual convention of the National Electrical Contractors Association, Oct. 12-15, in Washington, D.C. NECA’s annual Energy Forum will also be held that day; the Energy Forum focusing on the work of electrical contractors in the energy solutions market of renewable power, energy storage and efficiency technology. ELECTRI International hosts the students’ travel to and participation at the event. A poster session of submissions from the participating student chapter teams is also part of the event.

Jurist Phillip Rose, Roman Electric Company, Milwaukee, WI, offered his analysis of the 2013 competition: “Since the beginning of the Green Energy Challenge, the bar has been raised each and every year. This year was the tightest competition we have seen to date. The level of knowledge and professionalism in the proposals were as good as we’ve ever seen. I was really impressed with our three 2013 finalists. After reading their proposals, I can’t wait to see the final three presentations.”

ELECTRI International President Russ Alessi said, “The student teams are bringing cutting-edge solutions to real-world problems that building owners and operators are coping with today. The Green Energy Challenge is an ideal way to explore what options could truly work, with guidance from electrical contractors who have hands-on experience.”

About ELECTRI: ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction, Inc. is the primary research arm of the electrical construction industry. Foundation research helps to improve the productivity, professionalism, and competitiveness of electrical contractors. ELECTRI International also represents the U.S. electrical construction industry internationally. For more information, visit www.electri.org.

For more information about ELECTRI International and the Green Energy Challenge, contact Sylvia Selwood, ELECTRI Director of Operations and University Relations, at 301-215-4539 or sselwood@necanet.org

Oct 02

More Winners for Green Energy Challenge in Poster Competition!

In addition to the four finalist presentations, Green Energy Challenge jurors also evaluated submissions from all 18 NECA Student Chapter teams who entered this year’s competition. Each team was invited to display their submission on a single board, including those who didn’t make it to the finals.

Southern Polytechnic University won first place in the poster competition, followed by Purdue University in second and GEC team winners Youngstown State University in third place for the competition.

We also learned that this year’s GEC winners aren’t just taking home prestigious awards, but cash prizes for their accomplishments. Finalist team awards won:

  • First Place: Youngstown State University — $2,000
  • Second Place: University of Washington — $1,000
  • Third Place: Iowa State University — $750

Poster competition winners won:

  • First Place: Southern Polytechnic University — $750
  • Second Place: Purdue University — $500
  • Third Place: Youngstown State University — $250

Full details about the 2012 Green Energy Challenge competition guidelines and scoring can be found online.

Sep 30

Youngstown State University Takes Top Prize at 2012 Green Energy Challenge

Students from Youngstown State University took top prize at the fourth annual Green Energy Challenge, sponsored by the National Electrical Contractors Association and ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction.

Winners were announced from the four  finalist teams following team project presentations at the conclusion of NECA’s Energy Forum on Saturday, Sept. 29. Youngstown came in second at last year’s competition, and the students were thrilled by their first win.

The University of Washington team came in second, and Iowa State University was third. Georgia Tech came in fourth. This was the first year four teams were included in the finalists’ presentations. Christian McCuen from the University of Washington was recognized as Best Presenter. The winners were announced at the annual NECA Student Chapter Summit on Sunday, Sept. 30.

For the 2012 Challenge, teams selected a facility on their campus, conducted an energy audit of the building’s power and lighting systems, and designed and proposed a retrofit for both systems. Teams were encouraged to use NECAWORKS in their proposals.

Finalist proposals can be viewed online.

Congratulations to Youngstown State University and their NECA chapter affiliate, Mahoning Valley Chapter, NECA!


Sep 29

Riley Recognized as 2012 NECA Industry Partner

NECA’s Board of Governors recognized Dr. David Riley as the association’s 2012 Industry Partner Award winner during their annual meeting today.

The NECA Industry Partner Award recognizes organizations or individuals who are not NECA members, yet have significantly contributed to the electrical contracting industry’s success through their decisions, actions, or cooperation with NECA.

Riley, an associate professor of architectural engineering at The Pennsylvania State University, has been a regular contributor to NECA’s education programs for several years, urging the association to reach out to students to promote electrical contracting and using his own research talent through ELECTRI International to help NECA members improve their business.

“The first research grant award I won from NECA changed my life,” Riley remarked when he accepted the award today. “It enabled me to pursue something I believe in – learning outside the classroom. NECA has been a true education partner and supported this mission for over 10 years.”

Riley described Penn State’s entry into the 2006 Solar Decathlon, when funding had tried up and the student team was struggling to overcome design and technical challenge. Several NECA chapters and ELECTRI International came through with financial support to help complete the team’s project, and IBEW members personally helped the students with the final construction of their solar-powered green house for the Dept. of Energy competition. “Our successes have been shared with NECA,” Riley said.

Riley currently serves as the executive director of the Penn State Center for Sustainability, which is focused on the engagement of students in sustainability challenges. He is also leading the development of multiple initiatives at Penn State funded by the U.S. Department of Energy that address the integration of commercialization, workforce development, and education programs in the fields of energy efficiency, solar, wind, and smart grid technologies, and he spoke about how his connection with NECA has made these advances possible.

Riley has led many ELECTRI studies related to energy efficiency and green building power systems, and he was the first faculty member to champion ELECTRI’s Student Talent Initiative and Green Energy Challenge, a design competition for NECA student chapters. He has also worked with NECA’s Management Education Institute to develop and deliver in-depth courses reflecting these findings in order to help contractors succeed in new and emerging green electrical construction markets.

“Multiple partners are necessary to make this kind of innovation possible,” Riley said. “NECA has been a true partner for me.”

Aug 13

Meet the 2012 Green Energy Challenge Finalists

A highlight of recent NECA conventions, the annual ELECTRI International Green Energy Challenge student design competition will feature four finalist teams in Las Vegas —  Georgia Tech, Iowa State University, University of Washington, and Youngstown State University

The teams will make their presentations in Las Vegas on September 29 immediately following the 2012 NECA Energy Forum. Each team is made up of construction management and engineering students who participate in their university’s student chapter of NECA. This year marks the first time four finalist teams have been chosen, as opposed to three.

“Energy Forum participants enjoy finishing the day hearing about the students’ visions of the industry’s future,” said Rob Colgan, NECA executive director, market development and Energy Forum organizer. “The Forum focuses on electrical contractors learning from each other, sharing how different companies are incorporating a variety of energy solutions work into their businesses. Then we can see how the next generation is using that information to create real changes for buildings on their campuses.”

More information about the 2012 Green Energy Challenge >>

Aug 15

4 Reasons to Attend the 2011 NECA Energy Forum

There’s never been anything like the Energy Forum for the electrical construction industry that kicks off NECA’s 2011 Convention and Trade Show in San Diego. Making sense of the range of opportunities in green energy will be the focus of this all-new event which will be held on Saturday, October 22, 8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Speakers and session leaders will discuss the many ways electrical contractors can enter this market and what questions they need to ask.

In addition to hearing an exciting keynote address from Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Energy Forum participants will hear from industry experts on energy economic modeling, the electric vehicle market, and innovative energy storage technology. An informational brochure is provided through the link to “Related Documents” at the end of this article.

Here are four good reasons to attend:

1. To Understand What the Opportunities Are

According to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine, alternative power and energy efficiency upgrades are the next boom market for contractors. We don’t want to lose what could be the largest game-changing trend to hit our industry in the past two decades. Right now, there is tremendous momentum and incentives for sustainable construction. With those new energy markets come services like installing and maintaining electric vehicle supply equipment, designing “net-zero energy” buildings with integrated systems, and energy storage.

Energy work is “counter-cyclical” — meaning, that in tough economic times, your customers want and need to save money on operating costs. Energy work is a revenue opportunity independent of the construction market. For building owners and operators, the savings and tax credits energy solutions deliver are very desirable. When an electrical contractor can help them save money, it doesn’t matter how healthy the rest of the construction market may be.

Whether it’s utility-grade wind power, solar PV installations or helping a customer save on his electric bill by swapping out old ballasts for energy-efficient LED drivers, NECA’s 2011 Energy Forum will cover all the options and opportunities in the new energy economy.

2. To Hear from Colleagues about the Different Ways They’ve Reached Out For Business in These New Markets

The good news is that many electrical contractors already have the technical knowledge to engage with these markets — but most don’t know how to integrate energy services into their existing businesses or market their capabilities to existing and potential customers.

There isn’t one right way to incorporate energy efficiency, conservation and renewable power into an electrical contracting company. Moderators and presenters at the Energy Forum all come from the front lines of the industry to help contractors answer when and how they can add new energy services to their traditional business models.

3. Because NECA’s 2011 Energy Forum Is the Most Comprehensive Energy Education Forum Available, at the Lowest Cost in the Least Amount of Time

These days, everyone is doing more with less. If you want to minimize the time and money you spend away from the office, while maximizing your education and experiences in San Diego, the Energy Forum will give you the biggest potential gain for your business.

4. Because NECA’s 2011 Energy Forum Was Created Specifically for NECA Contractors by NECA Contractors

The Energy Forum was proposed by NECA’s Energy Solution Task Force members who are electrical contractors just like you. And like you, we are each trying to determine what our place in the emerging energy solutions market can and should be.

The Energy Forum was developed to help contractors answer some of those questions. We understand that there isn’t a single path of entry for all NECA member companies to pursue this work. But we also know that if we don’t begin immediately offering our expertise and services, customers will go elsewhere to get their renewable and energy-efficiency needs met.

The Energy Forum will discuss concrete examples of how to become an energy solutions contractor by addressing some fundamental questions, such as:

“Electrical contractors are the vital link between energy-efficient technology and cost-efficient construction,” said Stan Lazarian, President, Electric Service & Supply Co., Pasadena, California, and chair of NECA’s Energy Solution Task Force. “Our goal at the Energy Forum is to provide contractors and their customers with an opportunity to share what they’ve learned about working on renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency projects.”

“How and where we get our energy has become a serious question for building owners, government leaders and developers. Rising energy prices and energy inefficiencies have everyone thinking about what the smart alternatives could be, but those alternatives have to make financial sense, both for the customer and the electrical contractor,” said Rob Colgan, NECA executive director, Market Development.

Alternative power and energy efficiency upgrades are the next boom market for contractors, Lazarian said. “But it’s hard for electrical contractors to know when it’s the right time for them to add new services to their traditional business model,” he said.