Early Christmas Gift for All Churches

Does your church have a facility? Then here is a GIFT for you! I know we still have several weeks before Christmas, but this is an early gift you will want to unwrap sooner rather than later.

Church facility management is the responsibility of all churches…any size…everywhere…all denominations…all colors…all styles. Get my point?!?!

That is why Cool Solutions Group developed and released Church Facility Management Solutions (CFMS) as a completely FREE online membership community. The data provided…the content…the resources…the webinars…the access to other church professionals…the access to vendors and the like is our GIFT TO YOU!

If you have not already checked it out, your FREE CFMS membership provides you with:

  1. Weekly Information sent directly to you to help you be proactive and intentional with the care of your facility.
  2. Online Community so that you can get input and feedback from hundreds of other church and facility leaders.
  3. Monthly Webinars by industry professionals who provide relevant information and resources for your church facility management.
  4. Vetted Vendors will put a list of qualified vendors at your fingertips with the assurance that they have been pre-qualified by our team…and they do not pay to be on this list.
  5. Free Resources are developed and made available to members including worksheets, forms, policy docs, job descriptions, etc.
  6. Availability to Consulting and Training Services.

Join us TODAY completely FREE!

Regardless of your church size, you need to be thinking about the best use and management of your facilities. There is no better place than this community. It offers the best of church facility expertise along with peer learning. You should not be without this resource!

Thom S. Rainer, President and CEO

LifeWay Christian Resources

Church Answers

We Focus On Your Facility…

…so you can focus on your mission.

That is more than just a tagline for our team.  This WHO we are.  It is WHY we do what we do. That is HOW we do what we do.

I am yet to find a pastor that went to seminary with the primary reason of focusing their energies, time and ministry on a building. I know a few Business Administrators and Executive Pastor’s that have previous experience in the world of the built environment…but that is not WHY they got into vocational ministry.

And yet…how many churches in America could continue to function without a facility? I dare say that every church…the body of believers…in North America relies on a facility in some form or fashion.  This reliance may be on a physical structure that they assemble in to worship, educate, disciple and/or meet the needs of others.  If you are a “home-based” church, you are reliant on a house or similar.  If you are 100% internet based, your church is still reliant on a facility to host your servers…to produce video and audio content.

I get it…the “church” is NOT a building.  I preach that at every speaking engagement and project we serve on.  The building will never save a soul.  It will never disciple a Christ-follower.  And yet, we have a reliance on it. I also get that this is a “First-World” issue. All of us have pointed to how the body of Christ can function in very austere settings in other countries.  And yet, here we are…reliant on a built environment.

So what are you to do?

First, be thankful we have such facilities to assist us in spreading the gospel.  Don’t despise it.

Second, don’t take it for granted or take a posture that we are entitled to these physical blessings.  Money does not grow on trees, as we all know, and it requires money to own a facility.  Did you notice I did not say BUILD…I said OWN.  When you evaluate the cost to own a facility, 71-80% of the total cost of ownership is in the OPERATIONAL costs…and usually, only 20% (over a 40 year period) is the cost to build.

Thirdly, do not try to go it alone.  As a ministry leader, you need to focus on the ministry, mission, and vision of what God has called you to.  That means you need to rely on others to plan, build, and care for your building. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  1. Hire the needed people on your staff to steward what has been entrusted to you
  2. Adequately fund your General Maintenance budget to avoid deferred maintenance
  3. Outsource duties and tasks to specialists (i.e. HVAC companies for Preventive Maintenance)
  4. Set aside appropriate Capital Reserves for the inevitable future costs
  5. Obtain a firm grasp on your current facility needs related to space allocation and Facility Condition
  6. Implement systems and processes to increase operational efficiencies (and energy efficiencies) such as software applications, system integrations, policies and procedures, workflows, etc.

Need some help to get started?  Let us know how we can help.

10 Steps to Preparing Your Facility for Winter

Fall is here which means winter is right around the corner. In fact, it happens this same time every year, so do not be taken off guard.

Here are 10 steps you should take to prepare for winter:

There are probably 100 other things that can and should be done, but the above is a great place to start.

Stay Warm and safe!

We’re hiring a Marketing Assistant.  Click HERE to learn more.

Your Church Has Been Offered a Facility…Now What?

I was privileged to recently sit with Dr. Thom Rainer and talk about a significant and growing topic…the “adoption” of a used facility.

Dr. Rainer, Jonathan Howe and I discussed facility management and why a free building could be the most expensive building your church has.

Some highlights from this episode include:

  • Total annual operational costs of your church building should run between $5.50-$7.00 per square foot.
  • Does your church facility speak the same language that your church culture speaks?
  • Never accept a free facility without a facility assessment to determine how much it’s really going to cost you.
  • Does your church truly have a grasp on how much your facility costs to run?

