This is What Passes for “Well Qualified.”

Recently, my local government took a bribe in the form of a grant from the Department of Energy to upgrade the air conditioning system at City Hall. The amount of the grant is over $200,000 and comes with a stipulation – that each and every issue of the town’s newsletter, the local government has to print an article “energy efficiency and sustainability.”

This month’s article is entitled “An Introduction to Sustainability – Why conserving energy and being efficient makes sense.”

The first thing one notices is the glowing review of the program and the writer by the editor of the newsletter. The “energy efficiency” writer is described as “well qualified for this task” of writing the articles.

The author’s name is Helmut Kohler, Jr. He lists his qualifications as:

I am a junior at the Florida Institute of Technology, pursuing a Bachelors of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Science, with minors in Management and Sustainability. Before transferring to Florida Tech last year, I spent two years working for a construction company that specialized in energy efficient buildings and renovations. Whilst there, I became a project manager for energy operations, overseeing commercial building energy audits, retrofits, and ENERGY STAR ratings. I was also Project Manager for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications. LEED is a rating system by the U.S. Green Building Council that verifies a facility’s sustainability of design, and/or operations. In that role, I managed the certification of the first ever LEED Platinum-rated commercial building in the State of Idaho. I am currently also working with Florida Tech to develop a system for making their buildings LEED certified.

I have never been on a technical job where anyone who is a junior in college has ever been considered “well qualified.” The only thing one can hope for is that they are “well qualified” to become a senior in college. To be clear, the level of education obtained by Mr. Kohler is not the issue. The issue is whether his level of education qualifies him as some sort of expert in the field of which he wants to “educate” the citizens of the city.

The second item on Mr. Kohler’s “resume” is that he worked as a “project manager” for a construction company. He includes that fact that he was a “Project Manager for LEED” for a project receiving certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Sounds impressive until you start to look into the “U.S. Green Building Council” and the actual “LEED” certification.

The USGBC sounds like an official department of the United States government. It is not. It is a 501(c)3 corporation headquartered in Washington, D.C. While it does maintain offices around the country, the USGBC is, at its heart, a lobbyist organization. To promote their agenda, however worthwhile it may be, they partner with companies and take donations from those companies in their lobbying efforts.

The “LEED” certification is simply a checklist from the USBCC. It is a set of items and agenda that they and their partners set. If you meet the criteria they set, you get a certificate.

Whoopie. A self-promoting group gives out a certificate.

Call me less than impressed.

But I want to be fair. I went to the USGBC website and downloaded their checklist for home construction and renovation.

First, there are the fees. Each single detached home is charged $225 to register for the certification and another $225 to be “certified.” Remember the Mr. Kohler stated that he was the project lead in certifying the building. He would have completed the paperwork and the necessary forms. While a third party certification is available, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Kohler’s company paid him to do the work and then paid for the ability to say “we got a platinum certificate.”

In the real world, we call call that “advertising.”

Secondly, in the “homes certification” section, the questions that are asked are such things as “paper backed wallboard in shower areas?” These are local building code issues and do not have anything to do with the energy consumption of the building.

To be fair, the checklist does remind people of high efficiency energy products. At the same time, the home owner is docked points for not having studs spaced more than 16 inches apart – which is the code in most locales.

Another section deals on how many “community activities” there are in the area. I suppose that relates to transportation (and in fact there is a section for public transportation) but one is forced to wonder how some farmer that builds a new home that is ultra energy efficient gets docked points for not having a local eatery nearby.

The standards of the “LEED” certification are that which the lobbying group wishes to see. Period.

In a letter to me, Mr. Kohler wrote:

As someone who managed a process for a private company myself, I can speak first hand to the benefits of the process. The project I was on saw tangible reductions in energy costs as a result of the project.

One would hope that any refurbishment project would see a benefit from newer products. However, like so many, Mr. Kohler makes the fatal flaw of assuming that the process of achieving some nebulous certification resulted in energy savings.

It is not the process that resulted in energy savings. It is the products and installation of those products that result in energy savings. The “certification” has nothing to do with energy savings. If the same building were renovated using the same products as the building Mr. Kohler worked upon, are there any more energy savings at his project than the other simply because of a plaque on the wall?

Of course not.

The certification is worthless and a waste. This supposed “well qualified” person should see and know that, but he doesn’t because he is too caught up in the rhetoric and pie in the sky projections that young people have.

As I said, I wrote Mr. Kohler and expressed some concerns to him about his article. He wrote back that his statements were correct. He actually believes that a $10 standard flush valve for a toilet is equally or more expensive than a low volume flush valve. He actually believes that an incandescent bulb that costs a dollar and lasts a year, is cheaper than a $10 fluorescent which lasts 18 months.

I suspect that he is talking about long term use and the energy savings of using the more efficient products. Depending on the product, he may or may not have a point.

For example, the low flow flush valves save money, but as communities such as San Fransisco are finding out, the lower percentage of water in city waste pipes is causing backups and blowouts of the waste pipes themselves. The cost of retrofitting the waste pipes of San Fransisco is more than the “Big Dig” project in Boston. Estimates are that the costs would be in the trillions of dollars. Where exactly are the savings? The homeowner may see a drop in their water bill, but at the same time, taxes will rise to pay for the new waste systems.

Clearly Mr. Kohler has great interest and passion for the planet. I applaud that within him. At the same time, the question is whether he is “well qualified” or did the federal government “buy” off the due diligence of the City Council with a grant for an air conditioner?

If you have any doubt as to that answer, the young Mr. Kohler signed his reply to my email with a list of his “accomplishments.”

Florida Institute of Technology, Undergraduate
Interdisciplinary Science
Minor(s): Management, Sustainability

City of Satellite Beach Energy Conservation and Efficiency Columnist

UNESCO Satellite Project, Lead Undergraduate Researcher

The UNESCO cite is interesting. “UNESCO” is the “United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” This is the United Nations group that got caught lying and distorting data on “climate change” and has yet to apologize for it. Their position has always been “we may have been wrong on the facts, but we were right on the conclusions.”

That doesn’t even past the smell test.

The fact that my little city has hooked up with this so called “expert” who has laid down with organizations that are not interested in truth, says a great deal.

As the ol’ saying goes, “you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”

Hopefully, the City will see that the way to kill these fleas is to offer the truth, and not some bought and paid for fallacy.

One Response to “This is What Passes for “Well Qualified.””

  1. Jerry says:

    I wonder if young Mr. Kohler is being paid from this ‘free’ money?

    Greetings residents and businesses of Satellite Beach! I am the City’s new Energy Conservation and Efficiency Columnist. This position is part of a grant that the City was recently awarded to improve the energy efficiency of several municipal buildings. In addition to making these City facilities more environmentally friendly, they will also become more pleasant places to work and visit, and importantly, less costly to operate.

    If the current HVAC system works and the current lighting meets OSHA requirements, how does having more energy efficient HVAC and lighting make it a more pleasant place to work and visit?

    I wonder what other strings are attached to this ‘free’ money from the State (US Gov.)

    Like the vacuum/sweeper truck the city had to buy as part of the drainage grant money. Who has to pay for the maintenance? What is the expected life cost of such a vehicle? Do we have a place to garage the vehicle? Does the city have to pay for training in the operations and maintenance of this vehicle? How much did the warranty costs and who bore the costs?

    Strings, strings and more strings.

  2. […] mentioned the other day about the “well qualified” Helmut Kohler my City Council has hired to educate the rest of us poor stupid minions on […]