Breaking the mould

Posted on 01/07/11

Breaking the mould - green jackets and red trousers

How do you change the world? Well, my view is that if you want to do so in anything like a reasonable timeframe, the idea of simply plodding along and conforming to the norms of business as usual isn't going to cut it. The real satisfaction of changing the world in terms of energy reduction, which is our ambition, will be if we manage to do so on our watch. Having a novel idea of how to reduce the energy consumption in the built environment is simply just the start.

A dear friend of mine once told me that there are more brilliant ideas discussed every Friday night "outside of the work environment!" than anyone might ever believe. However, very few of these actually turn into reality. Why? Well, the answer is not necessarily because most of these ideas are fundamentally flawed, although a number may well be - it is because there is a whole lot more to a new product or process than simply an idea. The idea is the beginning, and the really hard work only really starts after the genesis of the idea.


The steps needed to convert a novel idea into reality are the tough ones, and in fact the ones which require entrepreneurs to literally break the mould. In our case, taking the concept of winter mixing ventilation and building a product around that needed a great deal of the "new". The crucial ingredient is the "terrier" or "bulldog" factor - someone, and preferably a team, who simply won't give up and won't take no for answer. The can-do attitude, and will-do-anything approach from the team is the key to success.

At Breathing Buildings we have hired a team of not only ridiculously bright engineers, but people who don't stop and won't tire in the pursuit of the ultimate goal of changing the world. We are different! We have combined the brightest ventilation design engineers with the team who are responsible for manufacturing e-stack equipment and undertaking the site checks. This is a completely different way of helping the construction industry. No other natural ventilation equipment company has the talent on the design side which we have.

We are also passionate about getting the brightest and best mechanical engineers excited about the opportunities in the low energy building sector. We therefore spend time helping undergraduate students learn about the industry, the opportunities for their revolutionary ideas to take hold and make a difference, and of course about the problems which we face if we stand back and allow a business as usual attitude to smother innovation.

So what's the reference to the green jacket? Being a Fitzgerald, I have some Irish blood in me … albeit rather dilute by now. It was generations ago that the family moved over to England. However, being a fun-loving guy, I do enjoy St Patricks Day and sporting an eye-catching lime green jacket when I can (and even red trousers if I feel particularly loud). This is why the team sometimes refer to me as the "green jacket" guy - not because I am ex-military! I have worn it at both investor presentations as well as technical conferences, and interestingly, I still get reminded by attendees at those conferences that they remember the jacket which of course in turn helps them remember the Breathing Buildings story and technology. A good result for all.

So, what is the lesson learned? Well, it isn't to wear a colourful jacket. Remember Joseph had a pretty rough time for some of his life. The lesson is to think differently and to be outrageously passionate about transforming the world. If you are, well … then there is a chance you can make difference!

Shaun Fitzgerald

June 2011


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