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21 Building science experts you ought to know in 2019

21 Building science experts you ought to know in 2019

Today we’re dropping 21 building science experts you ought to know.

I know the latest exploits of the Kardashian clan have your attention 24/7, but if you can tear yourself away from the E Network, we’re dropping 21 building science experts you ought to follow instead. From builders to engineers, educators to policy promotors, here’s the list of people we’re learning from and keeping our eye on.

1) Steven Baczek

Steve Baczek

Baczek is a nationally recognized architect who contributes daily to the pursuit of better building.

He has designed and developed custom residential structures for over 26 years. Notable projects include a handful of Passive Homes, including the Nation’s first Certified Passive House Retrofit under Enerfit, numerous Zero Energy Homes and Retrofits, and many Deep Energy Retrofits.

If that wasn’t enough, he is the author of over 1,000 details for Green Building Advisor. He can also be found at various conferences around the country, talking and sharing his knowledge on the bridge of architecture and sound building science. 

I’m particularly a fan of following him on LinkedIn and Instagram. On both platforms, Baczek offers expert advice in practical terms.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

2) Allison Bailes III

allison bailes

Bailes is the Chief Troublemaker (founder) of Energy Vanguard. Energy Vanguard offers consulting, training, quality assurance, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system design. RESNET accredits it as a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) QA and training provider.

In the spirit of making every home into a high-performance home, Bailes updates the Energy Vanguard blog almost twice a week. The blow features high-quality, educational content that reads as if a human wrote it (no offense to most engineers). I highly encourage you to check it out.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

3) Cody Akira Belton

Cody Akira Belton

Hailing out of the Great White North is Belton, founder and principal of Akira Living. He is a project manager and building consultant providing design support and energy modeling services for Passive House projects.

Cody is a Certified Passive House Designer/Consultant (CPHD), Professional Technologist (PTech) and Applied Science Technologist (AScT) with the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC).

During his time at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Cody was the recipient of the ASTTBC Achievement Award for academic excellence in the area of architectural and building engineering.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

4) Chris Benedict R. A. (CBRA)

Chris benedict

Benedict is regarded internationally as a leading expert in the field of sustainable building design.

While many architects learn how to follow sustainable guidelines; CBRA’s work over the past 20 years has formed the foundation for those guidelines. Her work has innovated vital building systems and construction techniques and changed code and laws to allow affordable delivery of high-performance buildings.

Follow her on LinkedIn.

5) Lena Burkett

Lena Burkett

Burkett works to improve residential energy efficiency at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In that role, Burkett is charged with providing technical research management for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building America program, which funds research in residential building science.

She’s working to advance technologies and building practices to improve the energy efficiency, resiliency and comfort of homes in the U.S.

According to Builder Magazine, Burkett works by one primary goal, to “cut every American’s utility bill in half.” The phrase is written on a Post-It note on her office wall.

Follow her on LinkedIn.

6) Thiel Butner

Thiel Butner

Butner is the managing partner for Pando Alliance, a firm that provides expert green building certification services and consultation, with a focus on multi-family projects.

At Pando, Thiel and her colleagues work with builders, architects, developers and owners from the planning phase, providing project reviews and recommending green certification programs that fit the client’s budget and jurisdictional requirements.

She entered the industry as an AmeriCorps*VISTA in Construction Development at Habitat for Humanity not too long ago. There she facilitated their transition to building ENERGY STAR Certified Homes for low-income homebuyers.

She holds credentials as a LEED for Homes Green Rater, BPI Building Analyst & Envelope Professional and PHIUS+ Rater. 

Follow her on LinkedIn.

7) Karla Butterfield

Karla Butterfield

With over 25 years of experience, Butterfield brings a wealth of information to any discussion about sustainability high-performance, energy-efficient building.

As the Sustainability Director at Steven Winter Associates, Inc. Butterfield works with architects, developers, builders and homeowners to identify and implement sustainable strategies for new construction and renovations.

Butterfield is a Home Innovation Research Labs’ NGBS Verifier, PHIUS +Rater and +Verifier, and promoter of Net Zero Energy Homes. She uses energy modeling software to analyze plans and specifications and makes recommendations for sustainability strategies.

Even in her free time, you can find Butterfield promoting environmentally friendly construction. She is a member of the Connecticut Green Building Council and the North American Zero Energy Coalition. She also serves the National Green Building Standard as a TA Advisor & 2018 Consensus Committee member.

Follow her on LinkedIn.

8) Jordan Dentz

Jordan Dentz

Dentz is the vice president of The Levy Partnerships, Inc., a research and consulting firm specializing in building performance and energy efficiency with an active Passive House practice including design and field testing.

