For more than a century, Murphy Co. in St. Louis has experienced success in mechanical and plumbing design-build projects.
In 104 years of history, however, the last 10 years has made
the difference. Years before the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” sent the word
“green” buzzing into the stratosphere, Murphy Co. adopted an environmentally
friendly approach, giving clients the opportunity to design their projects to a
The U.S. Green Building Council’s internationally-recognized
green building certification system, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design, provides a guideline for levels of energy efficiency in design,
construction, operations and maintenance. Levels for all buildings include
certified, silver, gold and platinum. Murphy Co. has completed two LEED-gold
projects for Washington University’s Brauer Hall, the company’s first major
LEED project, was finished in 2010 and Green Hall this July.
“We’ve been seeing more and more LEED buildings pop up here
in St. Louis the last six or seven years,” said Don Lynott, project manager for
Murphy Co. “The city itself is progressing more and more toward greener
building. I think you see in St. Louis what you see around the country and not
only in construction but recycling and being as paperless as possible.”
In Green and Brauer halls, where labs and mixed-use teaching
facilities and administration offices are located, workers had to be familiar
with tools such as lab exhaust, heat recovery coils and high efficiency hot
water heater systems. This sort of specialization takes skilled current and
incoming workers. Journeymen and apprentices alike require training and
continuing education through the training center at Sheet Metal Workers Local 36.
The St. Louis Sheet Metal Industry Training School is
operated by a joint trust made up of three members of St. Louis Sheet Metal Ai-
Conditioning and Contractors’ National Association chapter and three members of
the local Sheet Metal Workers union and uses curriculum developed by the International Training Institute.
“Our local is pretty progressive when it comes to things
like this,” Lynott said. “Our guys are coming out of there with a base level of
working on a green project, and our field guys are very well educated.”
The apprenticeship program is a college curriculum rooted in
basic skills and knowledge. Having a solid foundation is the basis for a worker
who can adapt and learn throughout his or her life, said Dan Andrews, Local 36
training center coordinator.
“They are exposed to everything,” said Steve Sneed,
assistant coordinator for the local training center. “We’re teaching at night
as much as during the day so the apprentices can add to their skills. The
journeymen, too. As the markets open up, the training center is ready.”
In addition to hiring skilled workers, Murphy rode the surge
in energy efficiency and introduced an energy solutions division four years
ago. The division meets with clients about saving energy in their projects,
whether they’re aiming for certification or LEED-platinum.
“We can offer to our clients energy savings so they can get
rebates. It’s on the proactive side and a service to provide to our owners
aside from building a building,” Lynott said. Aligning with local utility
companies, and old fashioned word of mouth, has helped the division prosper.
“It offers clients more value out of our organization. It’s starting to take
traction now and we’re starting to get more business on that side of the
Because building green is still relatively new, educating
the clients about their long-term savings is a challenge, but because of
increased demand, customers are eager to learn.
“The points in LEED are very clear, very straight forward,”
said Matt Gildehaus, design and building engineer for Murphy Co.. “It’s
managing the process and educating the owner. We’re in front of them earlier
than most. Those decisions have to be made early.”
Murphy is building their “green” presence in the community,
exponentially in the last three years with the completion of the two halls on
Washington University’s campus. The initial investment was worth it, Lynott
said, and the return is even better.
“Every job is different. We certainly refer back to Brauer
or Green halls. We lean on those experiences,” Lynott added. “They’re
successful for us, not just because of the awards, but because the client got a
From a local level, sheet metal workers at Local 36 are
anticipating the future of the industry in St. Louis. The center was the
recipient of a grant due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“There are more green construction projects coming up. I
really think St. Louis is going to be a hub for sustainable construction in the
country along with Portland (Oregon) and Denver,” Andrews said.
Sneed, who worked for Murphy Co. for 31 years before coming
to the training center, added “Murphy Company is on the cutting edge when it
comes to green building.”
More than 15,000 apprentices are registered at training
facilities in the United States and Canada. The ITI is jointly sponsored by
Sheet Metal Workers union and the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors'
National Association. ITI supports apprenticeship and advanced career training
for union workers in the sheet metal industry throughout the United States and
Canada. Located in Alexandria, Va., ITI produces a standardized sheet metal
curriculum supported by a wide variety of training materials free of charge to
sheet metal apprentices and journeymen.
For more information about ITI, visit this website or call (703)
(This article was supplied by the International Training
St. Louis company building 'green'
January 11, 2012