Listen to the entire podcast HERE.

Where’s My Money!

Let’s face it, you are more than likely asked to accomplish a great deal with minimal resources, especially funding. I wish it was different, but it is a reality in the church facility world. Another reality is that as technology improves, and the Internet of Things continues to expand, leveraging technology to gain savings is a real way to do more for less…eventually.

Unfortunately for us, to leverage the long-term savings on emerging technology will generally require an upfront investment. In that investment, those figures can be a hard pill to swallow. Consider an average facility that wants to install 20 WIFI stats and integrate them with their scheduler…that project cost could easily be around $6500. For a facility looking at saving money, how do you justify the investment?

That is where learning how to calculate a return on investment (ROI) is critical for every facility steward. The concept is simple, but the execution is difficult. In general terms, a ROI will give you a qualified estimate as to how long your investment will be paid off through (typically) operational savings. Every moment after that point would then be considered savings (or newly available dollars for other areas).

A simple ROI formula is [(Gain from Investment-Cost of Investment)/ Cost of Investment]. Because it gives you a percentage, it is easy to compare returns from different investments. For us, we are trying to justify an investment by providing an estimated time it achieves a return of 0 (meaning we have saved enough to pay back project cost). Once it is paid back, theoretically it is now additional income (or rather reduced operating expenditures).

So, how would we approach it as a facility steward? Energy Star states that with simple energy efficiency measures, facilities can achieve 2-10% savings annually on their costs. More aggressive programs can achieve up to 60% savings. I recommend that you are conservative with your target and use a reduction potential of 18%. If you are serious about saving money, 18% is easily attained.

How about a practical example. Remember the church from above, a project cost of $6500 to invest in connected stats. Let’s say their monthly utility bill is $7000. (I know, for many of you that number would be awesome). If they could achieve an 18% per month reduction in utility bills ($7000x .18 =$1260), they could save $1260 a month. Taking the project cost divided by the savings ($6500/$1260= 5.2) tells us that in a bit over five months the ROI is at 0%. Every month after the five-month point the church has $1200 that can be invested elsewhere. The counter-point to the example is this: for every month that you do not invest, you are spending $1200 you shouldn’t have to. In 12 months if you do the investment, you gain approximately $8400, if you do not you spend an extra $14,400.

This is very simplistic in presentation, but this method is easy to understand and reproduce. If you want to start getting deeper, then for ROI’s in energy savings you can start getting in to KwH difference and so forth. The facility steward should always include an ROI when presenting or asking others to approve an efficiency project. The ROI is a critical part of an effective decision-making process. By leveraging emerging technology to improve efficiency, it is an actual investment into the facility. The “sticker shock” that comes with many of these types of projects needs a tempering figure.

When you have taken the time to evaluate the ROI on total project completion, then you can also consider ways to spread the project out. Many times, companies will let you purchase in stages to spread out the cost if you will commit to a total order. It draws out the time to achieve 0%, but it can make it easier to get approved.

Bottom line, calculating an ROI informs both you and those you present the project to where the money is, and how to get it back from the facility and into other ministry areas. If you want some more info, or help putting one together, let us know in the forum, we are here for you.

I Have a Confession About Caulk

We have all heard the saying, “The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes”. We chuckle at this…as we cannot imagine that if we were a Cobbler that we would not provide shoes for our kids.

There are lots of variations on this old proverb…but I have a new one-

The Facility Stewardship Guy Has No Caulk (or at least forgot to use it)!

I am embarrassed.

No joke…I have talked about how caulk is only good for a year in almost every workshop I have done in the past 10 years. I have guilt-ed my audiences and readers to the fact that if they are not caulking…or at least inspecting the caulk…on an annual basis that we not properly stewarding what God entrusted to us. I have sat with Dr. Thom Rainer and told him how we did a regression analysis on the use (or lack thereof) of caulk and the long-term impact on facilities if you don’t caulk.

Well…I noticed that some of my siding was not straight on my porch…so I got up on a ladder to inspect…and peeked behind the siding…and what did I see…ROT!!! Yep…the area in question had been built (I use that word loosely) prior to us buying the house…and it is 10-12 feet in the air…so I never got up to look at it in the 21 years we have lived here.

Upon inspection, guess what I found.  That’s right… NO CAULK – EVER.

So…I am living what I have preached…but not in the proactive way (the good stewardship way).  We are now replacing the siding, the plywood, and wet insulation.  Check this pic out:

So…let’s do a quick cost analysis:

  1. If I had caulked the windows at the top “J” molding of the siding every year…for 21 years…I would have spent about $252. (3 tubes of caulk at $4/tube X 21 years)
  2. Instead, I am spending $3,400 for repairs and other upkeep.

