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35: How to Put Building Science to Work | Monica Rokicki | Better Building Works

Be Inspired | Do Good:

Monica Rokicki is passionate about architecture and every story she shared from growing up in Chicago to her company, Better Building Works, shows this. As the owner, she currently holds various building performing certificates, serves as a Board Member of the Greater Virginia Green Building Council, and is Immediate Past chair for the ten-state USGBC Southeast Regional Committee.

Monica has always been a leader of sorts and had the drive to do more in life. She was the oldest of nine children in the suburbs of Chicago. Her first architecture project was to transform a tree-covered hill into the perfect sledding hill. She brought all her neighbors together to clear trees, rocks, and other debris that prevented them from sledding. When it started to get cold, she suggested adding water to the hill to create a more slippery surface. All of their work made this into the perfect sledding hill that continued for a mile if the right path was chosen. After the winter, the hill turned into a mud pit where nothing would grow, creating an eyesore. This inspired Monica to pursue a career as an architect so she could have both the perfect sled run and a beautiful hill.

When she moved to Roanoke, she became the Director of Architecture and Sustainability at Balzer and Associates. She enjoyed the work but was told by her supervisor that she was running the office like her own business, which inspired her to open Better Building Works in 2011. In her company, she seeks to put building science to work for existing and new businesses. (Building science means building bridges between silos like engineering, occupant health and safety, and beauty, which are previously thought of as separate components.) She also does energy audits and energy modeling to figure out how to come up with the best and simplest solution for a building in order to get a high return on investment and have better healthy and safety, performance, and be beautiful.

One of Monica’s biggest challenges of owning a business is learning to become a leader. It is nearly impossible to stop a business to obtain a degree in leadership so she started working with Lynda Foster of Cortex Leadership Consulting to further her knowledge about leading and increase the skills of her teams.

 

From the Better Building Works blog:

How to Fix Indoor Air Quality

The first step to improving indoor air quality is to have a building performance assessment or energy audit conducted at your business or home by a qualified energy auditor. A performance assessment and energy audit should always be about more than just electric and gas usage, they should also include health and safety checks. Qualified energy auditors are able to identify areas where the air is infiltrating from the outside and also if too little outside air is coming into the building and trapping stale air inside. The qualified auditor will also test to ensure there is proper ventilation in bathrooms to reduce humidity levels and the probability of mold growth. Under many circumstances, your building should be tested for radon. This test generally takes either 2 or 90 days depending on the specific type of test conducted and will identify whether or not additional measures are required. One of the quickest and most inexpensive ways to improve indoor air quality is changing or cleaning HVAC filters regularly. This should be on the maintenance staff’s regular work plan and included in routine home maintenance (monthly at a minimum, in most instances). In some cases, the addition of air filters or purifiers to clean incoming outdoor air is also warranted. Finally, eliminate the sources of air pollution being brought into the building by buying low or no VOC paints, finishes, pesticides, cleaning and printing products and not smoking inside or within 25 feet of the building at the exterior. These steps will help keep indoor air cleaner. Being proactive will help improve the quality of the indoor air you, your employees and your family breathe which can improve people’s health and your bottom line.

 

LINKS AND RESOURCES FROM THIS EPISODE:

Better Building Works website

Call Monica: 540-345-0900

 

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