17 Reasons I Love Working with Buildings
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:
- I can help people be more comfortable, have better indoor air quality, save money, and save energy. The opportunities for improvement in buildings are enormous.
- I still get to do a lot of teaching.
- There's no lack of variety in my work: Learning, verifying, writing, testing, teaching, designing, consulting, speaking, solving, sleuthing...
- Suprises! The photo above was one. It's the hole to vent the refrigerator to the attic. (You have one, right? Well, I hope not.) The creative ways that contractors can screw up houses always keeps things interesting. The ice chest integrated into the duct sytem was another one.
- I can help steer people away from scams and ripoffs, from do-it-yourself photovoltaics to ventilation systems that promise more than they can deliver to "smart vents" that can ice up your air conditioner. Look for another one this week on the Mistbox.
- I get to play with lots of fun tools, like blower doors, manometers, flow hoods, infrared cameras, and data loggers.
- And speaking of data loggers, they help me do things like experiment on my family. That's a reference to something I did with our air conditioner thermostat last summer.
- Of course, those physics degrees I spent 11 years getting are still useful. Building science — and all science, for that matter — is based on the laws of physics.
- I get to dive into the deep end and learn subjects like psychrometrics. Don Gatley recently told me I'm getting close to qualifying for the Psychrometric Fools Society.
- My colleagues at Energy Vanguard, Jeffrey Sauls and Andy Bell, are two of the best people in the world to work with.
- The world of building science is small enough that you get access to the folks with the big names in the industry. Go to a conference and you just might find yourself at dinner or having drinks with them.
- I haven't found any group of people more fun than the building science/home performance crowd. (Jugglers are up there, too, of course.)
- Building science people are passionate. Why do you think there's such a thing as Building Science Fight Club?
- In addition to the scams and ripoffs, there are a lot of really interesting products and ideas: Mini-split heat pumps, mushroom insulation, foam with graphite, net zero energy buildings, and much more.
- I love seeing things done right. It doesn't happen often enough, but when it does, it's a wonderful feeling.
- Once you learn building science, you can never look at buildings the same way again. And you also can't not look. When I walk into a restaurant or a store or someone's home, I look at the ducts and the windows and the mechanical systems. I see the water damage and the mold and the gas oven operating without the range hood on. A couple of years ago, I visited a friend in North Carolina and she said she was nervous and wondered if she should run out and buy some caulk to make the house better before I arrived. I told her not to worry. I like to look and maybe give advice, but I try not to be critical.
- I get to feel like I'm making a difference. Building science matters!
What are your reasons?
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