Since ESSCO had already gained
some solar experience, when
IBEW/NECA training was offered,
the company enrolled some of its
people in both PV and advanced
lighting controls courses.
“There are excellent opportu-
nities in solar, but very few solar
companies do more than just PV,”
Lazarian said. “As a building owner
myself, I get a lot calls offering roof-
top PV installations. They send me
a slick presentation saying this will
solve all my problems. On occasion,
I call back and say I’m interested,
but I’m concerned that the whole
building is not sufficiently energy-
efficient. Almost without exception,
they say not to worry about that.”
ESSCO had discovered that,
while it knew a good deal about
energy-efficient renovation, it didn’t
quite know how to sell it because it
wasn’t the company’s business model.
“This is a different sort of sales process than customary
renovation job bidding,” Lazarian said. “Traditional renovation usually involves a general contractor or architect who has
come up with a plan. But, in this case, the electrical contractor presents the plan. What’s really required to break into this
market is the ability to sell customers on the financial benefits
of renewable-energy solutions. The problem is that we ECs are
not very patient, and we think we can bid and call back the next
week. But this is a slower, more deliberate process.”
Lazarian said his company’s approach is to tell the customer
that ESSCO wants to resolve his or her overall energy problems.
Company representatives walk the customer through his or her
electric bill, suggest ways to drive demand charges down, and
offer specific types of installations to make the whole building
energy-efficient. It’s selling a comprehensive program, not just
one component, such as PV or advanced lighting controls.
Hitting the books
Electrical contractors who have made a commitment to this
market have been able to enhance their position—and their
profitability—in the energy-efficient renovation project process, according to Sullivan.
“They are moving into the general contractor role and are
the ones developing the project, not just bidding on it,” he said.
“Given the proper training, they can walk a building with the
owner, perform a preliminary audit, and develop the project.
Then they coordinate all aspects,
including lighting, controls, win-
dow film treatment, PV and any
other appropriate measures.”
In addition, contractors should
learn all about the California
Additionally, the California Energy Commission adopted
changes to its standards that require lighting controls and
devices to be certified as properly installed and operational.
The systems must be certified by an acceptance test technician
who works for an acceptance test employer.
CALC TP-certified electricians and contractors can take an
additional one-day class to be certified as Title 24 acceptance
test technicians and acceptance test employers.
“This is a significant opportunity for our contractors and
electricians who have made the effort to be the best trained in
the industry at these systems,” Sullivan said.
The combination of job skills required for competing successfully in the energy-efficient renovation market are more
diffuse than what electrical contractors have historically been
used to, but if the will is there, the means and resources to
become a participant are available.
“Make no mistake, there is a pretty hefty price to pay in
terms of time, dedication and the necessary education in order
to effectively get into this field,” Lazarian said. “But the opportunities it offers are considerable, and almost certainly this
market will continue to grow.”
QUINN reports on a broad range of business and industry issues
for journals in the United States and Europe. He can be reached at
203.323.9850 and firstname.lastname@example.org. T H
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