With more than 20 years consulting as a technical advisor, he’s picked up a few things (we’re talking certifications). Dentz is a Certified Passive House Consultant and RESNET certified Home Energy Rater. He was a member of the NAHB/ICC Consensus Committee that developed the National Green Building Standard.

He’s continuing to have an impact on building code in the United States to this day. Dentz is a senior project manager for the ARIES Collaborative, one of the research teams that comprise the DOE’s Building America program; and for the Systems Building Research Alliance, the research arm of the modular and manufactured home industry.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

9) M. Steven Doggett

M. Steven Doggett

Doggett is the founder of Built Environments, Inc. and currently serves as its president and principal scientist.

He has over 20 years of experience with environmental consulting, building forensics and building envelope design. Much of his work has focused on moisture control and mitigating the risks associated with moisture degradation.

I always especially impressed and entertained by his examination of moisture and material or system failure in the field and simulations on LinkedIn. It’s detailed, doesn’t hold back any punches (very scientific) and provides the expert opinion you’re looking for.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

10) Hamid Heidarali

Hamid Heidarali

Heidarali is a building science consultant and founder of Hamid Design Build. He has a passion for high performance, durable buildings that minimize their impact on the environment while providing a superior experience for their occupants.

With that passion, Heidarali has provided his expertise to a wide range of construction projects including “Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability” (CIRS), BC Place Stadium, Vancouver Salt Building and UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Building.

Heidarali is also a part-time instructor at BCIT and teaches building envelope courses to masters students as part of the Building Science Graduate Program. 

Follow him on LinkedIn.

11) Martin Holladay

Martin Holladay

As senior editor of Fine Homebuilding and Green Building Advisor, Holladay has a pulse on the green construction industry. His Musings of an Energy Nerd column on the Green Building Advisor website reviews products, processes and trends within energy-efficient residential construction.

Holladay has over 40 years of support for the green construction industry under his belt. He built his first passive-solar house in northern Vermont in 1974.  

Follow him on LinkedIn.

12) Nathan Kahre

Nathan Kahre

Kahre is the High-Performance, Healthy Homes Manager for Thrive Home Builders. The self-proclaimed “energy nerd” handles the design specification and implementation of anything related to energy efficiency and indoor air quality for Thrive Builders.

Thrive Builders built its first net-zero home in 2009 and is one of a handful of production builders in the U.S. focused on such a high level of energy efficiency. In 2018, all 250 of its production homes were DOE Zero Energy Ready, certified to the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS program, and built to LEED standards, according to Builder Magazine.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

13) Joe Lstiburek

Joe Lstiburek

When I first entered the building envelope industry, people told me I needed to follow Joe Lstiburek and they were right.

Described as “the dean of North American building science” by the Wall Street Journal, Lstiburek is an adjunct professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto. Joe is also a sought-after speaker and a prolific writer, publishing a variety of books and papers on the practical application of building science.

I recommend following his work at the Building Science Corporation, which he is a founding principle of. If long-form papers aren’t your thing, you can always catch his witty and informative insights on LinkedIn.

Lstiburek might be most famous for his “Perfect Wall” concept. The Perfect Wall has the rainwater control layer, air control layer, vapor control layer and thermal control layer on the exterior of the building. Crazy idea, right?

Joe Lstiburek's Perfect Wall Building Science Expert Idea from Building Science Corporation

Not as much as you might think. Learn more about the Perfect Wall concept in Lstiburek’s own words here.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

14) Ed May

Ed May

May is a partner at bldgtyp, LLC., is a licensed architect, LEED Green Associate and Passive House Designer (PHI).

What makes him stand out besides those impressive credentials? He is dedicated to the promotion of the Passive House Standard and educating building professionals about building energy efficient.

May has been an Adjunct Professor at Parsons the NewSchool University as well an Industry Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, where he directed the 2015 ‘Solar Decathlon’ program. May also teaches at the Passive House Academy, the North American Passive House Network and Passive House Canada.

I’m also a big fan of his contributions to Passive House Accelerator, an excellent resource for newbies and pros learning about Passive House, lessons learned in the field, news, etc.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

15) Ryan Meres

Ryan Meres

Meres is the program director at RESNET. His top task is to increase the number of HERS-rated homes in the U.S. above the current rate of 200,000 a year. He is also responsible for leading efforts to implement the RESNET’S HERS H20 whole house water efficiency standard and get water and energy efficiency valued in real estate property evaluations. 

With more than two dozen case studies, white papers and reports accredited to his name; Meres is an active player in the evaluation and promotion of energy efficiency standards and policies in the U.S.

Meres is also a somewhat active contributor to Builder Magazine. To find a list of his articles, you can visit this link to his bio page.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

16) Matt Risinger

Matt Risinger

Risinger has been a builder for 20 years and specializes in architect-driven work.

