I saw this quote on a bumper sticker the other day: "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step"
It's not a new quote to me but for some reason-perhaps because the weather was nearly 100 degrees (which is rare in Wisconsin)- I had a flashback to a Wednesday morning drive to work at Trane CDS, supporting TRACE 700 (it was a really hot summer)
At the time, I only had a month or so of experience and I remember having anxiety a few mornings on my way to work because I had realized that even though we did not make decisions for our customers, people were making BIG decisions based off of the energy-models that I had supported. I had yet to complete my Trane Graduate Training program, and while I was savvy enough to support TRACE 700, I wasn't fully educated on HVAC.
When you talk on the phone a lot (especially when you're waiting for TRACE 700 files to calculate), small-talk happens. Being in the middle of this ongoing LEED triangle, I had become aware of a few things:
The Design firm had a history of bad customer service with a certain manufacturer - Company X - and therefore wouldn't 'spec' Company X. However, the LEED consultant, including the energy-modeler was advising the Design Firm to spec Company X's equipment because it had worked well in past projects (for multiple LEED credits, not just LEED EAp2/EAc1)
To make the LEED-triangle a LEED-square, somehow on that Tuesday, Company X's sales rep started making calls. I naturally got the call and of course the Sales Rep had a copy of the TRACE 700 model and asked some questions about it. He was obviously growing impatient that he had not completed the sale. By his tone and his questions, it seemed he was trying to find a mistake in the TRACE 700 model and asked some questions of which I wasn't fully sure (because I was still pretty new) and I asked to get back to him the next day (which is why I was nervous on that hot Wednesday morning). My plan was to get permission to tell him the private details I knew (it’s the funny thing about privacy policies - they aren’t a two way street). While my lips were essentially bound, the salesman’s were not.
So here's the drama: the Design firm was aggravated about a number of things both unrelated and related to the energy-model and when the salesperson contacted them, he persisted to discuss the energy-model and only the energy model. The Design firm did mention that they were unhappy with the energy-modeler (chiefly because the entire LEED project was behind schedule).
Before I could call the Salesman back on that Wednesday, he had pulled a nasty and stupid move; he emailed the Design Firm and CC'd the energy-modeler (and myself). In his email, he basically questioned the energy-modeler’s competence, declaring that with certain changes, his product would get more LEED points in EAc1 (and wasn’t focused on the real barrier which was supposedly a history of customer service blunders).
Naturally the energy-modeler worked a little overtime, in order to save face and found an equivalent company and product, of which he easily pitched to his boss and the rest of the LEED Consulting team (it's not that hard to do! There are a lot of great products to choose from). To add another note, I did follow up on the questions with a colleague and we noted that the energy-model was quite good, though not perfect (what energy-model is?).
At the time, all of this made me nervous because I was very new to the world of energy-modeling, especially when there were millions of dollars at stake, which is the norm for commercial buildings.
I did quickly learn that the energy-modeler is central to the decision making process, especially if he or she is experienced. That means the energy-modeler has unprecedented purchasing power. I also learned that people focus heavily on energy savings and often have tunnel vision on EA credit 1, even though it isn’t the entirety of LEED and certainly not the only concern of the building owner/operator. In any case, the energy-modeler often ends up in the middle of conversations, and can help rectify a number of unusual situations.
Thus, I made sure to do my homework daily. I quickly learned not to be nervous because nobody should mess with a good energy-modeler.
Bob Fassbender graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in Chemical-Engineering. Following graduation, he spent 3 years working as a Marketing Engineer for Trane C.D.S. In the C.D.S. group, Bob developed and supported design and analysis software, primarily TRACE 700™. In addition to his development work, Bob also traveled around the country as a TRACE 700™ and System Analyzer™ instructor. Bob is also an experienced user with eQUEST energy modeling software. Today, Bob continues training and energy modeling as a LEED accredited professional (with a focus on LEED EA credit 1).
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