Could you tell us a little bit more about your professional background in the industry?
For 35 years I worked in the construction industry as a Master Plumbing, Master Roofing and Class “A” General Contractor for building and remodeling residential and commercial buildings. In 1996, I became interested in the IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) industry, especially as it related to the problems created by poor construction decisions, improper products or poor workmanship. That prompted me to write “Mold-Free Construction” (www.moldfreeconstruction.com) and, as a result, I was invited to serve on the NIAQI (National Indoor Air Quality Institute) Board of Directors. I then went on to train for the Louisiana Mold Licensing Law, which went into effect in July of 2004, just a year before Hurricane Katrina. My understanding of building science and my book became the basis for building the NORMI professional model, and we have gained credibility from the states who have approved our training for licensure.
Do you engage in any educational practices or endeavors within the industry?
As the Executive Director of NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors), I am responsible for the training and certification programs that license professionals in the five states that currently have mold licensing laws. I have taught for the EPA Lead RRP program, as well as for the 14 certification programs currently offered by NORMI. I have a teacher’s heart, so we do many FREE seminars and I take advantage of any opportunity to get the NORMI message out. We are currently looking at holding a FREE seminar in Charlotte for the flood victims to help them understand the importance of taking care of themselves during this cleanup. We have another non-profit (www.NORMIProETF.org) that helps flood victims by providing them with helpful information.
Could you tell us about your research into your book Mold-Free Construction
I wanted to write a common sense book that was easy for homeowners to understand so I avoided the “constructionese” typically associated with these types of books. The research that went into this book included good building practices as interpreted by the Department of Energy, the International Building Code and the books generally accepted as legitimate in the industry. I wanted to encourage the reader to do his own homework, become a label-reader and follow manufacturer’s installation instructions. This was important to me because the industry seems to be plagued with just the opposite. Too many contractors do things the way they’ve always been done and do not try to stay on top of the newest technologies and proven techniques. Since the homeowner will be living in the home, he should have the final say as to how the home is built and be lead in a direction that will provide healthy living indoors. That was my goal. I have a lot of faith in the public and believe that, when properly educated, they will make the right decision.
How has the industry changed for the better or for the worse in your experience?
Like most things, it’s generally gotten better and we are now making homes more energy efficient and sustainable. New products have created some indoor air quality issues but there are also newer technologies that have been developed to mitigate those, so, all in all, it’s probably better. When I built my home in 2005 we were using some of the cutting-edge techniques available at the time, but there are many things I would do now to improve that process if I were building my home today.
What will you be discussing during your ISSA Conference presentation?
I want to help employers and managers understand the seriousness of mold/IAQ issues and, more importantly, what steps they could take to identify problems and solve them. In some situations, a mold/IAQ problem is so bad that it needs to be handled by a professional. I will present a simple five step process that will help them navigate through the mold/IAQ assessment process and know exactly when to turn the problem over to a professional. For the manager who wants to avoid litigation and create a healthier environment for his employees, this will be a very practical and profitable class.
How many emails are in your inbox right now?
Way too many.
If you didn’t do this as a career, what would you be doing?
I suppose I would be doing something in the field of training. I love teaching adults because I feel like I learn as much as they do. I like making complicated things easy to understand by comparing them to things we already know. Putting together the pieces of the puzzle to create a comprehensive picture is the most fulfilling thing of all!
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