The World of Integration

When we first started eSPACE, I could not get another ChMS to sit down and have a conversation about integration…and yet we were inundated with requests from churches to be able to integrate to their HVAC systems as well as their ChMS. What is a boy to do?!?!

I am not one to give up easily…so here are some things we did:

  1. We developed an HVAC integration with the Niagara Framework to integrate with Building Automation Systems that had a JACE.
  2. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.
  3. We kept developing eSPACE into the BEST Facility Management Software solution for churches.
  4. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.
  5. We developed integrations with other HVAC control solutions such as WiFi Thermostats and XML converters (for BACnet, LON and Modbus).
  6. We kept knocking on ChMS doors.

Persistence finally paid off! 

Let me tell you what is going on to make your church more energy and operational efficient:

  1. eSPACE now integrates with 13 ChMS applications…check them out HERE!
  2. COOLSPACE offers integration with 4 Wireless thermostats, the Niagara Framework and many other Building Automation systems that communicate BACnet, LON and Modbus.
  3. We are in testing with a number of Access Control systems (more on that later).
  4. We integrate with a number of Digital Signage companies.
  5. We have a WordPress Plugin to integrate your WordPress site to digital signage.
  6. Our Dev team is exploring integrations with lighting controls, security cameras and other systems.

The world of integration is here to stay and we are thrilled to be the leader in this area to serve churches. Join the integration revolution and give us a shout!


8 HVAC Trends for Facility Management

For most organizations, one of the most impactful aspects of their facility management and operations is their HVAC systems and the associated energy costs.  Given that, it is always a front of mind issue for facility managers, Business Administrators and other leaders. When you realize that 50-75% of an organizations utility bill is due to the HVAC system, it becomes a really important aspect to understand.

Early in my career, I had a mechanical engineer tell me that the only thing I needed to know about HVAC systems is that they “suck and blow.”  In essence, that is accurate…they suck air in through return vents and blow it back out through supply access points.  Seems pretty simple.  But technology, energy codes, environmental considerations and desire for efficiency has changed the landscape of the HVAC industry.

Below are trends that every facility owner, facility manager and organizational leader responsible for the stewarding of their facility should be aware of.

Building Code Changes – Depending on what state you are in, some of these code items are currently mandatory while in others, it is coming:

  • > Primary entrance doors to access rooms that are over 3,000 SF must have a vestibule (sanctuaries, gathering, large classrooms, etc.). Some people call this an “air/light lock”…but it is basically the requirement to have 2 sets of doors with the vestibule in between the sets of doors for any assembly space over 3,000 SF
  • > Demand control ventilation, using CO2 sensors that control and provide increase outdoor air for high occupancy spaces (i.e. worship, gathering large classrooms, etc). If you are building a new assembly space, you have to add CO2 sensors that will engage the fresh air intake portion of your system when CO2 leaves reach a certain level.

Open Protocol – The days of proprietary control systems is rapidly coming to a close thanks in part to the introduction and development of open protocol systems such as LON and BACnet:

LON – Local Operating Network – was one of the pioneers in this space, but its use is being overshadowed with the introduction and rapid adoption of BACnet

BACnet – Building Automation Control Network – has become the most popular open protocol and is widely supported by developers and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers)

Integration – You may wonder why “Open Protocol” is a trend on this list. The reason this is so critical is due to what is called the Internet of Things (IoT). One definition is:  “The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” Things talking to things.  In the HVAC world, it is thermostats talking to controllers and JACE’s.  It is BACnet compatible systems talking to your Event Scheduling Software. The open protocol systems allow for more freedom in developing “things” that talk to each other.  More on this another time.

Wireless – This should be surprise given all the wireless applications we use in nearly every aspect of our lives.  However…in the world of HVAC, wireless is NOT synonymous with Wi-Fi. Let me explain.

  • Wi-Fi – is a technology that allows electronic devices to connect to a wireless LAN (WLAN) network. The Wi-Fi Alliance defines Wi-Fi as any “wireless local area network” (WLAN) product based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 standards. In short, it is what most of us use to connect to the internet when at work, home or a coffee shop.
  • ZigBee – Wireless language for device connectivity. ZigBee is an IEEE 802.15.4-based specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital radios. It Is NOT Wi-Fi.
  • BACnet systems offer wireless components that use the BACnet protocol

VRV/VRF –Variable Refrigerant Volume (Flow) – The simplest example of this technology is what most of us might refer to a “mini-split” system.  But this category of HVAC units is far more encompassing than that and it is gaining popularity and acceptance at an increasing rate. VRF is an HVAC technology invented in Japan by the Daikin company in 1982. Like ductless mini-splits VRFs use refrigerant as the cooling and heating medium. This refrigerant is conditioned by a single outdoor condensing unit, and is circulated within the building to multiple fan-coil units (FCUs). This technology is on the move and will do so for years to come.

