Energy Vanguard Blog

In Praise of Those Who Do the Dirty Work

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Jun 8, 2016

Drywall installers, plumbers, HVAC technicians. All those folks and more do a lot of the dirty work in the construction, maintenance, and renovation of buildings. It's often not fun. I've done it myself, so I know. As a teenager, I worked summers with my grandfather, an electrician, HVAC contractor, and plumber. Sometimes we had to slither through 18 inch crawl spaces. This was summertime in Louisiana, where other, more reptilian things slithered, too.

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Tags: business, big picture

Pushing Through the Hard Parts

Posted by Allison Bailes on Fri, Mar 4, 2016

In the summer of 1981, my grandparents gave me a 1961 Volkswagen Bug. I had just gone through my sophomore year at Centenary College of Louisiana without having a car and really wanted to have one for my junior year. The only trouble with this purple car is that it had a blown engine. And I didn't even know what that meant.

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Tags: business

17 Reasons I Love Working with Buildings

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Jun 29, 2015

Yesterday I had lunch with Robert Bean and Eric Griffin at the ASHRAE conference here in Atlanta. As we talked about how we got into the field of building science, I began thinking of the reasons I love doing what I do. My background is physics, and I really enjoyed teaching it when I was in academia, but I didn't really fit in there. When I discovered building science (and later blogging), I finally found my niche. Here's why:

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Tags: fun, design, education, business, comfort, indoor air quality, environment & sustainability, big picture, creativity, health & safety, blogging

My Passion for Building Science Education and Bad Contractors

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Apr 27, 2015

When asked to name our passions at the conference I went to in Portland, Oregon last week, I had to think about it a little bit. I had just been discussing what it is we aim to do at a company strategy session a few days before, so that discussion came to mind. At the strategy session, I said we provide building science information to help people who want to do things the right way or who want to hire contractors who do things the right way. I knew there had to be a better way to say it, though.

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Tags: education, business, big picture

My First Affordable Comfort Conference

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Apr 23, 2014

In 2005 I went to my first Affordable Comfort conference, now usually called the ACI national conference or just ACI. The year before I'd gone to the RESNET conference but by 2005, my first business in this industry (ab3 energy) was moving into home performance contracting. I'd just taken a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR class and was trying to learn as much as I could about air sealing, duct sealing, insulation, and running a business in a niche that went against the grain of what most contractors do in homes.

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Tags: education, conferences, business

Is It Time To Give Up On High-Performance Homes?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Mar 17, 2014

To those of us in the industry, the term 'high-performance home' has a clear definition. It's one with a good building enclosure. That is, it's airtight and insulated well. It has properly sized, installed, and commissioned heating and air conditioning systems, including the distribution side. Because it's airtight, it also has mechanical ventilation. The result is a home that's comfortable, healthful, durable, and energy efficient. Apparently that's not good enough.

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Tags: business

A Home Performance Trailer as Good as Pap-Paw's Truck

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Mar 12, 2014

The truck below is the one I spent my teenage summers in and around when I worked for my grandfather, the most senior of the Allison Arthur Baileses. It was a great truck and had almost everything on it that we'd need for a day doing electrical, plumbing, or air conditioning work in Leesville, Louisiana. Pap-paw knew how to outfit a truck to make Bailes Electric as efficient as possible. Recently, I saw something that reminded me of that old truck.

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Tags: business

A December Building Science Bonanza

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Nov 27, 2013

Let me drop a few names on you: John Straube, Peter Yost, Scott Pigg, Keith Williams. Impressed? If you know who those folks are, you probably realize how much you could learn from them. If you don't recognize the names, that's an even better reason for you to come to the Better Buildings: Better Business conference in Chicago. Those four guys are some of the top repositories—and creators—of building science knowledge in North America.

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Tags: education, conferences, business

Is Mike Rowe Right about the War on Work?

Posted by Allison Bailes on Mon, Sep 23, 2013

Peripeteia and anagnorisis. Not the kind of words you expect to hear from people who do 'dirty jobs.' Of course, Mike Rowe doesn't do dirty jobs for a living the same way that most of the people he covers do. Anyone who's done what Mike Rowe did with lamb testicles that day in Craig, Colorado, though, is allowed to use a couple of big words.

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Tags: business, attic

The Secrets of Liars — How to Detect an Internet Solar Energy Scam

Posted by Allison Bailes on Wed, Sep 18, 2013

All I was trying to do was find some football scores on Yahoo the other day when I saw it. I don't go looking for this stuff, and when I do see it, I try to ignore it. But this one clotheslined me with an unfair term.

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Tags: business, scams & ripoffs, solar energy