Member Spotlight: Sam Myers
The Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) dives inside the career of Sam Myers, Building Scientist f0r Retrotec in Wilmington, NC. 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.
Sam Myers is a building scientist for Retrotec where he teaches building performance concepts at conferences and training events, conducts field studies, and assists Retrotec with new product designs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the industry’s conferences and tradeshows have been moved to online platforms. To keep providing the industry with quality educational material, Sam built a virtual training lab at his home where he has taught and trained contractors and consultants all over the world.
Sam has also spent several years as a building scientist with Advanced Energy — one of the most respected efficiency consultancies in North America — where he managed field operations for building performance programs and served housing developers that included Habitat for Humanity. He holds a Master’s of Science degree from East Carolina University, is a certified HERS Rater, and is a licensed real estate broker. Sam lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Name: Sam Myers
Title: Building Scientist
City: Wilmington, NC
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue your profession as a building scientist?
A: I first began my adventure into building performance when I was pursuing my Master’s degree at East Carolina University. I managed an EPA funded project aimed to determine how vacation rental homes on the NC Outer Banks consume energy when compared to traditional single-family homes. I realized the importance of this type of work and have been working in the industry ever since. I enjoy knowing that my work has a positive impact on those around me. Prior to my time at Retrotec, I worked as a Building Scientist at Advanced Energy; an energy efficiency research and consulting firm in Raleigh, NC.
Is there anything that you believe everyone in this industry should be working towards?
A: That’s a tough question because everyone in this industry has their reasons for doing the work they do. For me, it was working in a career that provides a positive impact on our environment, economy, and the quality of life of others. Some people in our industry may be more passionate about one of those three items than the others, however we are all working toward the same goal regardless. So I guess my answer would be to keep working to make better buildings mainstream. And keep learning. There are always new process, materials, and perspectives to discover. And remember the issues that made you passionate about building performance in the first place.
What role have peers, mentors, or advisors played in your career?
A: I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance and education I have received from those I have worked with. From my formal education to my work in the field, I have been fortunate to have so many talented colleagues and mentors in my path to help me grow and learn.
What led you to become an ABAA member?
A: Our customers are doing some of them most impressive work out there when it comes to improving the buildings we live and work in. ABAA provides top tier resources, events, and learning opportunities that help us move the industry forward. I couldn’t imagine our team not being a part of ABAA and the important work they do.
Are you involved in any ABAA committees? Do you have any ABAA certifications?
A: Currently I am on the ABAA technical committee and the State of Washington Working group.
How long have you been in the industry?
A: I have been in the building performance industry for 10 very fast years. I look forward to what the next 10 will bring.
What major changes have you seen?
A: It has been great to see more and more states adopt air tightness requirements in both the commercial and residential industries, but we still have a long way to go. The results from building tests and occupant testimonials from building retrofits are important to keep collecting and sharing to keep moving things forward.
What traits or skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in your industry?
A: I think there is a place for everyone in this industry. Whether you are on construction sites installing air sealing and insulation products or doing air tightness tests, or back at the office reviewing building plans or developing a test plan for a new project. There is also a lot of outreach and marketing to be done. It takes a village of all types of work to move this industry along.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out in your field?
A: Be patient. There is a lot to learn. Take one topic at a time. And think about the areas you are most passionate about. Where do you want to make an impact? Also work on building your industry network. Go to events, learn from those who have been doing this for a long time, and meet as many people as you can.
How much demand do you think there is for people in your profession?
A: I think there is a massive demand for this type of work right now. We can tell that our customers who are doing air tightness testing are busier than ever. Not only in new construction, but in existing buildings as well. Whether if it is energy consumption or a humidity issue, building owners and occupants are looking for experts to help them solve their problems.
What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten years’ time?
A: Over the next decade, our industry will continue to grow and become more mainstream. Both the US and Canadian governments have their sites set on improving both our existing building stock and standards for new construction. My favorite thing about the building performance field is there are multiple benefits to the work we do. High quality building envelopes make buildings more durable, comfortable, healthier, and efficient. If a building is having an issue, the symptom is typically one or more of those four items and the source of the pain likely lives in the building shell.