Member Spotlight: Meghan McDermott
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Meghan McDermott, President/CEO of High Performance Building Solutions, Inc. in Charlotte, NC. In this feature interview, learn what made her become an ABAA member, what led her on her career path, and get her perspective on the future of the air barrier industry.
Ms. McDermott is one of the co-owners and conducts building energy assessments, energy modeling, energy conservation savings calculations and building diagnostics. She has spent the over 10 years managing various building envelope projects from the construction of new 250,000 square foot buildings to the renovations of 5,000 square foot projects. She conducts large building and multi-zone building air leakage tests on a regular basis for commercial and industrial projects of all sizes. Ms. McDermott is a licensed commercial contractor in the state of North Carolina and routinely manages multiple weatherization and repair projects to solve the root cause of building envelope failures. She is a Level II thermographer for buildings and roofs as well as electrical applications. Ms. McDermott graduated with Honors from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering with a concentration in Energy.
Name: Meghan McDermott
Title: President/CEO (Building Enclosure Commissioning Provider)
Firm: High Performance Building Solutions, Inc.
City: Charlotte, NC
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue your profession as a building enclosure commissioning provider ?
A: I graduated college with a degree in Architectural Engineering and went to work for a company that specialized in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Quickly I learned how important the building enclosure was to the overall performance of the building and became involved with building diagnostics. The problem-solving aspect of the diagnostic work really intrigued me and eventually I found my self frustrated with the continual problems I was seeing over and over and I wanted to get involved with preventing the problems and started working on new construction projects which led me to Building Enclosure Commissioning.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: Too often I find a disconnect between the design and field – I feel that the industry should be working towards more hands on training and vocational classes not just a multi-year college degree full of classroom learning and not practical application.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: My mentors and advisors have assisted me throughout my career by providing insight into historic building science problems I was not aware of. These same mentors and advisors have consistently encouraged me to pursue additional certifications and to take as many continuing education courses as I possibly can to grow my knowledge base.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: ABAA is the only certification program in the country to certify and train installers regardless of manufacturer. For years there was no consistence in the industry and ABAA provides that much needed consistence.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: ABAA QAP Inspector, ABAA Technical Committee for Air Leakage Testing and ABAA Certification Committee
How long have you been in the industry?
A: 13 years
What major changes have you seen?
A: I have seen the construction industry go from not knowing what an air barrier is to actually specifying an air barriers and understanding their importance in the overall building envelope assembly. This is such an important step in the right direction but more education is still required to get the air barrier installed correctly every time.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: Attention to details. So often I find little things that are overlooked that can cause big problems if not addressed properly, such as missing end dams or not continuously installing the air barrier system at material transitions.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Never give up, if you don’t know the answer keep researching or asking until you find the answer. The answer is out there you just might have to dig to find it or call multiple people to find it.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: There is a huge demand for people in this field with experience related to building envelopes and air barriers. Building failures related to the envelope continues to cost the construction industry millions of dollars a year and the best way to reduce that cost is to spend the time and money up front to keep those problems from happening by employing a building envelope professional or consultant on the new construction and major renovation projects.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten years’ time?
A: My hope is that in five or ten years (5 years would be ideal) the construction industry and design professionals have embraced building enclosure commissioning/consulting on every project to ensure a properly and correctly functioning envelope that will reduce the need to repairs after the building is completed.