1. What was the inspiration behind the start of Baumann Consulting?
I, Oliver Baumann, started my career in the mid-90s as an energy modeler with a large MEP firm in Munich, Germany. There, I had the opportunity to work closely with experienced MEP engineers and building physicist. From building simulation, I quickly got involved in the startup, testing and troubleshooting of systems and buildings (a.k.a. commissioning) and eventually became project manager for high performance projects in Germany and large-scale developments in Russia and the Middle East. At the same time, I got involved in research projects on commissioning through the International Energy Agency (IEA Annex 40 & 47) and connected with a network of global scientists and practitioners.
After 10 years, I had the desire and felt prepared to start my own business venture. It was a combination of the need for more energy efficient buildings in North America and my affinity to the USA that I launched my own American Dream. In June 2006, I moved to Washington, D.C., started my company, and the rest is history.
2. How does Baumann incorporate sustainability into the foundation of its practices?
Baumann Consulting provides consulting services for sustainable and innovative building solutions for the US and international markets. As engineers, architects, planners, and consultants, our team is driven to elevate high performance buildings from a niche segment of the market to become the industry norm.
We offer a broad range of expert consulting services in the field of commercial, institutional, educational, and industrial buildings. Baumann’s services cover the entire life cycle of buildings, from energy audits, feasibility studies, and the development and evaluation of design concepts to commissioning (Cx) and monitoring and optimization of the performance of existing systems and buildings.
All our services focus on increasing energy efficiency and thermal comfort for new and existing buildings. We also understand that all our clients have financial responsibilities and the solutions developed for our projects are well balanced between all three aspects of sustainability – environmental, social and economic.
We achieved a LEED CI Platinum certification for our headquarter office in Washington, D.C, our Frankfurt office is in a LEED Gold certified building, and our Chicago office is in a building with an EnergyStar score of 83.
3. Tell us about a 'success story' in the sustainability space.
With our work we want to have positive, scalable and persistent impact. We define projects as successful, when our services contribute to reaching our clients’ goals, which are aligned with our mission for high performance buildings. One example is the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, which achieved one of the toughest building standards in the world – a Living Building Challenge certification (as well as LEED Platinum). Through a natural ventilation study and energy and performance modeling, our services helped the Chesapeake Bay Foundation reach its net zero energy goals during the design. Even more exiting the net zero energy goal was achieved already in the first year of operation (and ever since for the fourth consecutive year). The center embraces the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge standard as a net zero water, waste, and energy building. It is also the first commercial building in the continental US permitted to capture and treat rainfall for use as drinking water.
We define projects also as successful, when our services ensure the correct installation and functionality of technologies that are important for high performance buildings, such as geothermal systems.
The new office building in Wheaton, MD will utilize a geothermal well system installed underneath the building, which makes access to the system during operation impossible. Our teams’ onsite inspections of the geothermal system and witnessing of testing to identify and track non-conformities until resolution, ensured and verified the functionality of the system according to its design intent. This multi-phase public/private initiative will reshape much of the Wheaton Triangle and create new transit-oriented, mixed-use space in Wheaton.
4. How do you plan to innovate to keep up with competition in the market?
From early on in my career, research and development was a crucial part of my own professional development. And it is still an important value for my company where we pay close attention to professional and personal development of our staff, as well as staying on top of and creating the latest industry advancements through active involvement in research. We also provide trainee and internships for the future generation of engineers to share our knowledge in the high-performance building industry, but also to learn from them and to incorporate new ideas.
We are constantly sharpening our tools to provide our services in the most efficient and effective way. This includes our in-house developed Operation Diagnostics, a combination of visual and statistical analytics for the monitoring and evaluation of building and system performance. We include this unique approach in all our commissioning projects and just recently switched to a fully web-based platform that allows for real-time performance tracking and full access and transparency for our clients and project partners. For our building simulation and energy modeling services, we are using the most sophisticated tools and a new exceptional web-based simulation dashboard, which enables our clients to interactively evaluate different scenarios such as window to wall ratio, equipment efficiencies, insolation etc. to make the appropriate decisions that meet their sustainability and economic goals.
5. What advice would you give anyone embarking on a construction project?
Any project, whether new construction or the renovation of existing buildings require thoroughly developed and clearly communicated goals and requirements. We help our clients to document those requirements early on in a project in such a way that they can be reviewed and verified throughout the design and construction of buildings. Especially for projects with ambitious energy efficiency goals, we recommend that whole building simulations are used early in the design process, ideally in the conceptual design, as a tool to test and optimize the performance of the building and its system. This is minimizing the impact on schedule and cost due to changes later in the project. It is important to define energy efficiency goals that are quantifiable to ensure that the design and later the functional performance of installed equipment and systems can be verified against these goals.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with Sustainable Inc! For more information about Baumann Consulting please visit their website here: https://baumann-us.com/
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