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:Read More
Energy Vanguard Blog
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A year or two ago, I remember getting trapped in my car one evening listening to Ira Glass's show This American Life. It was an episode titled When Patents Attack, and I was riveted. They described how a seemingly small change in the US patent office's protocol led to the growth of an industry that siphons money from tech companies through legal, but sketchy, license fees and lawsuits. It seems that some in our industry were paying attention to Nathan Myhrvold's shenanigans and are now going after home inspectors and energy auditors.
After a nice dinner at La Palette in Toronto one evening, I began walking down Queen Street as I headed back toward my hotel. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a piece of paper on the ground. It looked a lot like Canadian money, but surely my eyes deceived me. It must've just been my lack of familiarity with their currency. Right?