Michael Martin Tributes

For those of you who had the privilege to work with Michael Martin,Julius Ballanco’s column[March 2009, p. 10] reminds us of Michael’s passionate dedication to energy and water efficiency, and of his kind and gentle soul. For those of you who did not, it is an introduction to one of the handful of true leaders of California’s and the nation’s efficiency efforts during the past three decades. I did have the great pleasure of working with Michael on many projects over many years. Because both he and I were both fervent and opinionated, there’s probably no one in my career with whom I’ve argued more. But there is certainly no one whom I have respected more.

Jonathan Blees
Assistant Chief Counsel
California Energy Commission

Michael and I were colleagues in the same division at the California Energy Commission for many years, and for seven of them, I had the privilege of working with him in the appliance program. Seeing him almost daily unfortunately ended when I transferred to the Waste Board in Jan. 2008, but we remained friends. He and his lovely wife Maria helped me train to complete a half-marathon to benefit the American Stroke Association.  They had done a full marathon the year before, and used to pick me up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning and drive me to the training site, even though they weren’t doing the marathon that year, just so I could practice.  They even were at the airport, with a delightful sign congratulating me, when I returned. 

Julius captured the essence of Michael in his tribute. He was a wonderful gentle man, intelligent, humble and with a great sense of knowing what is “right and proper.”  I also enjoyed his sense of humor. Thank you for that tribute.

Elaine Hussey 
Sustainability Program,
Financial Assistance California 
Integrated Waste Management Board

Thank you so much Mr. Ballanco for your commentary about Michael Martin. I worked here at the Energy Commission with Michael every day for 18 years, and off-and-on for a couple years before that.

One slight correction to your article. Michael wasn’t working in the office just the week before his death - he died on a Thursday afternoon, and he was here the previous day (New Year’s Eve) until 7:30 or 8 p.m!

Thank you again for what you said about Michael. I can’t begin to express how much I miss him - not just as a colleague, but as a mentor and a very good friend.

Betty Chrisman
Appliances & Process Energy Office
Efficiency & Renewables Division
California Energy Commission

Mr. Ballanco, I very much enjoyed reading your tribute inpme. Somehow I felt a connection, perhaps because I too live in Indiana and, like Mr. Martin, was born in England. I did not know him, but by the end of reading your article I felt a little as if I did.

Martyn Furnish
CKC Consulting and Sales
Noblesville, IN

Residential Sprinklers

A huge “Thank You” to Julius Ballanco for his columns on residential fire sprinklers. The arguments against requiring them in light of the life-saving feature they provide are not very smart. Obviously, anything else mandated by the code will add cost to a project, but again, the minutes they provide to the occupants to either evacuate or have reduced injury far outweighs the costs in the event a fire occurs.

I recently completed construction of a single-story house and had a sprinkler system installed by a licensed fire sprinkler contractor. It cost about $10,000 for a house with about 4,000 square feet of occupied space (we did the basement, first floor living area, garage, and wood shop). That was about 2% of the total cost of construction. Our local code does not require residential sprinklers, but we wanted a more advanced house so we chose to install the sprinkler system.

Oh, and yes, we did get an insurance discount, about 5%. Not enough to pay for the sprinkler system in our lifetime, but then again, if we have less destruction should a fire occur, we feel better off. Your articles reinforce that we made the right choice.

Kirby Slear
Harrisburg, PA