If you Google “demolition videos” you’ll find a seemingly unlimited number of videos of commercial buildings being imploded, and bulldozers mowing down houses.

99% of these videos are posted with gleeful pride. They’re testament to growth and progress. Wiping old buildings off the face of the earth to make way for newer, bigger, and better buildings.

Most cities in America regard this kind of change as positive. That is not how we define progress in New Orleans. Here, a house can be riddled with termites, or a commercial building poisoned by asbestos, and the only conversations we have are about how to save these buildings.

Our desire to save our houses, shops and commercial buildings means that people who work in construction here have to develop special skills. We expect a renovated or restored house to have all the benefits of new construction, but still look like a traditional New Orleans home. We’re not surprised when a new restaurant or coffee shop looks architecturally hip and modern, but retains the bones of its 19th century origins.

You don’t find those types of construction skills just anywhere. They are, however, the mainstay of Ryan Mayer’s Mayer Building Company. Mayer Building Company is responsible for an extensive portfolio of local commercial construction that includes cafes, stores, schools, office buildings, and hospitals.

Ryan Mayer, his Mayer Building Company specializes in New Orleans commercial construction which is often equal parts construction, restoration and preservation

Ryan Mayer, his Mayer Building Company specializes in New Orleans commercial construction which is often equal parts construction, restoration and preservation

It’s not like every building in New Orleans was originally fabulous and just needs a dose of TLC to be restored. We have our share of office buildings filled with asbestos, abandoned gas stations with buried storage tanks leaking oil into the soil, and homes that behind the sheetrock are Petrie dishes of mold.

How do you deal with construction and real estate issues like this? And when you do deal with them, how do you stay compliant with all the health, safety, and even geological requirements mandated by federal, state, and local regulations?

Well, one way of taking care of all of these issues is to turn to a local environmental consultancy company called Leaaf Environmental. Leaaf’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer is Jesse Hoppes.

Jesse Hoppes, in commercial real estate Leaaf Environmental might not be the business you love but it's the business you need

Jesse Hoppes, in commercial real estate Leaaf Environmental might not be the business you love but it’s the business you need

We hear a lot these days about “silos.” How we’re living in our own self-selected bubbles, getting our news and information from sources that just reinforce what we already believe. For a lot of us that’s true. But the one thing we can’t silo is the actual real physical world we live in.

Here in New Orleans, although we have our political differences about how to achieve it, we tend to agree on what our city should look like. And we also agree that the mostly unseen environment beneath the buildings we’re working to preserve should be maintained in a way that promotes the health and longevity of both the city and its citizens. Ryan Mayer’s and Jesse Hoppes’ professional lives are dedicated to each of these respective goals.

Ryan Mayer, Jesse Hoppes, Peter Ricchiuti, Out to Lunch at NOLA Brewing

Ryan Mayer, Jesse Hoppes, Peter Ricchiuti, Out to Lunch at NOLA Brewing

Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur.