Christy Love, Principal and Regional Manager for RDH Building Science on Vancouver Island

For our October 2020 Newsletter, we asked Christy Love about RDH,  her work there, and a bit about her life outside of work.

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Can you briefly introduce yourself and RDH
Hi! My name is Christy Love. I am a Professional Engineer, Principal and Regional Manager for RDH Building Science on Vancouver Island.
A small group of building scientists started RDH in Vancouver in 1997 to help solve the leaky condo crisis. Victoria was our second location, opening shortly after Vancouver, and our Courtenay office a bit later. We now have about 250 people working mostly out of our home offices in nine cities in Canada and the US. We help clients make their buildings better at all stages of their life cycles, from depreciation reports to investigations, building renewals, historic restoration, research, new construction, energy efficiency and sustainability.
While we have a relatively small team of 20 on the island, we have an incredible depth of knowledge, with a team capable of designing new prefabricated wall systems, advising on the intricacies of mass timber construction, investigating and fixing older buildings, or improving energy performance. We understand buildings as a system, but also, in many cases, as peoples’ homes, so we strive to understand issues from our clients’ perspective – whether it’s about improving comfort, protecting their investment, or reducing their environmental footprint. All of these issues intersect. I personally specialize in energy and carbon emission reduction research, measurement and verification.

What is the most challenging part of your job, what do you love the most?
The challenge I have been wrestling with lately is finding ways for our staff and our business to progress and evolve in ways that align with the limited carrying capacity of our planet. Infinite growth is not the answer.  What I love most about my job is working with friends who care about one another and about what they do. It’s also really important to me that what I do makes the world a better place.

When you’re not working, what are your favourite activities?
Riding my bike in the forest has always been a salve to all that ails. Sometimes my husband and I even manage to swing a ride together- we rode the Great Trail up to Shawnigan a couple of times this summer.  I liked to bake pre-COVID and while I have yet to join the breadmaking army, over the past few months I’ve made several dozen killer cupcakes, a few different kinds of cakes, and marginally edible cinnamon buns with my 7-year old daughter.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I moved from Victoria to Montreal when I was 17, completed my Bachelor of Arts Degree there and then set about “being a writer”. As it turned out, I had no idea how to do this and also support a reasonable standard of living. I discovered engineering by browsing university course catalogues for career ideas. I liked the idea of learning how things work and I wanted a career that could make a difference in the world. So that’s what I did and it was a great choice for me. I haven’t abandoned my writing dream, though, and am currently working on a dystopian young adult fiction series that is bound to be a best-seller. 😉

Has COVID had any effect on how RDH operates?
Our level of comfort in working with remote teams has been elevated for everyone. As RDH staff are spread across North America, with projects around the world, we have saved a lot of carbon emissions by not flying and have been able to make better connections with our coworkers in other locations. One of things I loved most about those early zoom calls was seeing people’s cats walk across their computers and their babies bouncing on their laps. It’s been a very humanizing time. As people leaders, though, we have also had to recognize that the constant juggling of attention is a challenging way to work for months (years?) on end and we need to be thinking every day about how our staff are doing, whether they need different tools, or emotional support. We have to make an ongoing and regular effort to stay connected, make sure everyone has the support they need, and to recognize that we all have up and down days.

We were fortunate on the island that we were able to continue with our construction projects, which was not the case in some of our other offices. We quickly implemented COVID safety procedures to protect both our staff and our clients. Things definitely slowed down, and a couple of projects on which we were consultants either got put on hold or cancelled, but we have been able to continue with most of our work.

What does the future of sustainable buildings look like in the Capital Region?
Big question! Sustainable buildings today are not just about energy efficiency. They are also about climate resilience, which includes mitigation (reducing our impact) and adaptation (being able to survive and thrive). How do our older existing buildings keep their occupants comfortable during a heat wave? How can we retrofit our existing buildings to buffer occupants from power outages or wildfire smoke events? Or seismic events? How can we help all buildings  – new and old – reduce their carbon emissions? My belief is that we need to design every new building with the future in mind. And every time we touch an existing building – whether to replace the windows or replace the hot water boiler – is our golden – and sometimes, our only – opportunity to make it as good as it can possibly be. We know how to do this. We have the future climate models. We have great solutions. We just need the will and in some cases, a bit of government financial and policy support to have a big impact across the region.