I did it. I survived my first conference in this industry, the 2014 ACI National Home Performance conference in Detroit.

When I joined The Energy Conservatory in June 2013 I was brand new to this industry. Before TEC I didn’t even know this industry existed, let alone what a blower door was. To help me learn all of this building science geekiness I decided to take BPI’s Building Science Principles course and exam. I read the book twice, and then took the exam, which I passed! I would highly recommend this to anyone new to the industry. It’s a great book, written in a language I understand, and there are lots of photos. Photos are a huge plus when learning something new.

Now that I’ve done the basic building science course it’s time to move onto the big dogs…the BPI Building Analyst training. I’m a little anxious about this, however I’m 99.9% certain I can do it. That is one of the reasons I went to the ACI conference in Detroit. I attended several sessions, only two of which were over my head. I found I did much better in the fundamental sessions, for obvious reasons. My favorite sessions were House as a System and Pressure Diagnostics 101 with Anthony Cox, Investigative Analysis of Difficult Homes with Joe Kuonen and Joe Medosch, House of Horrors with Joe Kuonen, Moisture 101 with David Keefe and Lstiburek on Moisture with Joe Lstiburek. Any time the House of Pressure was involved I couldn’t take me eyes off the house. I kept waiting to see what it was going to do next! That has got to be the coolest and best teaching tool I have ever seen. I’m patiently waiting for an opportunity to use it.

There are several reasons why I enjoyed those sessions. The presenters used words that I actually understood. These sessions were engaging and often times funny. These sessions left me thinking, “Ok. I think I get this now,” instead of, “I have no idea what I just heard, but I think it was in English.”

Since I am with TEC and TEC is a sustaining sponsor of ACI and an exhibitor I had to do more than just attend sessions. I also had to be at the booth at 7 a.m. and between sessions. I also needed to meet a lot of people. I communicate with people daily, either on the phone, via email or on social media. It was great to finally put faces to names and talk to people in person.  As fun as the conference was, it was also very exhausting, however I am excited to attend another one!

What still boggles my mind is that I had never heard of this industry until a year ago, when I interviewed with TEC. In college I majored in journalism and Earth science, and minored in meteorology. I’ve been interested in environmental issues and conservation since high school. I took several science classes in college, some of which focused on energy conservation and sustainability. Yet I never heard the term “building science” before. After college I even volunteered with Habitat for Humanity a few times, and even there I didn’t hear anything about this industry.

I find this industry to be quite intriguing, yet complex and challenging. I do love a good challenge though. Every day I learn something new, and some days I learn many things, At the ACI conference, for example, I learned a lot in just a few days, yet it wasn’t overwhelming. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn more, and all things considered, I am excited for the Building Analyst training.

Thank you to ACI for providing these learning and networking opportunities! There are so many wonderful and intelligent people in this industry, and having the opportunity to learn from them is awesome. If you haven’t made it to an ACI conference yet I highly recommend attending one.

Hope to see everyone again at another ACI conference soon!

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