Charla serves as the President Elect for the Southeast Region Chapter Board of Directors of the BCxA, and was competitively selected for a BCxA “20 Under 40” Award in 2020.
Charla Gruber has been involved in building commissioning for a relatively short time, considering the long strides she’s taken in less than a decade, but she’s been involved in investigating, testing and documenting for most of her life. She seems driven by curiosity, science, compassion and hard work. She pretty much went into commissioning as a career choice, right from the start.
Charla says, “I was always around construction and plumbing growing up. My family started a small plumbing business when I was a teenager and I worked for the company during school breaks and on weekends.”
How Charla got to now:
“I found a love for physics that came from experimenting in my high school physics and chemistry classes with Mrs. Hamilton. I learned that I had a very analytical brain and because of that, I decided to pursue physics.”
She was accepted with an academic scholarship to Agnes Scott College, a women’s liberal arts college (co-ed at the graduate level). During those four years she participated in varsity soccer, several academic groups, and Habitat for Humanity.
She worked in the family business and during her last two years she was a Teaching Assistant, preparing the lab for student experiments; repairing and testing lab equipment; supervising student use of tools and materials; maintaining inventory records and meticulously documenting lab incidents.
While at Agnes Scott, she was 1 of 30 students selected to participate in Georgia Tech's "Bridge to Business" intensive studies program, which included accounting, finance, negotiation, and managerial accounting.
“I graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2012 with a Physics degree and took a gap year. My plan was to continue to earn a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and was accepted into the program at the University of Alabama.” Due to the economy at that time, Charla explains, she couldn’t afford to stay in grad school but completed coursework that included Internal Combustion Engines and Fluid Dynamics — surely proving useful for systems commissioning.
At the time during the recession, Charla had a hard time finding a job, so she worked with her family. Awhile later, a friend in commissioning told her about an open internship at the company where he worked — “seven years later, here I am, Project Manager at that same company, Total Building Commissioning, Inc.”
We also asked Charla:
What drives/motivates you every day? I take pride in my work. It’s kind of an old-fashioned mentality to take pride in one’s work, but it’s something that was instilled in me from a young age. I learned to have a strong work ethic from my family. They always try to do their job the right way the first time around.
How do you think the CxP role might change as a result of the current pandemic? I expect the commissioning field to grow tremendously. More building owners will look to commissioning to solve indoor air quality concerns and to protect their tenants and occupants.
What advice do you have for people entering the CxP profession? Try to learn from everyone. That includes knowledgeable contractors, manufacturers, designers, and architects. Don't just think that because you're a CxP that there’s nothing for you to learn. Manufacturer technicians can teach you a lot about the intricacies of their equipment. If you’re curious about something, ask the start-up techs and the seasoned professionals who work in the field.
Also, commissioning is a smoother process when viewed as a team effort. Commissioning is not about “sticking it to the contractors.” You’re always going to run across individuals who are difficult to work with, but intentionally pissing people off just because you can doesn’t get anyone anywhere - least of all, your client.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in this field? I work on a lot of school projects and many are in low-income areas. It’s nice to know that my work helps provide them with a safe and comfortable learning environment.
What’s one fun thing no one knows about you? I’m a huge soccer fan and a “Founding Member'' of the Atlanta United FC (Football Club). I enjoy attending as many of the games as possible with my family.
 For the third year in a row, Agnes Scott College is ranked No. 1 Most Innovative School in the country among national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report in its 2021 edition of Best Colleges.