Green construction is everywhere these days, and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md., is making sure its members are ready to serve the growing market of customers looking for energy-efficient alternatives to traditional building methods. To support this initiative, NECA's national office recently became a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that's committed to expanding sustainable building practices.

NECA and the USGBC are currently finalizing a workshop, scheduled for NECA's annual convention in Chicago, October 4-7, on how electrical contractors can become LEED-accredited professionals in the “New Construction” category.

“Sustainable construction can be a part of any building project, and our goal is to help owners, developers, and general contractors find the right balance in their electrical and communication systems,” says Rob Colgan, NECA executive director for marketing.

Although energy-efficient systems are undoubtedly an important aspect of LEED ratings, their real attractiveness, says Colgan, is the money they can save building owners over the life of a building. The fact that consumers are becoming more educated about alternatives to conventional power generation, such as solar, wind, and biomass, is also driving growth in this market. “Effectively using these alternative methods of power generation, however, takes specific skills and experience with a wide array of new products,” he adds.