Member Spotlight: Jeremy Seltzer
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Jeremy Seltzer, Enclosure Department Manager for TAM Consultants Inc., A Terracon Company in Williamsburg, VA. In this feature interview, learn what made him become an ABAA member, what led him on his career path, and get his perspective on the future of the air barrier industry.
Jeremy Seltzer, Associate AIA
Jeremy Seltzer graduated third in his class with the distinction of Magna Cum Laude, from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Architecture in 2002. He works out of the Williamsburg office and heads up the Enclosure Group for TAM Consultants, a Terricon Company, serving as a mentor and resource for all air barrier testing and enclosure related issues.
Jeremy worked as a project manager and designer for 12 years in two multi-discipline architecture and design firms before bringing his considerable knowledge and skills to TAM Consultants. He has become a certified field auditor for the Air Barrier Association of America and served in the role of Designer, Inspector, Project Manager, Technical Specialist, Commercial Roofing Consultant and Inspector and Construction Administration.
Jeremy’s experience covers a wide range of both public and private projects of varying types and sizes. Project types include commercial, residential, historical, civic, restaurant, parks and recreation, amusement parks, green buildings, universities, fire stations, public schools, retirement, medical and hospital facilities.
Name: Jeremy Seltzer
Title: Enclosure Department Manager
Firm: TAM Consultants Inc., A Terracon Company
City: Williamsburg, VA
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession as a consultant?
A: I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Architecture and pursued that dream for 12 years after graduation. Unfortunately, I was one of the many people laid off during the great recession, however I was very fortunate to be quickly hired by my current employer as a Building Enclosure Consultant and I’ve never looked back.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: I believe everyone in this industry must diligently be pursuing the knowledge of how buildings are constructed. Materials, methods and the science of building construction are always evolving and changing. I rarely make it a day without learning some new construction method or building product.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: I’ve been very very fortunate throughout my career to have had some excellent coworkers, clients, bosses along the way that have shaped my ability to better do my job and have been instrumental in getting me to where I am.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Well that’s an interesting story. Reference above where I mentioned that I was laid off during the recession. I had just been hired by my current employer and the owner, Tim Mills, tells me the first week I started that I would be flying to Chicago with him later that week to attend the ABAA Conference. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about or what ABAA was at the time, but of course was thrilled to be traveling to Chicago during my first week. From being laid off the previous week, to jet-setting to Chicago the following week! What I didn’t realize was that I’d be sitting in a classroom learning how to be an Auditor and having to pass a test! I might’ve missed that finer point during the excitement. During those few days at the ABAA Conference I was introduced to an entire industry that I really didn’t know much about, met some great people who I’m still friends with, got to spend some time touring the city, and most importantly passed my Auditor Training Test!
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: I am not on any ABAA committees currently and only have the Licensed Field Auditor Certification.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: 20+ years.
What major changes have you seen?
A: When I graduated college air barriers weren’t even a thing in building construction and weather barriers were mostly still felt papers and this new guy on the block, Tyvek. Nowadays air barriers are a requirement in the Building Code and and we have more options than we can count for air/vapor/ weather barriers with new ones coming on the market regularly.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: You can’t be afraid to ask questions. You must have a love for learning how buildings are constructed and an ability to think outside of the box to come up with unique solutions and details. The job often involves working outside in challenging conditions, so you should have a love for the outdoors and getting hands-on with projects. One thing I was unprepared for was how often I find myself giving clients bad news. Whether it’s telling them a particular detail wasn’t constructed right, or that their building has some type of system failure that’s going to cost a lot of money to fix, or that their building isn’t actually leaking, but it’s the cat doing its business in the basement instead of the litter box (true story, THAT was an interesting conversation!). You definitely have to have the ability to communicate to clients effectively, both in person and with written reports.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: One of the most important things I’ve learned along the way in this industry is the ability to admit when you don’t know something to a client or coworker. This can be really tough, especially in an industry where you’re expected to be and paid to be the expert. But it never hurts to ask questions, gather information and let someone know that while you may not have the answer right now, you will do everything you can to get them the answer they’re looking for, even if that answer may not be the one that they necessarily want or expect.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: There is a definitely a demand for people in my profession and it’s honestly pretty tough to find and recruit people to be a Building Enclosure Consultant. It’s not a profession that shows up on a list of careers for people to pursue coming out of high school or college. But, it’s an industry that’s tailor made for those seeking degrees in architecture, engineering and building construction. The other thing that I’ve learned after going through both a recession and this current pandemic is that this industry has been pretty resilient through both of those events. I was hired during the recession, and our company has actually grown during the pandemic. During the recession, even though there wasn’t as much new construction occurring, clients were focusing on repairing and prolonging the life of their existing buildings which often meant addressing long overdue building maintenance issues such as roof repairs and chronic building leaks, all of which require our expertise. During the pandemic building construction was considered an essential service so we were fortunate in that regard. After the pandemic I think there is going to be a huge demand in the Health Care Industry and in retrofitting commercial office space. With COVID being an airborne virus, it has brought to the forefront how important indoor air quality is and the ability to control and filter it. That starts with a properly designed building envelope that controls air leakage so the demand for our industry will only increase.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten years’ time?
A: Buildings continue to become more and more complex and we’re now starting to see more of a push for BECx commissioning and testing services being required for building envelope systems. I would expect to see a requirement in the International Building Code for special inspections during construction for building envelope systems similar to what is currently required for Agent 1 and Agent 2 Special Inspections.