That is 14 times as much. This reinforces what we have said before, that the cost to address deferred maintenance is many times more than properly addressing the facility in an intentional and proactive way.

Lesson Learned!

 
 

5 Abuses of Church Property Insurance

Since early in establishing Cool Solutions Group, I have had a number of beliefs and convictions around how we insure our church facilities and why insurers do not “appear” to be more interested in the condition of the facilities they insure. Still don’t get that.

When you couple that with the fact that I have been watching the intersection of Facility Stewardship to Financial Stewardship to Personal Integrity to “Doing What is Right” as it relates to church property/facility insurance claims, I have been both bothered and concerned.  I have seen things that really bother me from both sides of the insurance “table”, and not just a little.

Let me share with you 5 abuses I have witnessed and why I think they need to be addressed:

  1. Pray for a Hail Storm – I have seen this first hand more than once.  A church does not plan for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement and start praying for a hail storm.  That is just wrong! Why should any company (insurance or not) pay for your lack of planning for the inevitable cost of roof maintenance and replacement? To take this a step further, I do not understand why church insurance continues to increase the value of church facilities when they are incurring more and more deferred maintenance that actually decreases the value. This really perplexes me (I told you I have concerns on both sides of the table). Can you imagine the outcry of churches whose coverage is reduced based on deferred maintenance or lack of maintenance? On the flip side, can you imagine what elation there would be to have little to no premium increases for churches that could empirically prove they were maintaining their facilities?  I would LOVE to see that. That would be true Facility Stewardship!
  2. The insurance company has lots of money – Aren’t you glad they do?!?!  I know I am glad Allstate does when we have a claim at the house. If they did not, how would claims get paid?  But here is the real fallacy with that line of thinking.  Where did that money come from?  Right…premiums. And who pays the premiums?  Right…all the churches (or people) they insure.  So when the insurance company pays a claim, the likelihood of all their other church clients premiums increasing is high. This is as much a Kingdom issue as it is insurance…maybe more. Talk about Financial Stewardship.
  3. We Won The Lottery  – “We just had a major insurance event…NEW SHOES FOR EVERYONE!” Insurance is bought in order to have coverage to repair/replace content and facilities that were directly impacted by the insurance event. It is not a “get out of jail free” card or a license to spend or the golden egg to offset a deficit in your budget. Yet, far too often the mindset of church leaders and staff is not aligned with the real reason for the claim dollars.  Think of it this way…if the insurance event had not occurred, what then?
  4. Pushed to the limit – We have insurance limits in the policy…let’s max them out. If there is a limit for contents or extra expenses or the like, are we not entitled to use ALL of it. Answer = NO.  In fact, not just no, but…
  5. 10 and 10 –  This one is an abuse that the insurance companies have allowed for too long. The term “10 and 10” is a construction industry term for 10% profit and 10% overhead. That means you take the raw cost of material and labor, then add 10% for overhead and 10% for profit…and you allow the general contractor to include their “General Conditions” cost of the superintendent, project manager, etc, the contractor is likely to walk away with 25-30% of the claim. Let me drill this down.  Say you have a $2 Million claim and you allow the contractor to charge 10/10 and general conditions…that could be $500,000 and a nail is not even driven.  In contrast, take that same project value for new construction, the current going rates we see are 6-8% plus general conditions…which equates to only about 15-17%. That is a potential swing of over $200,000. Now, I am not suggesting that the church get that money (refer back to #3 above), but it should reduce the amount of the claim the insurance company pays out…which saves them money…but…as indicated above in #2…it ultimately saves all the insured churches money in the form of less premium increases. NOTE:  The “10 and 10” issue I have is not with the small sub-contractor, but rather with larger claims where a bonafide General Contractor has to be engaged.

So…I realize that the above may not make me popular with many churches and even some insurance companies.  I am OK with that…because Facility Stewardship…coupled with Financial Stewardship are not just a good idea, but spiritual tenets.

What Batman Might Say About HVAC Integration

As we shared prior, we believe that the World of Integration is here to stay…especially in the realm of major facility systems, like HVAC.

eSPACE and Cool Solutions Group released its COOLSPACE HVAC Integration over 8 years ago.  At that time, the only option was for churches that had a JACE.  Then we developed integration with several brands of thermostats.

But do you know what?  Those 2 applications only represented a portion of church HVAC controls systems.  Our team has scratched its proverbial head for many years trying to break that nut.  We thought we had it figured out with the new JACE J8000.  It could do what we wanted…but the price point was in the $7-10,000 range.  That seems unreasonable for a simple “handshake” from one system to another. HOLY SMOKES BATMAN!

We then thought we had hit pay dirt with the Lynx Springs Edge 534…but alas…the driver written for the JACE would not work in this device.  CURSES…FOILED AGAIN!

