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Milrose Employee Spotlight: John Secreti, RA, CEO, LEED AP

Milrose is thrilled to welcome back John Secreti, RA, CEO, LEED AP to our Code and Zoning Department. John previously worked for Milrose from 2010 to 2014 as a Code and Zoning Analyst and he rejoins us today as our Senior Code and Zoning Analyst. John brings a wealth of expertise in the interpretation and application of the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York, the 2014 New York City Construction Codes, the 1968 and 1938 New York City Building Codes, the NYS Uniform Fire Prevention & Building Code, the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, the NY City Housing Maintenance Code, the New York City Energy Conservation Code, I-Codes ASTM, NFPA and ADA Standards.
Join us as we catch up with John in our Employee Spotlight interview below.
  1. Welcome back to Milrose! Could you tell me about how you started your career in architecture and some of the roles you have held that prepared you for your current role?
Yes, I've been in the industry about 35 years now. I started with Emery Roth & Sons back in 1984 and worked with them for 10 years. I began as a Junior Draftsman and worked my way up to Senior Job Captain and CAD manager. It was a great office to work for. From there, I went on to SLCE. I worked with them for a couple of years and gained experience working on schools and hospitals. Then I went on to FXFOWLE and I was with them for about 8-plus years. At FXFOWLE, I had the opportunity to work on a lot of iconic projects like 3 Times Square and the New York Times Building. From there I went on to SOM where I worked on a lot of overseas projects. Then from SOM, I came to Milrose for about four years and then moved over to STV for five years and served as their Chief Code Compliance Officer and Specifications Manager.
  1. What is your current role at Milrose and what are your responsibilities?
As the Senior Code and Zoning Consultant, I'm responsible for reviewing any number of projects from interior alterations to high-rise new buildings, conducting zoning feasibility studies and evaluating code compliance.
  1. Any major changes you have noticed in the company since when you were here 5 years ago?
The biggest one is their move to the 17th floor - there’s definitely more people on staff. The firm was pretty busy when I was here five years ago, and it remains busy today. They were just coming off the decline in 2008 when I started so business was really ramping up and there was a lot of work to be done.
  1. Are there any big changes you’ve noticed in the industry over the past five years?
Construction seems to be at an all-time high in New York City right now. In the last five years there hasn't been much in terms of substantial code changes but there are forthcoming revisions to the international codes that are going to be incorporated into the next editions of the New York City and New York State codes. That will probably happen before the year is over.
  1. You are a New York State Code Enforcement Official, can you tell me more about the process for becoming a code official and what your certification entails?
My former employer would describe it as being “the hardest program in the world to get into”. It took about two years to get into. You have to apply to get into it and then once you’re accepted, it's a series of courses that run three days consecutively for six different cycles and at the end of each course there's an exam that you have to pass. At the end of the whole cycle then you become certified by New York State as a code enforcement official.
The hardest part was getting into it because they give priority to people that work for municipalities or government agencies. So you could apply as soon as the notice comes out for the next code cycle but someone from a municipal agency would be given priority.
  1. What do you have to do to maintain the CEO certification?
They mandate that you keep up with 24 Continuing Education Credits a year, which is quite substantial compared to what I must take for my RA licensure with the state. You have to take all 24 credits within a 12-month period and you can't overlap or carry any credits over.
  1. Can you tell me about your LEED certification – when did you get the certification and how have you applied it in your career?
Yes, I got that a long time ago, probably close to 20 years ago now. Having a knowledge of sustainability has helped on projects. Additionally, by having a LEED accredited professional on a project you automatically receive a LEED point towards LEED certification for the project. Also, I’ve found that the clients have been very receptive to having a LEED accredited professional on the project for our knowledge and what we can contribute to the project in general.
  1. Do you have any favorite projects you have worked on?
My favorite projects have always been office buildings, apartment buildings, and schools. I guess my two favorite projects of my career were 3 Times Square and the New York Times building. The New York Times building went above and beyond any LEED requirements or energy requirements mandated at that time, so it was quite unique. During my time at Milrose, I have had the opportunity to work on a lot of interesting projects such as Brooklyn Navy Yard, Yankee Stadium, and Columbia University Medical Center. CUMC was a very challenging and enjoyable project to work on - it was an all glass building with a very unique shape that pushed the boundaries on codes and zoning. It was very detailed and a real challenge.
  1. What excites you about the work you are doing?
I've always had a great interest and love for dealing with codes. When I started in this business, I never thought I was going to be another Frank Lloyd Wright. I had the benefit of having really good mentors when I first started that were just top of class in their knowledge with the code. I always took a great interest in the code and really wanted to make a difference for the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
  1. What are your thoughts on the importance of mentoring in career development?
I was very fortunate to have great mentors and teachers in my career. Through STV, I had the opportunity to serve as a mentor for the ACE (Architecture Construction Engineering) Mentorship Program and I was very happy to get involved with it and give something back. It’s a great program where high school students interested in architecture, engineering, and construction would come by the office weekly and we would teach them the different aspects of the construction and architecture industry. They had the opportunity to work on a project from inception to completion, build a model, and see all the different roles that are involved in making that project a reality. The students really enjoyed it and I enjoyed it.
  1. What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to spend all my free time with my wife. I also like to see my children as much as I can. My daughter lives in California and my son lives out in Riverhead. 
  1. Is there anything else you would like to share?
It's a privilege and a pleasure to be back. There is a real talented pool of people here. It's a privilege to work with them.
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