How Harold Turner made building an art and a science
BIA press release:
Harold Turner Jr. founded The HL Turner Group Inc. in Concord in 1990 and for over 30 years led his company’s efforts to “advance the technology, art and science of the built environment”.
The President and CEO, who retired last summer, brought his passion to build better and more sustainable buildings, schools and homes and the company’s work can be seen in the industries of New Hampshire and beyond.
Turner’s legacy in advancing building science and his commitment to volunteerism is honored by the Business and Industry Association, which will present him with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. BIA, the New Hampshire State Chamber of Commerce and leading business advocate, will present the award to Monier at their 108th Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony, presented by Eversource, from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on October 20 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester City Center Hotel. The event will be broadcast live with support from Bank of America.
Claira Monier, former executive director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, and Joseph Pepe, MD, retired CEO of CMC Healthcare System, will also receive Lifetime Achievement Awards, sponsored by Whelen Engineering Company.
Turner built his business by bringing together the right team to take building design to a new level, calling his staff a “pretty unique mix of professionals.” The HL Turner Group has consistently delivered award-winning environmental building designs that promote healthy buildings, sustainable design and enhanced learning environments.
“When you bring architects, engineers and building scientists together, you tend to get a different project, a better project,” he said. “I entered the workforce in the mid-1970s. The first company I worked for and stayed with for about 15 years was multidisciplinary with architects and engineers; two legs of the stool. “
The addition of building scientists has focused on ever expanding technologies for modern buildings. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the HL Turner group’s long use of displacement ventilation, which it adapted from Europe 30 years earlier. The company’s office building, built in 1998, is designed with displacement ventilation.
The concept brings air conditioning downwards, which pushes heat and pollutants up and out of the building. It allows the movement of less volume of air, but with a high percentage of fresh air, even to the point of using 100% fresh air. Many of Turner’s school designs in the 1990s were incorporated into displacement ventilation before the creation of LEED building standards, he said, adding that they had since been adopted into leadership standards in energy efficiency design.
“I don’t think we ever considered that we would be facing things like COVID or a pandemic level event,” Turner said. “It was about creating healthy indoor environments for workers and students. It is better that teachers teach and students learn.”
Turner’s brother, William, trained as a mechanical engineer at Northeastern University and a building scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. When Turner decided to go into business, William joined him and they set up this third leg of the stool.
“It was reflected in the work we did,” Turner said. “We took the best work of our architects, engineers and building scientists and worked together to build a better project. It has been an integral part of our practice for the past 30 years. “
The advancement of technology has been a constant in the growth of the HL Turner Group over more than 30 years. The technology keeps evolving and Turner said the key is to embrace it as soon as it becomes available and profitable. Adopting cutting-edge technology is not always easy, however. Turner built his first high-performance home in the mid-1980s when it was still too expensive to use all low-e glass windows.
“It’s really the minimum standard today,” he said, “but in 1985 the average homeowner couldn’t justify doing it because of the upfront cost. It is a constant effort. It is about taking advantage of innovation and technology and integrating them into a sustainable way. I made my last house in 2011-2012, a net zero energy house. It produces as much energy as it consumes. I did it in part to show that it was profitable 10 years ago. It was pushing the boundaries a bit at the time. “
Fast forward 10 years and there are many net zero energy buildings. Turner points out that more and more people are investing in new technology, costs are falling and usage is growing.
“It changes quickly, but it’s the fun part of being an engineer,” he said. “You can think of fun things and then you can do them. It’s not work if it’s fun. It just becomes a passion.”
The BIA Lifetime Achievement Award is the latest honor bestowed on Turner, who was named to NH Business Review’s New Hampshire 200 2020, which honors the state’s most influential business leaders. He also received the NHBR Business Excellence Award in 2019 and was named Business New Hampshire Magazine’s 2019 Business Leader of the Year.
Turner’s current volunteerism includes serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Granite Institute and a member of the Advisory Board for the Architectural Engineering Technology and Civil Engineering Programs of the NH Technical Institute. He is also a member of the NH Children’s Scholarship Fund Advisory Board and a Board Member of the Granite State Hydropower Association.
His previous volunteering for the New Hampshire business community included serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of BIA from 2001 to 2004, a rare achievement during a period of transition for BIA. Turner served for 20 years on the Board of Directors of the BIA. He then served the BIA for another six years as a representative on the United States Chamber of Commerce Council in Washington, DC Turner still praises the work of the 108-year-old BIA.
“I think it’s important that he still represents the blood of the New Hampshire business community,” he said. “We always used to joke that governors come and go every two years, but the BIA will always be there. It’s the enduring purpose of supporting business in New Hampshire.”
Tickets for BIA’s 108th Annual Dinner and Awards Celebration, presented by Eversource, cost $ 1,500 for a table of $ 10 or $ 150 per person and can be purchased at BIAofNH.com/events. For more information and sponsorship opportunities, call Lora McMahon at (603) 224-5388 ext. 101 or send an email to [email protected]
Rick Fabrizio is director of communications and public policy for the Business and Industry Association, the New Hampshire State Chamber of Commerce and a leading business advocate.
This press release was produced by the BIA. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.