Facility Stewardship Can Save You Money!

.
Who doesn’t like to save money? I love it when I am able to save money by either making some changes in my behavior or implementing a new strategy. What I have also seen is that it is not just about the quantifiable savings, but the additional abstract benefits.

For example…let’s say I buy a Toyota Prius to save money on gas. I am pretty convinced that I will in fact reduce my budget allocated for gasoline. That is GREAT…but it is not all. An abstract benefit is that I do not have to stop at a gas station as frequently which provides me with additional time to do other things. And knowing that “time is money” the abstract benefits can actually manifest themselves into real dollars. So in this example, I have 3 benefits…maybe more:

  1. Save money on fuel
  2. Save time to reinvest in other activities
  3. Which can either save me money or allow me to take that time/money and invest in an activity that could produce income, or reduce the need for someone else to perform the tasks.

Let’s take that concept to Facility Stewardship…and particularly the operation, maintenance, and management of the facilities that have been entrusted to us.

Our FACILITeSPACE module which includes the following is a great way to get started.

  • COOLSPACE – HVAC integration with Building Automation and WiFi thermostats
  • SECURESPACE – Door access controls
  • INFOSPACE – Comprehensive system to integrate with your digital and room signage
  • TECHSPACE – Coming Soon! – Will provide integration and alerts with early detection sensors
  • BRIGHTSPACE – Coming Soon! – Integration to lighting throughout your facility…more on this later.

Since we released these options we have heard lots of testimonials from churches that have shared how they saved money on energy…but the abstract was that they saw a large increase in operational efficiency. Here are a couple comments from our clients:

Our church has been a client of eSPACE Event Scheduling and FACILITeSPACE for 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

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

We have been using eSPACE with FACILITeSPACE 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. FACILITeSPACE 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, First Baptist Church

Let’s put this into context. These churches, and dozens more, started using FACILITeSPACE with the desire to save energy costs….which they did. The issue of “behavior” was the root issue with their efficiency, or lack thereof. They would turn units on when the spaces were not occupied. Not smart. But these churches and many others also are seeing the more abstract causality at play:

  1. Reduced run time of the units which can lengthen the life expectancy of their HVAC units. Units last longer if they run less (but they still need preventive maintenance). This means that a church may be able to get another 1, 2, 3 years out of their units which in turn allows them to modify the needs for capital reserves…which can not only save money, but if you have a true capital reserve account that is earning interest, you can actually “make money” by not spending it.
  2. Reduce if not completely mitigate the manual operations of adjusting thermostats and building automation systems for your events and space utilization. This can free up the staff to perform other duties (i.e. my car example).
  3. We have empirical data tied to the issues of deferred maintenance and the number of full time general maintenance workers you have. In every case of the Facility Condition Assessment that we perform, when a church has deferred maintenance (which is nearly 100% of the time) we see an under funding of the general maintenance line items in their budgets and a understaffing of facility teams. That is why they called it DEFERRED Maintenance. We should have done things that we put off…we deferred maintenance that should have been performed. Let’s look at how this can manifest itself.

Imagine having an extra 5-10 hours a week of general maintenance time for each of your maintenance team. If they are not having to turn thermostats on and off…and don’t have to run around locking and unlocking doors…how many hours could you recapture? We recently had a conversation with a church that indicated that their facility manager spent 20-25% of his time in a week double entering events in his building automation system. The event Coordinator would schedule events, meetings, etc. Then, print out the schedule and provide to the facility manager who in turn would RE-ENTER all of the same data into their BAS. That is pour utilization of a skilled person.

The other thing we have learned, or known for a long time but now have data, is that churches are not going to staff up their general maintenance team to a level of best proactive…which is 1 Full Time Employee for every 35,000 Square Feet. I get that…but what if we could assist your current staff to be more efficient? What if they could recapture even just 10% of their time…so say 4 hours per week…208 hours a year? Do you think there are tasks, preventive maintenance, general maintenance, inspections, vendor management, etc. that you could back-fill their time? I will guarantee it!

If your church is looking for a way to decrease deferred maintenance, save energy costs and increase operational efficiency, you need to strongly consider the impact of integrations and automation.


Plant Your Tree Before You Need the Shade

Just over 20 years ago, Harvey Mackay wrote a book that shaped much of my thinking and approach to investing in people, situations, business planning and so many other aspects of my personal and professional life.  The book is entitled: “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.”

Later in my career I had a business coach that would tell stories about how we intentionally would treat his cab drivers (this was also about 20 years ago…before Uber…but the same applies), the receptionist at the hotel, the flight attendants, etc.   Why was this important?  He said that beyond human decency and respect for other humans (which should always be the basis even if there is no secondary motives) that you never know when you may need their help.  You may need them to provide a level of service that is more likely to exceed your expectations if you have already built a relationship.

In a recent blog, Seth Godin once again provides a thought provoking and yet practical example of this same tenet of human interactions, acceptable behavior and forward thinking.  See what he said here or below:

  • If you wait until you really want an avocado, the market won’t have any ripe ones. You need to buy them in advance.
  • If you eat an avocado that’s not quite ripe, you won’t enjoy it. AND, you won’t have a chance to enjoy it tomorrow, when it would have been perfect if you had only waited.
  • If you live your life based on instant gratification and little planning, you’ll either never have a good avocado or you’ll pay more than you should to someone else who planned ahead.
  • Buy more avocados than you think you need, because the hassles are always greater than the cost, so you might as well invest.
  • And since you have so many, share them when they’re ripe. What goes around comes around.

All of these truths lead to the real insight, the metaphor that’s just waiting to be lived in all ways: If you get ahead of the cycle, waiting until the first one is ripe and then always replenishing before you need one, you can live an entire life eating ripe avocados. On the other hand, if impatience and poor planning gets you behind the cycle, you’ll be just as likely to waste every one you ever eat.

