At DEP, we truly believe that our partners are key to making Montgomery County as green as it can be. This series profiles a local leader, advocate, or trailblazer who is dedicated to improving energy efficiency and helping the county realize its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2027 and carbon neutrality by 2035 goals. Find out more about them in their own words.
This installment highlights Bryan Bomer who works as the Green Building Manager with Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services, Division of Commercial Building Construction.
My Green Montgomery: When did you first become interested in energy and climate change?
Bryan: It was early in my career; I was a field technician for an engineering firm in Central Ohio. I noticed the disconnect between the natural and built world and felt like resources were being misused to fight nature rather than work with what was given to us. At that point I made a decision to bridge the gap by focusing on geology and construction science at The Ohio State University. During school, I pushed very hard to get an internship at the Austin Energy Green Building Program because it was hands-down the best green building program in the nation. During the first year, my supervisor and I were driving around town when she pointed to this enormous house perched on a side of a hill. The foundation was massive, and she said, “that is a classic TWOR, a tragic waste of resources” -I knew I was in the right place! I ended up working there for 10 years and Mary (my supervisor) is one of my best friends.
MGM: What do you find most interesting about energy issues in Montgomery County?
Bryan:I live in Montgomery County and I am proud to know that my efforts have direct impact on the place I call home. The diversity in the built environment is unique. We have opportunities to impact urban, suburban and rural development. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the agricultural sector in our county and hope to get more involved with how to integrate technology (renewable energy) as an element of sustainability in those communities. New and innovative opportunities are plentiful with such unique building stock.
MGM: Can you describe what you do in your role as XYZ?
Bryan:I am the Green Building Program Manager at the Department of Permitting Services. My role is dynamic, and I have an amazing team that takes care of day to day functions. Primarily, we review all commercial building permits that require green building and energy code compliance. We are also working on some new and exciting projects at the county level such as net zero energy and data collection. and we are discussing the option of creating a new permit type for sustainability related projects, like electric vehicle charging and photovoltaics alongside green building and energy efficiency.
MGM: What has been your proudest moment in your position?
Bryan: I am very new to Montgomery County so I need to take a step back to my career at large to answer this. One of the things that makes me most happy is working with summer interns. As mentioned earlier, I interned at my first green building job and was hired on after graduation, so I see value in it. Over the years, I have worked directly with interns who have moved on to a wide variety of professional, sustainability-oriented jobs. A good friend of mine called me the Johnny Appleseed of government sustainability programs and I take that as a tremendous compliment.
MGM: What projects are you working on now that we should be watching?
Bryan: There is growing excitement in net zero energy. I am one of the founders of a local coalition focusing on NZE. I don’t have anything specific to point to yet, but I think it’s important to know that this is something the county values and wants to achieve for its citizens; I’m excited to be part of it. I created and launched a voluntary NZE program in DC so I feel that I am positioned to help Montgomery County bring this concept to reality soon.
MGM: What’s your favorite way to save energy in your home or workplace?
Bryan: Full disclosure, I do not own a home in Montgomery County, so it makes some of the deep energy efficiency changes challenging. I do however focus on humidity as a primary metric for comfort in our home. I believe a lot of folks think that you must lower the temperature in the summer to be comfortable, but the reality is that they are chasing humidity. We are able to set our thermostat higher because we dehumidify. We also use fully controllable LED lighting throughout our house. Additionally, we’re big proponents of reduced single use plastic so you will find all sorts of interesting daily use products in our house. Our backyard is very small, and we have dogs which makes composting a no-go so we recently signed up for a local compost pickup program and it’s been a tremendous help in reducing our landfill trash volume – I highly recommend it!
MGM: Outside of your role, what other activities or interests do you have?
Bryan: My family enjoys spending time outdoors. We aren’t picky and will take any opportunity to enjoy what Montgomery County has to offer. We are lucky to have family and friends throughout beautiful parts of the US from Texas, Ohio, Tennessee to Georgia and North Carolina and enjoy traveling to visit them. Now that my daughter is older, we can go on longer camping trips and take day long hikes. I will probably get some elbows for admitting this but my big non-sustainability related pleasure in life is auto sports and I am a big sim racer. I’ve been to the 24 hours of Le Mans and the 24 hours of Daytona; if it races, I’ll watch it! It’s been great to see the rapid rise of Formula E; the all-electric racing league. It would be amazing to host in our Nation’s Capital some day.