Well, we are pleased to announce that our team, in partnership with North Building Technologies has developed a solution that not only works…but is cost effective! We have developed a “controller” to link the eSPACE Event Scheduler and pull the schedules from the eSPACE API and convert the data to usable BACnet/LON/Modbus schedule objects for occupancy.   BOOM! POW! BAM!

“Everything’s impossible until somebody does it.” – Batman

Well…we DID IT!

Now, if you have a system that can accept BACnet objects, LON or Modbus, eSPACE (and the 13 other ChMS event schedulers) can communicate with your HVAC system and assist with increasing energy and operational efficiency. You do not need a JACE (but if you have one, that is cool too).  You do not have to spend $10,000.  For a fraction of that, you can integrate your HVAC and Event Scheduler!

KA-BOOM!

Stop Wasting Money

Seriously, stop.

If you are not seeking and following energy saving guidelines, you are spending money you do not have to. Money spent on facilities, when not necessary, take away dollars available for your ministerial mission. The logical response to this opening is to ask, “What can we do?” I am glad you are being logical, because I have some real simple steps for you to start with.

Step 1: Commit to it. Being energy efficient is not something that happens by accident. If you are not committed and intentional, you will not fully succeed. With the increasing connectivity in facilities management (think Internet of Things), opportunities to save will either change or new possibilities added. It takes someone committed to stay informed to take advantage of all that is out there.

Step 2: Turn it OFF. Find a way to turn things off when you do not need them. Use power strips and shut devices off at night, use time clocks, install motion switches, etc. Anything you can do to create a culture that turns the switch off when it is not needed will make a difference. Consider a time clock on water fountains…why do you need to keep water cold overnight? Motion sensors and light sensors on hallway lights. Why keep it lit if no one is there and the sun is shining? You get the idea.

Step 3: Check your bulbs. There have been lots of improvements in lamping technology over the last decade. Survey all the lamps you use; see if there is a more energy efficient option. If you have older fixtures, there probably is. Consider exit signs; if you are not running LED signs you are spending too much. If you have T-12 fluorescent lamps, you are spending more than you should. Simple changes here can earn significant savings.

“If you are not seeking and following energy saving guidelines, you are spending money you do not have to.”

Step 4: Check your HVAC. Your HVAC is one of the largest contributors to your energy bills. Keep doors shut, change filters regularly, keep the coils clean, and only run them when you need them. Smart thermostats, an EMS system, computerized controls, WIFI stats…anything that can provide additional controls, integrated scheduling, and monitoring is what you should be using. In addition, consider your set-points. Varying set-points between vacancy, occupancy, and events can reduce energy consumption. Targeted improvements in HVAC make the most sense – they provide a very quick return on investment.

Step 5: Plug it Up. This step is referring to your building envelope. Check for air infiltration and plug the leaks whenever you find one that shouldn’t be there. Temperature always seeks equilibrium, any leaks in your building will cause the conditioned and unconditioned air to mix and affect your desired comfort level, which in turn makes your equipment run more than necessary.

Step 6: Keep learning. Similar to step 1, you must keep trying to learn the best ways to be energy efficient. There are many State and Federal programs that you can access to learn more. Check out Energy Star for Congregations for some great info to start.

Also, conveniently enough we are offering another FREE webinar through CFMS on Energy Management on July 26th. What a deal, a free resource to learn how to save even more money in your facility. We hope to see you there, and may you find the ways to save in your facility.


eSPACE Now Unlocks Doors

That’s right…you heard us. Not only is eSPACE the industry leading Facility Management Software…it is also the leader in Facility System Integrations.

Nearly 9 years ago we developed the first COOLSPACE integration with the Niagara Framework for HVAC Building Automation Systems. Since then, we have developed even more (see HERE for a more information on this).

Well…we have taken facility system integration to the next level…and that is to allow eSPACE or your Event Scheduler (remember eSPACE integrates with 14 other Church Management Systems) but to also unlock and lock doors. BOOM!!!!

  • No more late night trips back to the church to make sure the doors are locked.
  • No more double entry of schedules in the event scheduler and your door system (or HVAC system).
  • Enter events one time and be DONE!

You can now create and approve your event in eSPACE (or one of our ChMS integration partners) and simultaneously communicate with your HVAC systems when to come on and off…AND…determine which door(s) you want unlocked/locked for that event. This is FREAKING AWESOME!

There are, however, some requirements from you…such as:
  1. You need to have an access control system
  2. That system needs to have an API that we can communicate with
See…that wasn’t so bad.

Do we have your attention?  If so, reach out and let us know how we can help you increase operational efficiency as well as what your facility uses. We are more than happy to investigate and make this a reality for YOUR team!

PS:  Lighting and  security cameras are next on the integration train to efficiency!