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Green Advocate

Q&A with Travis Brungardt

A Kansas-based builder describes how he made his way into the building science community, where he has surrounded himself with giants

I first met Travis Brungardt when I was asked to join the BS* + Beer Show as a co-host. Travis’s creative way with words has always made my ears perk up. Based in Johnson County, Kansas, he is a seasoned builder and co-owner of Catalyst Construction, which he founded with Joe Cook in 2008. Travis started his local chapter of BS* + Beer, and is a great advocate for the industry on Instagram (@catalystbuilt) and in various in-person forums. He is a lifelong learner, which I deeply respect, and he represents a part of the country that doesn’t get a lot of coverage on GBA. (I’m working to change that.) And, because he often proclaims himself to be a newbie when it comes to building science, I thought getting his perspective would be valuable to the site, which is intended for all levels of building science enthusiasts.

Kiley Jacques: When were you first introduced to building science principles and what form did that introduction take?

Travis Brungardt: It was about 15 years ago, I was taking a class to get my contractor’s licensing. Mark LaLiberte, co-founder and president of Construction Instruction, was brought in to give a talk, “Introduction to the Building Envelope.” He inspired me. He talked about some of the things I had been doing for the production builder I was working with at the time. I thought I was good at those things, only to find out the critical details weren’t being carried out. For example, the idea that Tyvek can also be an air barrier if it is well detailed—I never thought about that, I just wanted to keep water out. Mark made me start to think differently about what I was doing.

KJ: What kind of obstacles do you face working in a…

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10 Comments

  1. Expert Member
    Armando Cobo | | #1

    This is a great story about a Remodeler/Builder who wants to do right for his clients, and in the process, absorbing every chance of learning from all the scientists, geeks and nerds of the BS world. The fact that he’s turned around that learning and developed a way to give back to the community, it’s remarkable, and I salute him.
    Thanks for showcasing a Builder wanting to make good in the industry, and I hope more Builders learn his example.
    Now, if he can only learn NOT to put BBQ sauce on a brisket…😝

    1. Travis Brungardt | | #7

      Just because KC BBQ is world famous for amazing sauces and spectacular burnt ends doesn’t mean I sauce MY brisket. My wife’s a Texan and I make brisket with a rub including salt, pepper and a fair amount of cayenne. No sauce required. Thanks for the otherwise kind words Armando. Come by for the nations best Q anytime!

  2. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #2

    Haha, thanks for the feedback, Armando. You definitely got the message I was trying to share.

  3. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #3

    Of the many silver linings I found in this weird year of Covid-19, one of them was getting to know Travis. He was the first to start an independent BS + Beer chapter and has been instrumental in spreading the word about BS + Beer local groups and the BS + Beer Show that we co-host with Kiley and Emily. His warm personality, endless curiosity, rigorous work ethic and reliable ability to articulate his thoughts have been key to our show's growth, and I'm sure his clients and colleagues find him as fun to work with as we do.

    I think the only way to know whether Travis' or Armando's barbeque is better is with a lot of tasting. Who's up for hosting a GBA live (or BS + Beer Live) once it's safe to do so?!

    1. GBA Editor
      Kiley Jacques | | #4

      I like the way you think, Mike Maines.

    2. Nathan Shirai | | #5

      Seems like that dovetails extremely well with the next in-person Summit, but if not, I'll volunteer my humble Chattanooga for that! Chattanooga BS* + Beer wouldn't have gotten off to such a great start without Travis' input early on (which also included lots of info from you, Mike). We can provide neutral territory for the BBQ competition, and we're close to the Carolinas which is another category of BBQ unto itself. And selfishly I'd like to get more BS* into our little corner of the Southeast. Thanks for everything all you guys are doing -- it's truly a service to our industry!

      1. Travis Brungardt | | #9

        I’m anxious to visit the Chattanooga chapter and see the great work you’ve been doing in-person Nathan. Thanks!

    3. Travis Brungardt | | #8

      Thanks Mike. My smoker will accommodate as many as are interested in visiting so cmon over! This year has been wild but the BS and Beer Show has definitely benefited from pandemic conditions that separate us in-person. Being only allowed to be virtually together has granted access to groups I would not otherwise have been able to join (Yours and Emily’s, Dan and Nicks in DC) and that’s been true for many of our guests as well.

  4. jkonst | | #6

    I've enjoyed getting to know Travis and hearing his perspective through the show (and Instagram), and I appreciated this write-up as well. Travis, if you want to swing out to New York in 2021, I've got a house I need someone to build!

    1. Travis Brungardt | | #10

      That’s a tough commute, but if you’re near Brooklyn and can supply Mighty Quinn’s brisket I’m listening

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