This is the first official blog posting leading up to the National Conference on Building Commissioning. The 20th NCBC is taking place this May in Nashville and this blog will accomplish three main objectives:
- Introduce the topics that will be presented by experts in the commissioning industry
- Provide personal perspectives on NCBC and the commissioning industry
- Highlight the great events planned in conjunction with the conference
We will be keeping you posted regularly from now until the conference kick-off in May, but with our first post I want to tell how I personally got into the building commissioning business and share why I think the NCBC presents a great opportunity for building industry professionals to network and exchange ideas.
I have been in commissioning for six years, and am currently the Commissioning Department Manager for Epsten Group, Inc., a sustainable design and consulting firm in Atlanta, Georgia; however, I ended up in this field almost entirely by accident. I say almost and not completely because I have been involved in the building services industry since high school, when I lugged tools around for technicians at my father’s HVAC company in Georgia. Though it could be unpleasant during those hot Georgia summers, I gained a lot of knowledge from observing those technicians hard at work.
I continued to work for my father every summer break, taking on more responsibility and learning from the experienced people around me. I often heard in the office or riding in the work trucks that engineers where disconnected—they did not understand what it takes to install, service, and maintain equipment. How could they really? Most design engineers have not been in the position of installing or maintaining building systems. Hearing these complaints led me to the decision that combining an engineering degree with my practical field experience would make me a great designer. And so I went to college, got a mechanical engineering degree, and lined up an opportunity with a respected design firm. But, when I went in for my interview and with my HVAC background on my resume they said, “We want you to join our commissioning department.” I had no idea what commissioning meant at the time, but I thought I would try it for a while and then segue into design work. It did not take long for me to realize that I was best suited for and really enjoyed building commissioning, and so I never quite made it to the design team.
Over the years, I have learned a lot from my co-workers and their wealth of commissioning knowledge. I have always been interested in learning more from other people in the commissioning field. Whether their specialty was data centers, laboratories, or green buildings I wanted to learn how I could get better at what I do. In the commissioning business we don’t often get an opportunity to share our experiences with other commissioning experts. Largely due to the fact that we are off on multiple projects usually in multiple states. The NCBC is a great forum to get together with other industry experts to learn about their successes and lessons learned, which is the reason I attend.
Another reason I look forward to the NCBC is that the conference is an educational event for commissioning professionals, building owners, architects, and engineers alike. It’s about how building commissioning improves the building industry. Participation by facility managers, architects, engineers, and contractors provides us commissioning professionals with an appropriate perspective which can only help us improve and vice versa. The conference gives us a chance to exchange ideas, share thoughts on the future of commissioning, and to network with each other. As a young professional in this business, my involvement with the Building Commissioning Association and NCBC will allow me to continue learning from other experts and shape the future of commissioning and the building industry.
With the launch of our NCBC Blog, you will learn more in future posts about what the NCBC offers and how you can take advantage of the opportunity. Please keep checking in for helpful NCBC information (like the best places to eat in Nashville), the events surrounding NCBC, and even some ideas for how to get started on a commissioning career path.
Darren Draper, PE, LEED AP BD+C
Commissioning Department Manager