Southface’s staff represents a diverse group of leaders in the fields of sustainability, equitable community development, environmental science, health, high performance building and sustainable design. Each day, staff members work hard to create a healthy built environment for all, and Southface is invested in the good work that each employee carries out within the organization and beyond. By keeping in touch with former employees, Southface is able to celebrate the accomplishments that alumni make and keep up to date with how they are bettering the world.
Conor Sosebee joined Southface in 2013 and completed work for Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and LEED for Homes. Last year, he ventured to Alaska and now works as a project manager and research scientist in Fairbanks. Southface caught up with Conor and is excited to share his advancement in its Alumni Feature Series.
Southface: Tell us a little bit about your history with Southface. How did you first hear about the organization and when did you work here?
Conor: I heard of Southface here and there growing up in Atlanta, especially at SART. I also heard about the trainings at its SWEET center while working for a local HVAC company. After learning more about the organization while attending Appalachian State University, I knew I would want to work there when I moved back to Atlanta. I joined Southface’s staff in 2013 and worked mostly in the HERS and LEED for Homes providerships until mid-2016 when I took an opportunity to move to Alaska.
Southface: Where do you work now, what’s your title, and what do you do?
Conor: Currently, I am a project manager/research scientist at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks. I work on the development and implementation of building science research projects with a special focus towards residential heating and ventilation. Additionally, through my work on our Sustainable Northern Communities team, I work with indigenous rural communities to help design and assess buildings to be appropriate for the circumpolar climate and its rapid changes.
Southface: How are you using the skills that you acquired at Southface in your current position?
Conor: Southface set me up for success by helping to solidify my expertise in building science through both field and office work on high performance buildings. I gained a lot of energy modeling and construction verification experience through my time at Southface, which is wholly useful with my travel to rural village builds. The variety in my work from urban mid-rise projects to rural single family projects in the Southeast gave me a diverse skill set that I utilize daily.
Southface: Cold climate housing research is significantly different from the work Southface does. How was the transition from the hot, humid climates of the southeast to the frigid and cold climate of Alaska?
Conor: Surprisingly, it wasn’t as big of a transition shock to this climate as I initially thought. A lot of colloquial building techniques I learned working in construction in Atlanta wouldn’t fly up here, but at the end of the day the science is the same no matter where you live. CCHRC and Southface certainly have different climatic conditions to contend with, but the missions of both organizations have immense parallels in the work to create a resilient, sustainable built environment.
Southface: What in your work has surprised you the most?
Conor: Alaska’s geography surprised me when it came to applicability for building science technologies and house design. If you look at a climate zone map then Alaska looks pretty uniform. However, there are lots of variations in conditions between the North Slope and Juneau that have to be considered when gauging the appropriateness of a technology or building for use in the state.
Southface: What are you hoping that the work you do accomplishes?
Conor: For the research aspect of my work, I hope to help further advance cold-climate technologies and practices, which in turn leads to widespread adoption of durable, energy efficient technologies in Alaskan homes. Alaska’s housing scenario is tricky in that most of the rural communities have aging housing stock with exorbitant energy costs and logistical difficulties when it comes to sourcing materials and labor. Through partnerships, I hope my work leads to safe, affordable and sustainable housing for the communities that are most in need.
All current and former Southfacers are invited to keep in touch, network together and celebrate what Southface stands for through “Southface Employees and Alumni” groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Be the first to hear about Southface news and stay engaged with our community connected to the environmental movement. If you would like to be featured in our Alumni Feature Series, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear what you’re up to!