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Billed as the greenest skyscraper in the world, The Tower at PNC Plaza pushes the limits of green design with a highly sophisticated breathable ventilation system and advanced solar and lighting features. Lighthouse Electric and Local 5 are on the job in Pittsburgh.

Wherever you may be, and however you may be watching, a pleasant good day to you, and thanks for clicking on this edition of Electric TV, powered by the National Electrical Contractors Association, NECA, and their labor partner, the IBEW, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. I’m your host, Dominic Giarratano.

The NECA-IBEW team is the right choice for electrical construction work in America, and here’s yet another reason why.

Among other things, a trip to the doctor’s office almost always involves listening to your lungs, to check that you’re inhaling and exhaling properly – that your ventilation system is working as it should. Buildings of all shapes and sizes have ventilation systems, too, just like humans. But you wouldn’t exactly say that buildings can “breathe”, would you?

Well, that is, until now.

As crazy as it all might seem, the NECA-IBEW team in Pittsburgh is playing doctor, electrically speaking, on a new skyscraper with the ability, once complete and properly installed, to literally breathe. We traveled to the Steel City recently to give this building’s ventilation a checkup of our own.

Being green in today’s construction world is somewhat old hat. Not because it’s any less virtuous today than it has been in the past, but today, you’ve got to be greener. You’ve got to go further. You’ve got to push the limits. Designing a building which has the distinction of being the greenest skyscraper in the world certainly would be that, but expectation has to meet reality – mission in progress at PNC Bank.

Dean Marraccini, MEP Project Manager, PJ Dick General Contracting

“It’s a living, breathing building. The façade is unique in that the exterior will open and allow fresh air into the building. The air will flow through the floors into a shaft in the middle of the building. The top of the building acts as a solar chimney. It will create heat at the top of the building, which will add or assist that draw coming up through the chimney to get that air flow across the floor plates.”

The air flow is initiated by the building’s windows. On the outer edge of the double façade, the windows open based on sophisticated control systems that monitor exterior conditions. Sunlight, temperature, humidity and pollution levels are just a few factors that the control system reads, communicating when and for how long the windows open or stay closed, allowing for the building to, as mentioned, breathe on its own.

On the inside, the lighting system utilizes the sun, or lack thereof on some days, to determine how much artificial light to bring to each floor and each office. Behind it all is the brains of the operation: the NECA-IBEW team – Lighthouse Electric and IBEW Local 5.

Dean Marraccini, MEP Project Manager, PJ Dick General Contracting

“Lighthouse Electric is our electrical contractor. They are the main driver behind all the installations, in addition to being very competitive pricing-wise. There is a high level of comfort with us in working with Lighthouse, and also from PNC. I know that Lighthouse has worked with them on other projects.”

Jesse Mikec, Project Superintendent, Lighthouse Electric

“We have a motto. It’s ‘tools, material and information at the point of installation,’ so as much as we can get to the guy or worker or Local 5 journeyman on this job site installing, is we will try to get it right to him.”

Dean Marraccini, MEP Project Manager, PJ Dick General Contracting

“You know you’re not going to have to watch them or constantly make sure they’re doing the right things. You know they’re going to do the right things. You know their guys are knowledgeable enough to get it done and get it done right, so it’s a great asset.”

The management and installation of this project is made possible by the NECA-IBEW team being able to adapt to the demands of a changing industry.

Chad Jones, Executive Director, Western Pennsylvania Chapter of NECA

“The project comes off of a computer screen now, and kind of evolves or comes alive as is goes through the process. So, the changes from the technological standpoint have been great, or very vast, in the process for how a project comes out of the ground.”

Jesse Mikec, Project Superintendent, Lighthouse Electric

“On this job, we’ve been using a lot of tablets and iPads for drawings. In that case, they’re also able to get their information, as far as information from the engineers and architects.”

Tim Conlan, Electrician, IBEW Local 5

“When an owner sees a guy carrying a pile pf prints these days, and a guy carrying an iPad flipping through, that iPad has everything that pile of prints has, and more. I think they’re going to want the more organized company.”

Jesse Mikec, Project Superintendent, Lighthouse Electric

“At the top of the job, we might be doing temporary power and working with the ironworkers, and on the bottom of the job site, we might be putting cover plates on and devicing out. So we have all aspects of our schedule being done at one time.”

Bob Leroi, 3D Planner, IBEW Local 5

“The foreman can take a look and see when is a good time for him to get in there and install, maybe wait until this sheet metal goes through, then let’s put a pipe in. It’s a money-saver for sure, as far as time in the field. I mean, hands down.”

Chad Jones, Executive Director, Western Pennsylvania Chapter of NECA

“You can’t build a building like the PNC tower, a building that’s virtually alive, without the brightest individuals on the ground doing the install. Local 5 provides the best electricians and technicians the industry has to offer, and we firmly believe that. Being NECA contractors, we always like to say that we have the best and the brightest contractors in the industry, and we use the best technologies and the best resources available to us to accomplish that.”

Dean Marraccini, MEP Project Manager, PJ Dick General Contracting

“You know the union crew is going to be highly qualified, highly skilled, especially with Lighthouse being the electrical contractor. You know that they’re going to have a workforce that understands it and is going to be able to get it done correctly. It’s a great benefit to having those kind of guys here.”

That’s it for this edition. For story extras and more, check us out on Facebook and on Twitter. Want an email when there’s something new instead? Sign up below! See you next time.