Member Spotlight: Heather Beaudoin
Now and then we highlight one of our members and ask them to share with our community insights about themselves, their careers and the present and future state of energy simulation as they see it.
This month's Member Spotlight is Heather Beaudoin, professional engineer (PE) at Grumman/Butkus Associates. Her work focuses on energy studies, energy modeling, and sustainability. She has been a Chicago-IBPSA board member since 2013 and was board president in 2016-2017. In addition she has earned many industry accreditations including LEED AP BD+C, Certified Energy Manager (CEM), and ASHRAE Building Energy Modeling Professional (BEMP).
Grumman/Butkus Associates is an engineering firm made up of outstanding professionals committed to state-of-the-art engineering with an emphasis on sustainability. G/BA’s goal is to exceed expectations by transforming challenges into opportunities (for instance, solving a ventilation problem while improving indoor air quality, or replacing failing equipment while reducing operating costs). Each project is viewed as an opportunity for exercising creative problem-solving. G/BA's staff is not content to simply address a problem with a predictable course of action. Rather, our staff looks at each project with fresh eyes and forward-looking creativity, building on past experience. G/BA is committed to engineering excellence, attentive service, and continued growth, all with sustainability principles as our guide.
IBPSA-USA: What about BEM is exciting to you and matters?
I think that it is exciting to work in a field that allows me to make an impact on building energy usage. It is important to me that the work that I do helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to the fight against climate change.
IBPSA-USA: What do you think the biggest areas of growth of BEM will be in the near future and what are you doing about it?
One area of growth is in early design modeling and modeling at various design stages. ASHRAE 209P provides a framework for this that I hope will lead to a greater prioritization of energy savings throughout the design process. To really reduce building energy usage to where it needs to be for net zero and better buildings we can't wait to complete a compliance model and see how much energy is saved. We are looking for tools and software that make the process of creating early design models more efficient so we can get results to design teams faster.
IBPSA-USA: What is your expertise and give some examples of how you have helped your customers in the past?
My professional experience includes energy studies and design in addition to energy modeling. When I am doing an energy study I am usually looking at existing buildings and equipment. I get to see how things really operate. Designing building systems allows for a different perspective and you are exposed to the constraints of the design process. I incorporate these perspectives into my work on energy models. This helps me evaluate inputs and better understand outputs.
IBPSA-USA: Tell us about how you came to work in BEM.
I have been interested in energy since high school and it's one of the reasons I went to engineering school. During graduate school I worked doing energy audits. We would occasionally use simple energy models to estimate energy savings. I then went to work for an architecture and engineering firm where I started modeling new construction buildings. LEED was pretty new at this point and was the impetus for many of the models. But I also began to work on energy models during the early phases of design which allowed me to have an even greater impact on design.