Chicagoland’s NECA-IBEW IN-TECH Technical Institute Constructing Renewable Energy
Training Field, Potential Net-Zero Energy Building To Teach Next-Generation Techniques
DRIVERS IN THE CHICAGOLAND AREA
will get to see a compilation of distinctive structures taking shape as they pass by the IBEW-NECA Technical Institute
(IN-TECH) campus 15 miles southwest of downtown. Among
the showcased technologies will be towers, turbines and
solar panels. Construction has begun on a renewable energy
training field that IN-TECH will use to train union electricians in the latest sustainable technologies.
When it is completed, this project designed by Legat Architects, will mark the largest outdoor training campus of
its kind in the country. It may also become one of the
Midwest’s first net-zero energy facilities. A ZNE building
is one that is self-sustainable, with an annual balance of
zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions.
As previously reported in this magazine, the first NECA-IBEW net-zero training center opened in San Leandro,
California, in May 2013 to foster advanced skills in building
automation, lighting control and on-site power generation.
Opening next year, the Net Zero Plus Electrical Training
Institute in Los Angeles will train electricians in demand
response, grid reliability technology, utility-scale battery
storage, advanced building and lighting controls, and plug
load strategies to become “Total Energy Solution Providers."
“It’s a place to maximize the skills of our apprentices and
journeymen,” IN-TECH chairman and Local 134 Business Manager Terry Allen acknowledged in a press release referring to the new facility on the rise in Illinois. “It’s also a
regional demonstration site for the latest advances in sustainable technology.”
James J. McGlynn, vice-chairman of IN-TECH and president of Mc Williams Electric, noted, “Our contractors will
have a competitive edge on the newest technologies.”
A glowing strip of LED lights will draw attention to the
intriguingly-shaped new building. This 4,500-square-ft.
facility aiming for net zero energy consumption will house
inverters and distribution equipment (and, eventually, a
pad capable of charging electric cars without them having
to be plugged in).
Alan Bombick, principal at Legat Architects, said, “The
building’s design calls attention to the technology inside,
which is at the forefront of power management techniques.”
Project Manager Rob Wroble added, “The building’s sloped
roofs have sections clad in shingles and in metal panels
so that the members of Local 134 can experience photo-
voltaic installations on different roof types.”
A ground-mounted solar field, which the builders say is
about the size of a football field, will gather enough energy
to not only power the new storage building and a welding
lab in the institute’s main building, but it will also push
excess energy back into the grid.
Additional highlights on the 25-acre field include a 100-
foot-tall cell tower for climbing and mounting antennae;
a 60-ft.-tall climbing tower for practice ascending wind
turbines; a solar car port that uses the sun’s energy to charge
five electric vehicles; a solar tracker on a rotating base that
automatically follows the sun’s position; a 75-ft.-tall miniature wind turbine with a pole that tilts down so students
can service the turbine on the ground. ;
The IBEW-NECA Technical Institute (IN-TECH) will use this
25-acre demonstration site to train electricians in the latest
sustainable technologies. The project will stand as the largest
outdoor training campus of its kind and include one of the
Midwest’s first net-zero energy facilities. IN-TECH is sponsored by the Chicago & Cook County Chapter, NECA and
IBEW Local 134 with the purpose of providing highly trained
electrical workers to the contractors, safe and efficient electrical installation to their customers, and excellent wage and benefit packages
to the union electricians.” Image source: Legat Architects.