Bright Employee: Carmel Pratt, Director of New Construction


Carmel PrattWe’re proud of the intelligent, passionate, and hardworking people that make up the Bright Power team. Each month, you’ll get a chance to meet one of them, understand how they contribute to the organization, and what makes them excited to come to work every day.

Meet Carmel Pratt, Director of New Construction.

What are you most excited about in joining Bright Power?
My pull to Bright Power was the opportunity to serve a team of dedicated and thoughtful people working to improve buildings in NYC and beyond. The New Construction team at Bright Power has grown over the years to provide energy efficiency and sustainability services to a wide variety of clients and projects, but always with a heavy focus on affordable housing. With this positioning, Bright Power and the New Construction team have become technical advisors and change-makers in the NYC multifamily building space, and I’m honored to be learning from and leading this team of talented professionals. Additionally, the history and culture of Bright Power was a strong pull: the success and growth over the past 15 years without compromise to the integrity and mission of the organization. My favorite thing about Bright Power is our Find, Fix, Follow approach. You can apply this methodology to so many aspects of a building and project. It also has a strong application within our internal processes, motivating an environment of transparency and continuous improvement.

What are some projects and accomplishments you’re most proud of?
I’m very proud of our team for being involved in so many New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Buildings of Excellence projects. These projects exemplify efforts to push beyond efficiency and sustainability; to serve as precedents for other projects to integrate resiliency, carbon-neutrality, community building, accessible and inclusive design, and other high-impact design features. We’re grateful to the clients who are willing to push towards these high-impact projects, and we’re proud to support the evolution of constant building improvement.

But… what I’m MOST proud of is what our team has yet to accomplish and the projects that have yet to be built! I’m excited and proud of how we’ve been able to stay on the cutting edge of an ever-evolving industry and look forward to continuing to do so.

What’s something people might not know about you?
I was on the team that conducted the final whole-building blower door testing at “The House” at Cornell Tech, which at the time was the tallest Passive House building in the world. The test was able to be conducted with a SINGLE Model 3 TEC blower door fan with pressure gauges at all sides of the building and 26 stories up on the roof to ensure the entire building was, in fact, being equally pressurized and depressurized as a single zone. It was quite a fun time, especially running wire and tubing up and down 26 flights of stairwells. ?

What’s something you wish developers knew before they start designing a new development and assembling their design team?
I wish all developers recognized the value and importance of taking the time to be thorough during pre-development to incorporate and fully understand project goals from all stakeholders, especially the communities impacted by the developments. Look to assemble a team where each player takes full ownership, pride, and accountability in their value addition to the project. Look for the players that don’t say “we’ve always done it this way” but instead say, “let’s do this better this time.” Set goals, get buy-in, and stick to ‘em!

And of course, I wish some folks knew their project’s true cost to the planet. So often we get bogged down by soft and hard costs, or operational costs, that we don’t look at the full picture: who is the project serving, what is the impact of the construction process to the community, what is the embodied carbon footprint of the project, and who is being represented by the final product? These are all important questions we must ask ourselves as industry professionals.

What’s the one service offering we have that you think is the most beneficial to clients and why?
COMMISSIONING!  And third-party verification in general.

I can’t say enough about how invaluable construction quality assurance/control and verification are. Successful and cost-effective construction is all about executing a design. An owner benefits immensely from having a third-party quality assurance agent commission the building’s systems to ensure proper and optimal operation. A building only performs as well as it is built and maintained to function. The best kind of commissioning, in my opinion, starts early in the pre-development and design process. Commissioning plans should be part of every project planning process to have a set of measurable goals for verifying the product of a construction project has (amongst other things) met the efficiency targets, operates within predictable utility cost ranges, and maintains healthy indoor environments for occupants. While always critical, this last point is of paramount importance in this era of a global pandemic.