HVAC vs. AVLA (Audio, Video, Lighting and Acoustics) – if you have a sound system, then you know that in many cases the AVLA system is the tail that wages many facility and budget decisions.  I am not being critical.  We have just come to expect a higher level of sound in our spaces than just that of a megaphone or and AM radio sounding system.  With this requirement comes several considerations in the ambient noise that can be caused by the HVAC systems.  As such, attention must be given to:

  1. Vibration of units on the roof or in close proximity
  2. Installation of isolation curbs to assist in the reduction of vibration
  3. Air velocity…which incorporates fan speeds, duct size, duct location, register locations and design/shape.
  4. Larger lined ducts
  5. How to address “haze”. If your church uses haze, then you know what I mean.  If you do not use haze, then just ignore this. The particulate size of the haze can impact the “duct sensors” in your return air vents thus making the system think there is smoke, triggering the fire alarm…OOPS!

Refrigerant is changing…AGAIN!!!Yep…that is right! Once we had R-22 Freon that was phased out (although you can still get it) and replaced with R-410A as it was better for the environment.  This is the current refrigerant…but only until 2025 when ASHRAE will introduce a new format referred to as a “2L Flammable Refrigerant” (Name TBD).  Do you ever feel like the HVAC industry has learned a lesson from the computer industry? They change to “operation system” every so often making the old systems obsolete. BROTHER!

Residential ThermostatsHow many of you have bought a Nest or other wireless stat for your home.  They are pretty cool and in some cases the will work in a small commercial setting.  But before you rush out to Lowes to get your wireless stat, here are some considerations:

  1. Multiple Stages of Heating and Cooling
  2. Size of the building
  3. Number of buildings
  4. Ability of occupants to adjust temperature
  5. Variations in weekly/annual usage
  6. Type and age of the HVAC equipment

*These are all factors that need to be considered and vetted before investing in these residential options.

These 8 trends represent areas of consideration that you, as the steward of your facilities, must become familiar with and determine the best application of them for your facility.

Facility Stewardship Binder - SmalleSpace_Logo_Md

Anyone Interested in Saving Time, Energy and Money

Saving-Time-and-Money-With-Data-1080x675

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For most churches, their greatest consumer of energy is associated with the heating and cooling of their facilities.  In fact, for most churches, 50-75% of their utility consumption is due to HVAC usage.  To further magnify this matter, space utilization can be sporadic and unpredictable in a ministry setting thus making the scheduling of the HVAC systems even more challenging.

Now, just imagine that there is a “user-friendly” room and event scheduling solution that was 100% web based and was easy to use and cost effective. In addition, what if this software solution had the capacity of interfacing with your HVAC system(s) allowing you to engage and disengage the systems based on actual usage.  Imagine not having to enter data in your room scheduling software and again in your Building Automation System (BAS) or running from thermostat to thermostat to set temperatures every day. Even better yet, imagine reducing your utility costs by 20% or more as well as saving on the wear and tear of equipment that runs when not needed…Imagine No More

Cool Solutions Group/eSPACE has developed COOL SPACE to bring these concepts to reality.  COOL SPACE provides an interface between eSPACE Event Scheduler and your HVAC systems.

CoolSpace_Logo-01

Hear are just some of the benefits of this application:

> Schedules your HVAC systems from a web based event/room scheduling software

> Provides a user-friendly, browser based user interface to allow for remote access

> Does not require changing major HVAC equipment

> Can be installed to any HVAC system that uses a JACE or that plans to transition to a JACE

> Can save energy costs and increase staff efficiency

Given the economy the past few years, we have found more organizations being intentional about reducing operational costs…and energy is a major factor.  In light of that we have seen an exponential increase in inquiries and installations of COOL SPACE just in the past 2-3 months. But don’t take our word for it…here what others are saying:

