IBEW Local 697 named an innovator

MERRILLVILLE – The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana has named Raymond E. Kasmark of IBEW Local 697 Innovator of the Month for February.

The society is part of the Gerald I Lampkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at Ivy Tech Community College in Gary.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 697 building became the first construction project in Lake and Newton Counties certified “Gold” by the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design organization (LEED).

The project is a $10.4 million training and administration center in which criteria for LEED certification was used as its design “compass” throughout the planning, said Kasmark, business manager/financial secretary for Local 697. This completed a four-year process for the new headquarters marking a century of service by contractors and members.

The local was also recognized for innovation last fall when its joint apprenticeship program was one of only 40 programs acknowledged for partnering with institutions such as Ivy Tech Northwest and Purdue University Calumet. The centerpiece of the new 42,000-square-foot building consists of 96 solar roof panels, which were utilized to provide power during the construction process, believed to be again another first in Indiana.

“We are proud of our Outdoor Classroom to train apprentices in solar power,” he added. Now planned is construction of a 155-foot tall 100 kilowatt wind turbine, which will power up to 10 or more homes. This will be constructed in front of the 18-acre site, next to 1 acre of restored short-grass prairie.


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