Plant your tree before you need the shade.

What “trees” do you need to plant today? What kind of long term planning is needed to keep you in the “shade” of your planning (i.e. Capital Reserve planning…just saying).

-Tim


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.


Preventive Maintenance: Revisited

The below is a post that I did in August of 2009…but think that we need to revisit it…and how it can save you money in the long run. Frankly, if we are focused on long term ministry implementation, then our facilities will need to be prepared to serve us (not vice versa) for the long term as well. OK…I will get off my soap box…enjoy the following!


As I have studied the Facilities Management field and have researched the cause and effect of the decay of everything that we build, I am more confused as to why we, as God’s stewards, do such a poor job of fulfilling those duties. We would rather put off today what we can go into debt for tomorrow. HMMM…is that good stewardship? Sounds like many government officials.

I recently was introduced to Kevin Folsom, Director of Facilities and Plant Operations Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas. He wrote a White Paper entitled “sustainable facilities” vs. Sustainable Facilities. This is an excellent article and frankly some of it is over my head…Kevin is one smart dude!!!!

Here is a quote from this article:

There are numerous levels that can be used to go about this, but to start we have to remember our early Physics lessons in high school about the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics. Everything we build will decay, but it may last longer if properly maintained. So, here’s a puzzling question… If we build facilities that the natural law causes them to decay at fairly predictable rates throughout its birth to burial, why do we not plan for it?

According to a research project done a few years ago, facilities…any facility…will deteriorate at a rate of 1-4% per year, assuming regular preventive maintenance. However, this rate of deterioration will, in most cases, grow exponentially if the regular, systematic preventive maintenance is not performed.

So…why do we, as church leaders, avoid addressing and planning for the inevitable? Would you drive your new car and never change the oil until the engine seizes up and then cough over a huge amount of money for a new engine? That does not make any sense to me.

Let me share one more quote from an interview Kevin did with facilitiesnet.

Let’s step back and look at the big picture for a minute. An appropriate preventive maintenance program should be funded on average at 1.5 percent of the CRV (Current Replacement Value) of a facility. Using the Fram analogy, which is much like a really small facility, 1.5 percent of a $20,000 car is $300 per year. The equivalent would be to pay someone to come to your car’s location to provide maintenance and inspections, while working around your schedule to prevent interruption. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

So, how much is the CRV (Current Replacement Value) of your ministry facilities? How much are you budgeting each year to maintain these God given resources? It may be time for a Facilities Management/Maintenance Audit.


It’s More Than a Time Change

It is that time that many people seem to like (except for Arizona, Hawaii, and the U.S Territories); it is daylight savings time! Otherwise know as the universal bulletin announcement of, “Everyone should be on time this Sunday; don’t forget to set your clocks back.”

For facility stewards, this is also a great reminder to check certain systems. Not taking the time to inspect and check your systems at regular intervals throughout the year will directly contribute to increased maintenance costs and potential downtime of systems.

                Critical systems to check:
  • Roofs – if you live in part of the country that sees snow, now is a good time to start checking your roof. Water getting in is annoying; having water intrusion during a freeze/thaw cycle will destroy your building. The issue is not only indoor air quality issues (mold). The action during the freeze/thaw cycle can destroy the integrity of brick/stone cladding and deteriorate your sheeting and framing material.
  • Gutters – Take the time to clean and inspect your gutters. Whether it is from melting snow or increased rain, having an unobstructed path for the water to flow away from the building is a good thing. If your downspouts flow into an underground drainage system, it is a good idea to ensure it is not obstructed as well. If you can’t tell by a flow test, have a plumber run a camera through it.
  • Window Flashing – As you move around your facility take the time to check the flashing and caulking around your windows. Water intrusion is the concern here. Remember, a $2 tube of caulk now can save a $2500 window replacement later. And it is not just caulk…if you have a wood sill, how is the paint holding up? Touch-up as necessary to seal it from the elements.
  • Exterior Faucets – If you have faucets on the outside of the building (or sprinkler system back-flow valves) check to make sure they have the proper weatherization covers. You can generally find faucet covers at most hardware stores for a couple of bucks, proper covers for a back-flow is a bit more. Both are less expensive than a plumbing repair bill.

    “Not taking the time to inspect and check your systems at regular intervals throughout the year will directly contribute to increased maintenance costs and potential downtime of systems.”

  • Weather-stripping – Checking and replacing worn or missing weather-stripping on your doors will help improve energy efficiency. While you are at it check the openers and hinges and lubricate as needed.
  • Walk Mats – These are critical year-round, but are especially critical during inclement/wet weather. Well-maintained entrance matting helps reduce wet floors, making it safer for all. You may want to consider rotating entrance matting; longer length matting for winter, shorter for the summer.
  • Parking Lots/Sidewalks – Cracks in parking lots and sidewalks do not look the best, and when water gets underneath during a freeze/thaw cycle they can get worse as well as damage the substrate. Fortunately, the available sealers, caulks, and patching products for asphalt and concrete are affordable and easy to use.

The great thing about these tasks is that most can be done by just about any person; the tasks that require working on a ladder or roof should be undertaken by someone with experience. This might be a good time to have a church workday and make these tasks a time of fellowship; what would be better than gathering together to worship and maintain what He has entrusted to us?

If this list seems daunting, we are here to help. Contact us today and let one of our facility specialists speak with you and help you with stewarding your facility.


We have developed a FREE Church Facility Evaluator. This simple tool will provide you with a snapshot of some key indicators associated with facility operational costs.

Church Facility Evaluator

 

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.