Solving Problems

I know it’s not a novel concept, but it was a valuable life lesson for me when, years ago, I worked for an editorial director who wasn’t interested in hearing problems unless I was able to provide a solution. That lesson has served me well since—professionally and personally.

For example, it’s ironic that I live along the southernmost natural glacial lake in the U.S. when I hate water because of a childhood pool accident. Despite my attempts to avoid it, water continues to haunt me. (See one of my blog posts for some background.) Although it’s mid-December as I write this column, my Iowa town just received 5 inches of rain in a day and a half. Our basement—where my office is located—is flooded. My husband bought the house (which he planned to make his lifelong bachelor pad) knowing the basement might leak during heavy-rain events. He never planned to have anything down there. Then I came along.

Times like these don’t just substantiate my negative feelings toward water, they put my “finding solutions” training to use. They also make me grateful I am part of the design and construction industry because finding a solution is so much easier. I reached out to an architect friend who remodels basements in the Midwest. After some Q&A, my friend provided suggestions and recommended contractors, which I took to my husband. Fortunately, a basement waterproofing company is coming next week to inspect and propose a solution to our water dilemma.

I love having the opportunity to champion the leaders in this industry who are solving problems and improving the buildings in which we live and work. I especially love when these leaders also are making a positive impact in the world. In this issue, for example, I was amazed by the efforts of Washington, D.C.-based Transitional Housing Corp. (THC), a non-profit whose goal is to end family homelessness by 2020. Despite a 12 percent cost increase compared to a typical gut renovation, the organization retrofitted three abandoned multifamily buildings to provide low- or no-cost utility bills to the low-income families who now live in them. In “Multifamily”, Louisa Hart writes: “THC’s primary motivation … was to provide more stable, resilient, comfortable housing options for low-income families. The owner’s representatives believed retrofitting all three buildings rather than just one would allow them to help 36 families rather than just 12 for only a marginal upfront cost increase.”

In “Energy”, Yann Palmore explains how an athletic apparel manufacturer partnered with an energy-management solutions provider to uncover ways in which it could save energy at its headquarters. The provider connected the campus’ existing meters with its technology to wirelessly send energy data to the provider’s software platform. The manufacturer had real-time energy data within an hour. Palmore explains: “The energy-management solutions provider’s technology identified a potential 11 percent in savings at this location alone—amounting to $125,000. Seeing this success, the company is working with the energy-management solutions provider to implement its energy-monitoring solutions at other properties in the manufacturer’s portfolio around the country.”

In addition, this is our third-annual Top 50 Products issue, which celebrates the products that received the most reader inquiries from previous issues. We asked the manufacturers to share case studies about how their top products solved a problem or achieved the desired result within a retrofit. Although many of the Top 50 are fairly new, a few manufacturers were able to share retrofit projects in which their top products were specified.

We hope these articles and products help solve retrofitting dilemmas you may be having, just as I hope our flooded basement soon will be a funny memory from our first year of marriage.

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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