Construction beginners and professionals tune into Matt Risinger’s The Build Show on YouTube to learn about building science, craftsmanship and best practices for new construction and renovations. He is an expert at making complex ideas simple and easy to understand.

Join the channel’s other 415,000 YouTube subscribers to get notified when the latest episode drops. You can expect a new episode twice a week. Can’t wait that long? Follow him on any of the social media channels (we’re personally big fans of his Instagram).

Follow him on LinkedIn.

17) Nick Schiffer

Nick Schiffer

Schiffer is the owner of NS Builders and a general contractor specializing in design-build custom renovations and homes. NS Builders custom builds all their millwork in-house and has grown to be one of the most sought after high-end custom builders in less than five years in the Boston area. 

You might be saying to yourself, custom, craftsmanship – all cool – but what does that have to do with building science?

That same drive and focus on performance and quality is seen in all stages his renos and new builds.

In the Boston market, you have all that New England charm and all its outdated building woes. Schiffer and his team make sure to bring in high-performance, quality materials and craftsmanship to each project. Schiffer stands out because he shares the wealth of his knowledge and encourages everyone to go to the next level on their build with his following on Instagram and his podcast The Modern Craftsman. Highly entertaining and worth a listen.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

18) John Straube

John Straube

If you’re building commercial properties in cold climates, John Straube wrote the book for you.

High-Performance Enclosures: Design Guide for Institutional, Commercial and Industrial Buildings in Cold Climates” guides architects and building enclosure engineers working to meet the growing need for buildings that have significantly lower operational energy consumption.

When he is not writing, you can find John teaching as an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. There he teaches courses in structural design, material science and building science.

If that wasn’t enough of a resume, Straube is also a Principal, Sr. Building Science Specialist at RDH Building Science. He is an international expert in moisture-related durability issues.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

19) Kohta Ueno

Kohta Ueno

Ueno’s work is one-part CSI, two parts building science for great results. At the Building Science Corporation, Ueno conducts forensic field investigations of building failures and consulting work for new and retrofit construction in the design of building enclosures and mechanical systems.

When he is not doing that, you’ll likely find him talking at academic and industry conferences such as the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) Buildings Conference. He’s also spoken at the Energy & Environmental Building Alliance’s (EEBA) Excellence in Building Conference, the Passive House Conference and the Boston Societies of Architects’ Architecture Boston Expo (to name a few).

Follow him on LinkedIn.

20) Christine Williamson

Christine Cronin (Williamson)

Williamson teaches building science and construction to architects, developers, contractors, and other professionals in the building industry.

She began her career working for architect Chris Benedict in New York City where she performed blower door tests on gut-rehabs in Harlem and Washington Heights and assisted in the design of one of the first multi-family Passive Houses in the United States. Now, she has taken her talents to the Building Science Corporation, where she reviews drawings and makes recommendations that promote appropriate water control, air control, energy efficiency, constructability, and durability. 

Williamson is Chair of ASHRAE Technical Committee 1.12, Moisture Management in Buildings, and is a member of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA). 

She is the founder of Building Science Fight Club, one of my all-time favorite Instagram accounts dedicated to teaching building science and construction to architects and other building industry professionals. I highly recommend you check it out and hit follow.

Follow her on LinkedIn.

21) Peter Yost

Peter Yost

In a list of building science experts who seem to have endless bandwidth for promoting better building, Yost seems to spend every waking moment going that extra mile.

Yost has provided building science expertise to nationally recognized organizations moving the high-performance industry forward, including, but not limited to:

  • US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes and REGREEN
  • Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense
  • Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building America
  • International WELL Building Institute programs

He is also a lecturer for Yale’s graduate program in Forestry & Environmental Studies, Technical Director for the web-based Green Building Advisor, and an adjunct lecturer with the University of Massachusetts Department of Building Construction and Technology program.

A LEED AP, he is a past co-chair of the USGBC’s LEED for Homes program, and a certified instructor/course author for the NAHB Advanced Green Building: Building Science certificate program. 

You can find his impressive list of contributions and services on his company’s (Building Wright) website.

Follow him on LinkedIn.

And there you have it.

These are 21 building science experts who are contributing to the high-performance building industry through a variety of talents and means. Did we miss anyone? Leave a comment below! We want to know who you are paying attention to.

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Avatar for Jessica Kumor

Jessica Kumor

Jessica is SIGA North America's Content Marketing Manager. It's her job to deliver you the latest research and practical tips for building air and weathertight buildings. When she's not interviewing customers and posting about building science you can find her refinishing furniture.

2 comments

  • Truly honored to be a part of this list of building science experts.

    Akira Living partners with Builders & Architects to deliver high-performance homes & Passive House projects with customized building enclosure detail packages making both design & construction more affordable.