Carmy Robertson: Unpuzzling Home Performance

Carmy Robertson

Building Analyst/Project Manager for Central Air

Carmy Richardson Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.Carmy has always been mechanically inclined, able to take things apart and put them back together. Her initial career steps toward carpentry were sidetracked when she discovered a long waiting list for training. Instead, she turned to another interest: energy. Through one of her electrician friends, Carmy learned about Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. OTI is a nonprofit organization based in Portland that trains and mentors women in the electrical, mechanical, highway and utility trades.

At OTI, Carmy worked closely with her instructors, brushed up on her math skills, took field trips to different unions and spent field days in hands-on projects. One field day, Carmy found herself and a classmate rebuilding the stairs to a women’s shelter that weren’t up to code—a project Carmy’s still able to be proud of this day when she drives by.

After just a few weeks of training through OTI, Carmy felt more prepared than ever to interview for the kind of job she really wanted.

“When you’re approaching the construction field,” as Carmy explains the interview, “go in ready to work!”

In her new job with a local contractor, Carmy’s first assignment was an Enhabit project through the Portland pilot.

“Everybody was learning something!” Carmy says of her first project, part of the Clean Energy Works pilot. Carmy felt fortunate that the assignment was new to everyone, all at once.

It didn’t take long for Carmy to fall in love with the work of home performance. Now, Carmy sees each house as a challenge, a puzzle she’s specially trained to be able to take apart and put back together. She also loves building relationships with her homeowners. As a home performance contractor, Carmy becomes a part of her clients’ lives; she’s welcomed into their homes.

“I have the utmost respect for my homeowners,” Carmy says. “I get to see their houses grow into energy-saving homes—it’s a gift.”

Houses make you think, Carmy says. She goes where people don’t go even in their own homes (the attics, the crawlspaces) and sees things homeowners don’t see—such as the potential for danger, like radon gas. Carmy is happy to see more radon projects completed this year now that Enhabit offers the radon testing service. Recently, Carmy finished a project in which the home tested positive for radon levels above 15, when over 4 is considered dangerous. The homeowners had been living there for 47 years. For Carmy, the best part of her job is being able to gain an intimate knowledge of a home, in order to better address its potential issues.

“It’s nice to leave the home thinking, ‘I’ve fixed it, and they’re safe.’”

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