A house is a machine for living in.
When I arrived at Northeastern to study computer engineering I didn’t even know what a building envelope was, let alone that someone could make a career out of helping to make it work better. Even when I moved over to the civil engineering department I thought I would design the structures of bridges or skyscrapers.
But thanks to a lucky first co-op assignment (thank you Professor Tillman) I ended up at a firm that had a whole group of people who specialized in this unique niche hybrid of engineering, architecture, materials science and more.
Now after many years, stints at a couple of other great firms (here and here), and even a sabbatical traveling in Southeast Asia I’m embarking on this new adventure in entrepreneurship and I couldn’t be more excited.
What’s the goal?
In short, I want to solve my clients’ building envelope problems.
Folks in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry have a pretty good handle on the right ways to build. But building envelope problems are still far too common and a lot of times they get a shrug – “what can you do?”.
There’s some disconnects in the process and I think a lot of it comes down to communication and education. If everyone on the team is clear on what to do, and understands why it needs to be that way, then results can be better.
So Copeland Building Envelope Consulting will focus on improving the process of designing, investigating, and repairing building envelope systems. I’ve got some ideas on this, but if you have a suggestion please drop me a comment below!
Why start fresh?
I want to reinvent the wheel.
Building envelope consulting has grown into an established, well trodden industry. Lots of folks do it and many do it quite well.
But there is room for improvement.
The client experience can be better. The communication with project stakeholders can be better. The value can be higher.
I want the opportunity to question every decision, every task, every process: is there a better way? Can it be done more efficiently, or explained more concisely with less ambiguity?
Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are people who invent, design, analyze, build, and test machines, systems, structures and materials to fulfill objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost.
As much as I engineer building envelope systems, I also intend to engineer the system of building envelope consulting, from the ground up.
I love and appreciate the art of architecture, but at the end of the day if it doesn’t keep the water where it’s supposed to be then I think there’s a problem. The form and the function are both fundamental requirements of successful architecture.
The Le Corbusier quote at the top of the article is an underlying thread in all building envelope consulting work. Building envelope problems mean the machine is broken.
Our goal should be to keep the machine humming along.
Let’s do it!
I’m ready to bring a fresh approach to building envelope consulting. I would love to hear from you in the comments below – what problems need solving? What gives you a headache and what can be done better?
Thank you for reading!
Matthew M. Copeland, P.E.
Principal and Founder
Copeland Building Envelope Consulting