Getting to Know Dan O'Donnell

Nov 01, 2017

Written by: Tom Klaers, Clean Response

O'Donnell, Dan.jpgDan O’Donnell is a Chief Building Engineer for The RMR Group, and offices at the 330 South 2nd Avenue building. He is responsible for The RMR Group properties in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago, and he frequently travels to properties in these other markets. Dan has BOMI Service Maintenance Technician (SMT), and Service Maintenance Administrator (SMA) certifications.

I recently sat down with Dan to learn a little more about his career, experiences with BOMA, and his personal life.

How did you become a building engineer?

I began working as a maintenance tech/engineer at Appletree Square in Bloomington part time during my senior year of high school. I worked in that position through two years of college and two years of trade school. After graduating from Dunwoody College of Technology, I left Appletree Properties to pursue a career in the HVAC industry as a pipefitter in local union 539.

After working in the HVAC industry for nearly 3 years I was asked to come back to Appletree Square as the Chief Engineer for a team of five building engineers. I accepted that role and shortly after, I joined BOMA, with Art Olafson serving at that time as the Executive Director.

Where else have you worked prior to your current position?

Prior to working here at The RMR Group, I worked for Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq, Opus Property Services, Carlson Real Estate Company, Koll Management Services, and Appletree Properties Inc.

What has surprised you the most about being a building engineer?

What has surprised me the most is how versatile the industry is. You need to have a significant amount of knowledge in so many different areas of building systems, operations, and construction. The items you need to have a working knowledge of include: lighting systems, high and low voltage electrical systems, concrete, asphalt, roof/curtainwall systems, HVAC, plumbing systems, water treatment, janitorial, security, environmental regulations, and codes and standards…just to name a few.

What is the weirdest problem you have had to deal with as a building engineer?

Some of the weirdest situations I have experienced were related to building security, but operationally, dealing with building pressure and stack effect issues can be the most difficult to address and they have very strange impacts on the building. These issues can prevent doors from closing, make them difficult to open, prevent elevator doors from closing, and waste great amounts of energy. 

Have you ever had a favorite tenant?

Yes, I have had tenants over the years that I have enjoyed dealing with more than others, and in a few cases, I have created friendships. It seems like having to go through a difficult situation or two with a tenant has created a stronger relationship.

What was the best part of being the President of the BOMA Engineers Association?

I enjoyed the close interaction with the BOMA staff, and the networking and camaraderie with my engineering peers. I also feel that being President of the Engineers Association helped me to advance my career.

What are some of the benefits of being a BOMA Engineers Association member?

Some of the benefits are:

  • The educational opportunities, which include monthly engineer meetings, building tours, the BOMI SMT/SMA/FMA/RPA programs, and the medical building group educational seminars 
  • Networking with BOMA staff, associate members, property management peers, and engineering peers

What advice would you give a new building engineer?

Become active in BOMA and other applicable engineering organizations. Always continue to look for educational opportunities to continue to learn and grow in the industry. Keep up with technology and focus on new trends such as lighting systems, HVAC systems, energy efficient operations, and sustainability. 

What do you like to do with your free time?

I like taking daily walks with my wife Maryann, fishing, hunting, golfing, playing tennis, attending concerts, and spending time with friends and family.

Category: Industry Insights

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