Electrical wiring considerations in a LEED project

If you’re building a green home, there’s one subcontractor that is going to have a harder time adopting green building methods than the others, and that is your electrician.

Why you may ask?

These guys are generally old school, the young guys who work for them, they learned the old school way. That means wires everywhere, overrun everything just in case and to cover the electrical code and challenging inspectors. They’re also used to homeowners (wives in particular, not that I am ackowledging my issues) who change their mind on the locations of fixtures.

But having just gone through this process, and working with an old school electrician guided by my young, eco consciuos electrical systems contractor (ESC), I’ve learned you must always work with subs who share your vision because if you don’t your project will never quite come out the way you intended.

For electricians who find themselves working on a green building project there are a number of areas we’re they can approach jobs from different perspective:

  1. Layout: Establish your pathways as far ahead of actual construction as you can. In a green home, chances are your client will be thinking about these things further out, since every amount and type of material used in the home can positively or negatively impact its LEED® for Homes (or competitive equivalent) rating. Planning for everything from lighting to appliance to equipment ahead of time can shorten wire runs, material usage, and time on a job.
  2. Materials: Wire for present day code and wiring needs, but run conduit for future proofing especially in homes or projects that are getting spray foam insulation.  Plan your wire runs so you aren’t left with extra wire that will be wasted in a back room, just to be tossed becaase wire is one of the least most recylable materials on a job.
  3. Lighting specs: get up to date on today’s lighting – from dimmable LEDs to new ballasted CFLs, there are lighting products that can save your customers energy and money, and may even increase you profit line on materials.
  4. Lighting Control: Be at the forefront of a hot industry. Lighting control systems require an electrician for installation and wiring, get certified, companies like Lutron and Control4 have certification programs that can bring lighting control into your business – again an opportunity for profit for you and energy savings for your customers.

Last tips, be clean. Electricians are notoriusly messy on jobs and leave behind the plethora of carboard, wire cuts, shredded peels and anchor nails wherever they may fall. Getting these scraps into the proper recycling containers means your contributing to the waste management program on the project.

The way I see it, this isn’t just about electricians opening their eyes to whole new practices but evolving, as the rest of have, into an era of responsibility and competition.

Time to step up.

posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter : newscaster

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