We have been using eSPACE with COOL SPACE for three years, and our church saw a 30% reduction in utility expense immediately after installation.  The interface is easy to manage, easy to teach to our staff, and we can make adjustments from anywhere.  COOL SPACE has now paid for itself several times over in return on investment as we’ve saved on electric bills and maintenance.  No more lock-boxes on thermostats, and no more forgetting to “turn the air up on the way out” after a service or event. Hank Garner, Executive Pastor, The First Family | First Baptist Church, Columbia, TN

Our church has been a client of eSPACE Event Scheduling and COOL SPACE for around 3 years. Using this cloud based software has allowed us to save around 25% on utilities and use those funds toward ministry and missions of the church to help grow the Kingdom. Very easy to use product and great customer service! Jeff McClanahan,  CPA, Living Hope Baptist Church, Bowling Green KY

Contact us today for more information…don’t forget to get your copy of the FACILITY STEWARDSHIP MANUAL!

Facility Stewardship Binder - Small

 

A JACE Can Increase Efficiency (and save money)

What is a JACE you ask?

If you are intimately involved with your facilities HVAC system controls, you probably already know what a JACE is and whether or not your system includes this device or one very similar (as there are various names by different suppliers for this component)

To get started, let’s look at some terminology related to the building automation industry to set the table:

Niagara AX/4 – The Niagara Framework is a universal software infrastructure that allows organizations to easily build custom, Web-enabled applications for accessing, automating and controlling “smart” devices in real-time over the Internet.

BACnet (Building Automation and Control networks) – A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks. A data communication protocol is a set of rules governing the exchange of data over a computer network. The rules take the form of a written specification that spells out what is required to conform to the protocol.

JACE  (Java Application Control Engine) – In order to integrate diverse systems, a physical connection to a device’s network is required. A JACE is a mechanism/device that provides connectivity to systems (HVAC, electrical…even security in some instances) within a building via the Niagara framework. By connecting common network protocols such as LonWorks, BACnet, and Modbus, along with many proprietary networks a unified system without seams emerges.

Enough technical terms.  Here is the long and short of the above.

The building automation industry…including HVAC, electrical, IT, security, etc… has developed several means, methods and protocols to increase the efficiency of building operations…thus saving money and time. The Niagara Framework is by far the most popular of the frameworks that we have encountered…and as such, BACnet protocol has become the most commonly used protocol…which in turn utilizes the JACE (think of it as the control module or “language” translator) as its access point to send the correct commands the various automation systems.

In the church world, the above is most commonly used in HVAC systems…but it is not limited to that.  HOWEVER…we need to note that utilizing the above with systems such as electrical and security are more complex and require significant hardware and equipment upgrades at the facility level.

So what does this mean to you?

One of the challenges many churches have is getting their HVAC system (and others) to operate based on room and space utilization. If you do not have a JACE or other BAS (Building Automation System) to control your HVAC schedule, you are relegated to running around your facility turning units on and off at prescribed times…or merely turning them on in the AM and turning them off at night..which is highly INEFFICIENT. Others may have programmable stats…which is a good first step, but still rely on a ton of human interaction and are usually limited to one schedule per day meaning the units may turn on in the AM, but may stay on all day, even if the space is not in use.

If you do have a BAS, you will be able to set schedules within the system to determine when the system needs to come on and off based on your room utilization.  The challenge we have seen with this approach is that if you also use a room/event scheduling software, you have to double enter all your events.  In most cases, you enter your event in the room/event scheduling software…get it approved…then print out the list of daily or weekly events…give that stack of paper to a facility manager or other team member…and they sit for “X” amount of time (usually hours) and  re-enter ALL that data again into the BAS.  WOW…sure sounds tedious. What complicates this process is when an event is added or deleted in the room/event scheduler…but not communicated to the BAS.  The possibility of incident, such as that, increases due to the reliance on human interaction.

That is where the JACE and COOL SPACE comes in.

If you have a JACE on site…and you want to interface your room/event scheduler to your HVAC systems, we have developed a pretty simple way to do that with our eSPACE and COOL SPACE applications.  We have developer a JACE “driver” (small piece of software that is installed in a JACE) that communicates with our eSPACE Event Scheduler allowing the Event Scheduler to communicate with your HVAC systems. YEAH!

> Time and energy savings just increased.

> Efficiency increases.

> Facility occupants, facility staff and business administrator’s joy just increased.

If you have a JACE…or want to consider obtaining a JACE…drop an e-mail to info@coolsolutionsgroup.com or call us at 1-888-448-5664.