My ASHRAE Journey—How I Started, the Benefits, and an Offer to Mentor You
Leslie Jonsson, PE, LEED AP BD+C, CSBA
Associate, Mechanical Engineer
How has participation in ASHRAE impacted my career? How did I get on the direct path for becoming the first woman Chair of the ASHRAE Chapter Technology Transfer Committee?
And how can I be of service to you to leverage this great industry for your career?
It all began in 2003 when I was asked by Paul Diaz, a Consulting Design Inc. (CDi) founder and Principal, to attend the Puget Sound ASHRAE TEGA (Technology Energy and Government Activities) Committee meetings and provide periodic updates to the company on events and activities. Six months later, I was elected Chair of that chapter committee.
LEED® was really getting traction, I had one LEED® project under my belt (Seattle Justice Center was the first LEED® certified project in Seattle), and I saw a need in the local design community for collaboration between project team members and organizations, particularly ASHRAE and USGBC. I immersed myself in the “green” community, became active in Cascadia Green Building Council and AIA Seattle, in parallel with my commitment to ASHRAE. It was then that I met Glen Gilbert, the President and CEO of Cascadia Green Building Council (2003-2006), and approached him with my big idea to develop a joint venture workshop focused on Green Mechanical Engineering, offering information to design optimized building mechanical systems. Glen was on board! It took a little longer that we thought and in the interim, Jason McLennan took over as CEO of CGBC, I had a Chair for the planning committee, Lisa Rosenow (then a mechanical designer at CDi), and an MOU was signed between CGBC and Puget Sound Chapter ASHRAE resulting in a two-day multi-track event with over 130 attendees.
The relationship I had developed with Glen was the start of a series of events that led me to receive the 2005 BetterBricks Award, Mechanical Engineer category. Receiving this award changed everything for me! I realized that the benefits of being involved in a professional society such as ASHRAE are good for me, and good for my employer. Working my way up through the ASHRAE committee structure has served as a “management training center”, learning how to set goals, recognize problems, and develop solutions. I am recognized in my local and now international community as an authority in my field, and a collaborator dedicated to advancing the arts and science of building design. But one of the most rewarding benefits is my role as a mentor to young designers/engineers, particularly to young women pursuing a career in engineering.
“What does this have to do with me?” you might ask. Well, of course, I encourage Engineers and Designers to become involved with ASHRAE, or other similar organizations like ASHE, AIA, GBC or IEEE. For ASHRAE, the best place to start is at the Chapter Level, and it’s easy. You can get your feet wet by volunteering to assist a Chapter Committee Chair with some minor assistance on a particular task, to get yourself familiar with local organization without committing yourself and your time to more than what you would expect.
I would love the opportunity to mentor your ASHRAE involvement—reach out to me here. You will quickly reap the rewards, both personally and professionally.