LEED Fellow Patrick Field – How to achieve this status

August 9, 2022 charlene.knox

The IGBC – Irish Green Building Council spoke with Patrick Field, Managing Director of O’Connor Sutton Cronin M&E Ltd who achieved LEED Fellow status in the latter half of last year. Patrick is one of only 2 people in Ireland to achieve the LEED Fellow title and we are interested to find out more about what this means.

Patrick, you recently achieved the highly commendable LEED Fellow title, what drove you to become a LEED AP and then LEED Fellow?

I started my career as a Graduate building services engineer with O’Connor Sutton Cronin M&E in 2008, 2 weeks after the
company was formed. At the time the country and the construction industry were at the start of an economic downturn.

The practice began with 4 people including myself and apart from making the tea for the other three, I was tasked with understanding where the industry was moving too and what services we needed to provide.

It was clear that the future of the built environment was low energy and sustainable design. My research led me to the LEED standard and the case study buildings in the US that not only demonstrated energy efficient heating and cooling systems, but focused on a holistic approach to sustainable design. I was inspired by the approach and the USGBC’s initiative to push such targets. I knew I wanted to be at the forefront of this revolution in the European market and proceeded to book my LEED AP exam!

When I qualified as a LEED AP, and completed my first project, I noticed some USGBC articles on LEED Fellow, outlining that the LEED Fellow status was awarded to LEED APs who demonstrated exceptional LEED related impacts with 10 years’ experience. This gave me a prestigious goal to aim for and I decided there and then that I would achieve LEED Fellow in 10 years. I cannot believe how quickly the 10 years have passed!

What did it entail to attain the LEED Fellow Title?

Well, the journey started 10 years ago, when I was a lot younger with less grey hair.

On a more serious note, there are a clear set of competencies that a LEED fellow must demonstrate such as unquestionable knowledge of Sustainable design, however, education and advocacy were very important elements also. If you want to make a real change education is key. For me this meant educating the construction industry on the LEED movement and improving knowledge within the Built environment industry. With the increased exposure, the Team of LEED AP’s in OCSC grew rapidly. My knowledge also transferred to the internal team which greatly increased the number of LEED certified projects that OCSC were delivering.

In 2019 (2 years to LEED Fellow Submission) I refocused on the specific requirements I would need to demonstrate at the time of submission. I had to increase my external reading and reaching out to peers in the industry for project and character references.

In the final year, the application was a two step process. I firstly had to demonstrate that I had met the requirements of the set competencies for a LEED fellow. Once I demonstrated I passed this, the second step was increased description on the competencies to be evaluated.

I found the application process a great reflection tool looking back on my career to date and the exciting projects and people I worked with, and would recommend to anyone intending to also seek the title to begin documenting their career items as early as possible, it makes recounting the information a lot easier.

How are you utilizing the skill set of LEED Fellow in your current role?

I was recently promoted to Managing Director of the M&E group in OCSC. My vision is to introduce Low Energy sustainable design into every project we work on, and to question is there a more sustainable way of designing the buildings we are working on. I am also promoting more sustainable ways of working within our own company and building. We are one of the companies pledging to reduce our company emissions by 50% by 2030.

How important is sustainability to your organisation?

It’s a simple answer, it is at the heart of everything we do. The OCSC group includes Civil, structural, Environmental, Mechanical, Electrical, Energy and Sustainable divisions. Every element of project design can incorporate even a little sprinkle of sustainable design, and this is becoming more and more evident as we focus on embodied carbon where for example the buildings structure plays a significant part.

Then internally within our operations we run sustainability events on a regular basis, we have a focused Green week, where we increase awareness among staff of the simple every day changes we can make to lead more sustainable life styles including daily reductions in energy and waste. We are also currently working on initiatives that involve a focus on sustainable clothing. Pre-covid we also ran community days where the residents of Stoneybatter came into the office for free energy advice. Something we are very excited about re-introducing as we adjust to the new-norm post covid.

Where do you see the future of the industry going?

I have seen a slow steady increase from 2008 when I started my career in Energy efficient and Sustainable design. But in the last three years this growth has been exponential. Clients and building Tenants have a better understanding of their ESG obligations and commitment to climate change. Originally I found it was the designers who pushed the sustainable agenda, but now it is the clients and their internal ESG teams who are setting the goals and it is fantastic to see.

Embodied and operational Carbon and striving to achieve the illusive Zero target will be top of everyone’s list. Following up with a close second will be the continuation of LEED certification and the ever improving standards in Well certification, as well as the IGBC’s Homes Performance Index Certification which bring sustainability to the forefront of residential development in Ireland.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin a career in sustainability?

The advice I would give to any aspiring sustainable engineer would be along the following lines:

– Follow your passion for what excites you the most to work on. For me, it was energy efficiency and façade design. I gained experience in how the façade and M&E systems can work in harmony and proud to say we have delivered some of the most groundbreaking designs in Europe.

– Always look for a more sustainable way to do it. Before we complete an internal design review, we always sit around the table to see if there is a better, more sustainable way of designing our services and contributing to the façade design.

– Learn from the people around you. Every day for me was a learning process and continues to be so. I love attending design and construction meetings and seeing how other disciplines work and communicate their designs.

– Don’t forget to reflect and learn from your designs. One of my favourite things to do is to follow up on buildings once they are occupied to see if the designs we implemented are really working. We have learned a lot through this process about how to continually improve our designs.

Interview with
Patrick Field

Managing Director Mechanical/Electrical

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