IIBEC First Vice President Amy Peevey, RRO, REWC, PE, CDT is a principal and director with SOCOTEC Consulting Inc. She lives in Houston, Texas, has been a member of IIBEC since 2008, and has served locally as a Gulf Coast Region Chapter board member, as well as a committee member and chair for the Building Enclosure Symposium (BES). In 2023 she is in line to become the first woman to serve as president of the association.
How did you get involved with RCI (now IIBEC)?
My first experience was when I attended the BES in San Antonio, Texas. The symposium was the first industry-related educational seminar that covered all aspects of the building enclosure, including evaluation, design, materials, and construction. It was the holistic viewpoint of the full building enclosure that immediately attracted me to RCI (now IIBEC) and its members. Additionally, I attended an educational class in preparation for my RRO exam. I always said I wanted to become a more well-rounded building enclosure expert, so the Rooftop Technology and Science and Rooftop Quality Assurance programs were excellent for developing my roofing knowledge and obtaining my RRO certification. They ensured that I was knowledgeable about roofing installation practices.
I’ve been hooked on attending the symposiums since my first BES in San Antonio, and I’ve rarely ever missed one since. I remember being at the symposium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and being dissatisfied with an aspect of the program. I felt passionate enough about it that I brought it to the attention of IIBEC Vice President of Events Karen McElroy. She indicated that the BES needed passionate members on its committee, so suddenly I was active in IIBEC, sitting on the BES committee. My excitement for IIBEC didn’t stop there. I soon found myself within the leadership of the Gulf Coast Chapter, and I eventually became chair of the Building Enclosure Symposium Committee.
What do you do on a typical day on the job?
As I imagine is the case with so many other members, a typical day is spent serving my clients and supporting my staff and counterparts. Whether it is an investigation or construction monitoring in the field, reviewing or drafting reports or contract documents, mentoring and training my staff through project engagements, or providing expert testimony, each day is full, and I find that I end each day feeling fulfilled. It is a blessing to be passionate about and enjoy what I do each day. It is wonderful to always be continually learning from the people in my industry, including my fellow IIBEC members.
Has there been any project that you have enjoyed more than usual?
There is no one specific project that stands out, rather an overarching theme that comes to mind. Those seemingly impossible projects where the problem persists and there has been no effective resolution in the past, where no one agrees on a solution or a viable way to move forward, where all parties are frustrated and maybe even have lost hope. I love overcoming the perceived challenges of these projects as they help me learn and grow and require my strengths: well-rounded technical knowledge, effective communication, collaboration with others team members, and achieving the big picture while navigating real-time project requirements/demands. I enjoy overcoming challenges, especially when it requires collaboration between the project team toward an innovative, comprehensive approach that meets my client’s needs.
A few projects stand out. Heights High School (formerly Reagan High School): The school was plagued with long-term water intrusion in the basement that was utilized by the Reserve Officers Training Corp. (ROTC). The basement was previously an indoor pool area. However, the pool was filled in and the area converted to a shooting range and classrooms for the ROTC. Lieutenant Colonel B. Lynch was more than skeptical that I would be able to repair the ongoing water intrusion that continually ruined his classrooms and made the area unusable following significant rain events. He begrudgingly participated in the walkthrough and gave a history of the ongoing problems. The project was similar to another high school on the other side of Houston that also had an abandoned basement with water intrusion that stemmed from the proximity of the basement to an aquifer. After completion of the project, which included adding exterior drainage, new waterproofing, and interior drains for the lower basement area, the project no longer suffers from water intrusion and the lieutenant colonel is now a believer in a comprehensive repair approach.
Palisade Palms: During construction, significant delays and construction defects resulted in a loss of revenue and leases that threatened the developer financially. I was part of a team that worked with the developer, architect, contractors, and manufacturers to come up with a repair solution that would allow the building to be dried in and turned over for occupancy that also met the lenders’ and insurers’ criteria. The solution required an overlay of the roofing system, addition of an elastomeric coating over the stucco cladding, and wet-sealing the windows. This “not ideal” solution for a brand-new building alleviated the financial stress for the developer and allowed the building to be completed for tenant occupancy. Almost 20 years later, the project has successfully resisted a Category 3 hurricane and flooding. It is currently undergoing maintenance that includes joint sealant replacement and updating the window wet-seal repairs.
Halliburton Oak Park: The park originally was constructed as headquarters for Brown & Root. The “bow tie” shaped building in plan includes a basement at the north side. The basement had reportedly undergone water intrusion since original construction that had only gotten more severe over time. Consequently, the basement was not utilized to its full potential, serving instead as service corridors, storage, and back-of-house operations. Halliburton partnered with Gensler to convert the basement into offices for the relocation of a portion of their operations. In order to do so, the basement water intrusion issue required a comprehensive long-term solution to its long-term water intrusion issue. I evaluated the long-term issues and provided Halliburton with a range of options, including excavation and positive-side waterproofing and drainage and curtain injection. To maintain current operations and limit disruption to the campus, Halliburton opted to perform the curtain injection system. I worked with a specialty contractor and the manufacturer to ensure the successful horizontal and vertical application for the basement waterproofing. The result was a success, and the operations were relocated to the basement level, where they continue operation to this day.
