Blog : James Petersen named Granite State ASHRAE Chapter Engineer of the Year

By John | Jun 2, 2015 | in

by Ken Johnson

PORTSMOUTH - James Petersen, principle engineer and founder of Petersen Engineering in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was named the 2015 Engineer of the Year by the Granite State Chapter of ASHRAE.

In a recent release, the Granite State Chapter of ASHRAE said they are, “pleased to present their Engineer of the Year Award for 2015 to James Petersen with our thanks for his outstanding works. We hope that others in our profession will see him as a role model for others to follow.”

In the nearly three decades he's worked in the industry, Petersen has forged a reputation as an engineer concerned with quality and sustainability for every project he's done.

“I've been working away for 29 years trying to make buildings better,” Petersen said. “And most of the time it is hard work and when you get a surprise recognition like this it feels pretty good.”

ASHRAE (American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers) is the primary professional organization for people who work in HVAC engineering. Petersen has been a member with ASHRAE since he started working in HVAC in 1986, and has been a member of the Granite State Chapter of ASHRAE since its inception in 1987.

Petersen's nomination for Engineer of the Year was endorsed by his clients, organizations he has done pro-bono work for, and his employees. Petersen holds a BA in Philosophy and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire and is a registered professional engineer in seven states and Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1992, Petersen Engineering began with HVAC and plumbing design and has since grown to include building science, enclosure design and integrated design. A primary focus of Petersen's when designing a project is to reduce dramatically the amount of energy needed for heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water. The engineers that work at Petersen Engineering have a common passion for improving energy efficiency in buildings.

“It feels like I was born hardwired to be a steward of the environment,” Petersen said. “As Petersen Engineering has grown our reputation as sustainability experts has spread beyond my expectations.”

In his own right, Petersen is a strong advocate for green and environmentally sustainable practices. Petersen Engineering is a corporate business partner with the Portsmouth-based Green Alliance, a union of environmentally conscious businesses and individual members, which works to educate the public about sustainable business and buying practices.

Petersen has even converted his company's offices, located on Maplewood Avenue, in a historic 1804 federal-style building, into a space that can compete with any new building for energy conservation and environmental stewardship, while keeping it to the strict standards of the Portsmouth Historic District Commission.

Petersen and Petersen Engineering are presently hard at work with their ongoing projects and new projects that they are just starting. Among other projects currently Petersen is working on the upgrades to the Portsmouth Waste Water Treatment Plant at Peirce Island, a 100,000 square foot addition to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts, and the Lewis Gathering Center corporate retreat, located in Kensington, New Hampshire, and designed to meet Passive House Certification.

“Passive House certified designs reduce the energy required for heating by 85% less than that necessary to heat an equivalent a code compliant building,” Petersen said.

Petersen is also working on Avesta Housing's 28 unit affordable senior housing project which is currently under construction in downtown South Berwick, Maine. And the firm just completed the construction documents for the occupied rehabilitation of a 12 story building, built circa 1900, located on Chauncey Street in downtown Boston featuring 88 units of affordable apartments and ground floor retail.

Some of the pro bono projects Petersen is working on are an expansion of the Seacoast Waldorf School in Eliot, Maine, to expand the school to pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade, and replacement of the facility mechanical systems at the Portsmouth Indoor Pool.

“It is very rewarding to play a meaningful role in creating better buildings now totaling hundreds of thousands of square feet each year,” Petersen said. “With each passing year we have greater influence in elevating the performance of buildings on behalf of our clients, building occupants and the planet, and that keeps me going.”

Petersen Engineering as an active member of the Green Alliance, a union of over 90 green businesses focused across New Hampshire, southern Maine, and northern Massachusetts. The GA aims to promote and implement sustainable, environmentally friendly business practices with all of its members. Not a member? Become a member for $25 and join us on our Isles of Shoals crusie for free!