A construction worker rides by on a lift inside where the classrooms for the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union 104 training center are being built. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Solano County

Work under way on ‘green’ steelworkers building

By From page A1 | May 05, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Construction workers are turning the vacant, former Camping World building into an energy-efficient, “green” structure so future workers can learn “green” building techniques there.

The Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 104 and Bay Area Sheet Metal Air Conditioning Contractors National Association are creating a training center at 4350 Central Place. Since the ribbon-cutting Jan. 17, the cavernous building has been gutted and now is being rebuilt, with a target completion date this summer.

“It’s going to be a showcase,” said Keith Dias, a training coordinator for the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union 104.

Seven bays where RVs once were serviced will be a training area for metal cutting, welding and other sheet metal skills. Another section of the building will house classrooms and a union hall.

Sheet metal workers work with metal for such things as roofs, gutters, siding and heating and air conditioning systems. They help build both homes and commercial buildings.

Dias said he expects “green” building standards to continue to gain prominence. He expects the California Building Code to incorporate more and more of the practices.

California already has green building standards and even calls its building code “CALGreen.” Among other things, CALGreen requires new buildings to meet water use standards and divert construction waste from landfills. Other parts of the code that are voluntary could become requirements over time.

Given all of that, “green” building techniques will be part of what apprentices and journeymen will learn at the Fairfield training center.

But Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union 104 is going beyond the state building codes for its own building. It intends to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

LEED is a set of energy-efficient standards overseen by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. The Solano County General Plan calls LEED the “nationally accepted benchmark.”

“We’re trying to practice what we preach,” Dias said.

Solar panels on the roof will provide electricity. Dias estimates this will save the center $15,000 annually.

Low-emission vehicles are being used for construction. Storm water runoff will go through a filter. The building will have low-water-flow fixtures. Materials used in the building will have low emissions to improve indoor air quality. A dashboard near the entry will report energy and water use.

Recycling is also a big component. Steel being used in the building has been used before.

“They go melt down a Chevy pickup and make studs out of them,” Dias said.

A LEED commissioning agent will check the building to verify that the promised “green” steps are taken. Dias estimated achieving LEED “silver” status will add $250,000 to the project’s cost. The union took a pass on going for “platinum” status because of the expense.

“That little plaque on the wall is costing a lot of money,” Dias said.

Perhaps the energy savings will return the extra expenses after a decade or so, he said. But the union is more worried about doing the right thing, he said.

All of this is voluntary. Fairfield doesn’t require builders to meet the LEED standards.

Fairfield is working on a climate change plan to help California meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. Community Development Department Director Erin Beavers said the city might incorporate the LEED standards. But, he said, he doesn’t know if these would be mandatory for new construction or something the city encourages.

Solano County has taken a similar approach for new construction in its rural areas.

“We don’t require LEED,” said Michael G. Yankovich, planning program manager for the Solano County Planning Commission. “But certainly we encourage it.”

The county has completed a climate-action plan. Yankovich can see further county green building standards becoming mandatory in light of the state push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Solano County has several buildings that meet LEED standards. Among them is Mercedes-Benz of Fairfield, which was certified in 2012.

Most of the other buildings are government buildings. For example, the Solano County Government Center got certified in 2005, the county Health and Social Services building in Vallejo was certified in 2011 and the Travis Air Force Base Global Support Squadron Facility was certified in 2012.

If all goes as planned, the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union 104 training center will soon join the list.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

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