In 1979, at age 24, I became a distributor of solar domestic hot water systems. People asked if we could heat their homes, so in 1983, I joined a company that was installing geothermal heat pumps.
It became apparent that we were installing expensive heating and cooling systems on poorly insulated homes, and insulation was cheaper!
In 1987 I ran across a company focused on insulation and HVAC design. We caulked framing, closed crawlspaces and tried to install perfect fiberglass batts; ran heating and cooling loads on the improved thermal envelopes and designed smaller, more appropriate heating/cooling systems with sealed ductwork.
That year I was introduced to “Building Science” and moisture management by Joe Lstiburek and Ken Gehring, founder of ThermaStor; and Pressure Diagnostics by Gary Nelson from TEC. I bought a Minneapolis Blower Door and my study of Home Performance began.
In the 1990’s the housing bubble was beginning to inflate here in the Triangle, and I was fortunate enough to have my services picked up by some of the area’s leading architects and builders. I would consult with the architects regarding effective enclosure details and integrate an Air Distribution System within the structure, then help supervise everything effecting envelope or HVAC installation while my own company insulated the building.
The homes kept getting bigger and more complex—some 10 and 20,000 sf, with home theaters, wine cellars, indoor spas and pools. One of my early homes actually had a Stuart Portrait of George Washington in the living room above an indoor pool! Thirty years later I’m relieved to report no mold on George’s face.
I also had the opportunity to provide my services for commercial and institutional projects: County offices, several buildings for The Carolina Friends School including a gym we had to construct within an existing metal building; the Faculty Club at Duke University; restaurants, churches, medical buildings and a very sophisticated professional recording studio.
We bumped into Historic homes along the way, too, respectfully hoping to give some another 200 years! We turned a barn into a home, with a log cabin for the Master Bedroom. We turned a chicken coop into a yoga studio. We interfaced often with structural engineers and interior designers, occasionally acoustical engineers, and of course builders, framers, mechanical installers and insulators. And, of course, the architects and owners!
In 2004, EQC enlisted the help of Advanced Energy to write and administer an Energy Conservation and Healthy Building program for Meadowmont, which at the time was the largest mixed use development in the history of Chapel Hill. We specified insulation and HVAC systems; then managed, inspected and tested hundreds of homes, townhomes, apartments and our second retirement community as they were constructed rather quickly by dozens of independent general and sub-contractors and their crews.
Over the last thirty years, EQC has helped design and construct buildings totaling more than 5 million square feet of insulated and conditioned space, in the Southeast and as far away as Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, and the North Shore of Oahu. I have helped diagnose and resolve countless comfort complaints, mold problems, indoor air quality issues and other HVAC or moisture related building failures from the Blue Ridge to the Outer Banks, Philadelphia and the Hudson Valley.
I continue to keep up with the latest Building Science, reading and attending many multi-day conferences. Our experience spans from concept to completion. A well-conceived and thoroughly designed home, with the work properly supervised and executed, will be a remarkably healthy, comfortable, and affordable dwelling.
It will prove to be a good value and a good investment far into the future.