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E-Contractor Academy Grad Helps Deliver Los Angeles County’s First Net-Zero Energy Building

Photo courtesy of office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas​, 2nd from left; Ryan Tittsworth, center; Veronica Soto 2nd from right; with RBT workers A graduate of Emerald Cities Collaborative’s E-Contractor Academy –  Ryan Tittsworth, president of RBT Electric, Inc. – installed the solar panels that helped make the recently renovated Culver City Julian Dixon Library into Los Angeles County’s first net-zero energy building.

New solar panels, energy efficient lighting and windows and an upgraded heating, ventilation and air conditioning system have made the library’s total energy consumption roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created onsite. 

The solar system alone will save $27,000 a year in energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 28 cars off the road.

RBT Electric, an African American veteran-owned company, installed the library’s solar panels and insisted that half of the electricians on the project were local county residents.

Prepared to Compete

Photo courtesy of Ryan Tittsworth/RBT Electric

The E-Contractor Academy, a partnership between ECC and the County of Los Angeles that is sponsored in part by Citi Community Development, prepares small business and minority contractors to compete and perform energy efficiency – or in the case of RBT, renewable energy – retrofits for and within LA County, as well as for other energy-saving contracts throughout Southern California.

The academy’s seven-week program, Tittsworth said, “was a great way to increase our capacity and learn practical techniques about how to improve our business and compete for larger contracts.”

He added that the program “exceeded [his] expectations” by including speakers on important topics such as project labor agreements, known as PLAs, and employer tax credits – lots of information designed “to help small businesses grow and compete.”

RBT also recently completed the solar installation on the Los Angeles County AC Bilbrew Library, for a combined contract value of $963,880.  Currently, Tittsworth is awaiting the results of another bid the company submitted for a county solar project.

“Emerald Cities Los Angeles is proud to expand opportunities for minority- and veteran-owned contractors to win contracts providing high-road jobs for low-income people of color,” observed EC Los Angeles Director Veronica Soto. “And when those workers spend their paychecks locally, the entire community benefits.”

As a disabled veteran and person of color who currently serves on the board of directors of the L.A. Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, Tittsworth makes a point of hiring disabled veterans for his workforce, currently numbering about 20.

“One of the libraries is in a low-income area, so we can give back to that community by hiring local residents,” he added.

Tittsworth praised Soto as “a real advocate for small business” who helped him win the county contracts and go on to hire disadvantaged and veteran workers. She also made him aware of the county’s bid incentive program for disabled veteran-owned businesses. 

“Minority-owned small businesses contribute greatly to the economic strength of Los Angeles County,” said James Alva, Southern California market manager for Citi Community Development, which helped fund the training academy. “The E-Contractor program ensures that LA’s minority-owned small businesses have the expertise and support to succeed and create much-needed jobs and wealth, now and in the future.”

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