Have you had any mentors in the industry? What have they taught you?
The overall theme is to listen more than you speak and never stop learning. I will never be at the end of understanding and knowing. There are always new perspectives and points of view that I can learn and grow from.
Jerry Abendroth has been the biggest influence in my career. I remember I was working at Wiss Janney Elstner Associates (WJE), absorbing all the information from all these experts—specialists, scientists, and PhD level engineers. Jerry had just come on board, but he didn’t have PE, AIA, or PhD behind his name. We were reviewing and discussing a very complicated design. The project manager brought Jerry in and asked for his input on pricing and such. Jerry looked at the design and asked, “Where is the monkey? How would you ever build this?”
The project manager looked at him wondering what he meant. Then Jerry pointed out the detailing that been done was not possible and that you would have to leave a tiny person or monkey in the cavity of the building in order to make it happen.
It was an impossible design, and it didn’t serve the client needs.
For me it was a lesson on how important other people’s perspectives can be equally valuable that I had not thought about. Here are these people that I held in high regard that missed a specific point of view that needed to be considered.
Jerry taught me that you need to stop and look at things from more than a technical point of view.
Jerry is also the one who said if you want to get more roof knowledge, you need to be involved with this organization. I thought I was pretty good about the building enclosure, but I wanted to be well rounded.
That’s what I love about this organization and what drew me to IIBEC. The balance of perspectives is something I don’t see across the industry. IIBEC embodies so many perspectives from the range of member roles from consulting, industry, owner, etc. or the interplay of all the building enclosure components and the building systems.
Are there any core values that are important to you?
My core values are integrity, accountability, and service.
Every day I try to think outside the box. Not about the tasks to achieve a particular result, but about the bigger picture and providing what will best serve the interests of my client. I act with awareness and intention so that I am aware of and navigate through my bias or limitations to achieve the best outcome. Also, I am not perfect, and I know I’m going to make mistakes. So, I have learned that accountability is more important than having the right answer all the time. For me, service is responding to others’ needs in the way that best attains their goals and being accountable for my part if an outcome is not ideal.
What has been your greatest accomplishments?
I think I have grown and continue to grow as a person. It has helped me a great deal personally and professionally. There is no single instance of a great accomplishment. I think of surviving the most challenging times in my life: graduating at the top of my class with an engineering degree; attending college while working and raising a child as a single parent and providing support for my father who was in hospice during that time; overcoming childhood and family trauma patterns; starting and running a company with my previous partners; being a female leader in my company and the industry, etc. I am not just a survivor; I am a winner (my dad’s phrase). I never quite understood what my father meant when he said that to me. Now I know because I no longer allow others to determine what that means. I am the one who defines my own success.
What advice would you give today to someone starting out in the industry?
Listen more than you speak, and never stop growing. You will never know everything, and it’s the journey that is the best part, not the destination. I am blessed because I love what I do. I hope others can be as happy as I am. It’s not a burden. I am grateful to go to work each day. I love the achievement of a job well done, as well as the teamwork, collaboration, and exploration along the way. You don’t have to find the perfect career. You need to find what speaks to you and incorporate it into what you do each day.
Also, I have learned that the best outcome is never from a single point of view. So, don’t try to do it alone. In hindsight, there were things that at the time seemed to be burdens or limitations for me. But, having gone through those experiences and growing from them has enabled me to be more fulfilled in all aspects of my life. Part of that has been finding people who share a similar experience or story and using them as partners. You can’t do it alone.
Finally, do what is right, what sits well with you in your heart. Life is not a popularity contest. Do what is right, just and best—not what is easiest or will make you the most liked. I have never been able to please everyone, and I never will. What works for me is being true to myself so when I am looking in the mirror, I love the woman staring back at me.
Do you have any favorite convention memories?
I love convention because of all the networking and comradery. Going to convention each year, the bar is always set high, and it is always exceeded. I love the events, the trade show, seeing and talking to my peers.
For me, it’s huge anticipation. You go and it’s always amazing—like going to Disney World as a kid. It’s very exciting for me, and I enjoy being in the thick of it. I have never been disappointed.
I look forward to the trade show, especially the product demonstrations. I love understanding how the products are assembled in the field. The other thing that is so special is I get see my idols and mentors, people at the same phase of their career as me, and the students. It’s like seeing the future, current, and past versions of me.
What do you do when you are not working? What are some of your hobbies and interests?
When I am not working, I am working.
I find myself working on my house. I love to repurpose things and make them re-loved. From antiques to houses to various contraptions. Things that might have had a purpose at one time, I enjoy giving them a new life and purpose.
For example, taking a broken-down dresser or secretary desk and making them into modern pieces. We are losing the esthetics and appreciate of these things— hand-carved wood versus compressed plastic on fiber board. I appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship in these pieces that we typically don’t see these days.
Finally, I am also challenging myself to have more time for self-care. Spending time with friends and connecting with other women. Mostly, I am working on enjoying doing whatever it is in that moment and resisting my inner urges to “be productive” and instead just be. I am a work in progress.