Who Rebuilt The Roof?

I have a wondering mind. I like to do mental gymnastics and ask myself “what if”.  I sit and think about some of the most obscure things at times.  I will watch a movie or TV show and contemplate the back story…but even more about the “after-story”.  You know…what happened next?  Did they survive?  Did they end up getting married?  How long did it take the war hero to recover from his wounds and what kind of physical therapy was needed?

Weird…I know.  Welcome to the inside of my mind.

Let me share one of these mental excursions that I recently ventured on.  Most of you are familiar with the Luke 5 story about how Jesus forgave and healed a paralyzed man (starting around vs. 17).  This story starts with a description about some men who brought a paralyzed man, on a mat, to see Jesus.  When they were not able to get the man close enough to Jesus…they got creative.  They climbed on the roof (obviously not an OSHA approved endeavor), removed the roof tiles and lowered the man right down in front of Jesus.  Then Jesus heals him…forgives his sins…and sends him on his way.

What an amazing miracle!  We all rejoice and the people that day (except for the Pharisees) were amazed and praised God.

However…wondering minds contemplate the details that are not written in the gospels.  What about X, Y and Z…for instance:

  1. How large was the hole in the roof? – if we assume a 5’10” man with some clearance, then the hole may have been 6′ by 3′.  That is 18 square feet.
  2. Were there only “tiles” on the roof or did the roof have a substrate (a substance or layer that underlies something) or any other structure(s) that had to be removed?
  3. How long was the rope or other lowering apparatus?
  4. Where did they get the rope?  I’m sure they didn’t make a run to Home Depot.
  5. Had the friends of the man planned all of these details out ahead of time?

While all of that is interesting fodder, the real question that I ponder is…Who Repaired the Roof?

There is no account of how the roof was restored to its functional form.  The man was jumping and praising God…but what about this gaping hole in the roof?  Did the friends just leave the hole for the property owner to repair?  Did the friends ask Jesus to perform another miracle that day and fix the roof?  Did the friends tell the healed man it was his responsibility since he was the one that benefited?  Had they already entered into a contract with the local roofing company?

Here is what I think.  I believe (I have no proof to back this up) that the friends went back and repaired the roof.  Any friends that were selfless enough to carry their buddy on a mat…up to a roof…cut a hole…and lower him down, sound like honorable men.  I believe honorable people like this would have gone back and repaired the roof.  They would have taken responsibility for the physical condition of the place of ministry that day.  They would have stepped up and done what was right.

Do you see any correlation between this story and Facility Stewardship?  The roof did not heal the man.  The house did not forgive his sins.  The house was a TOOL to facilitate ministry and life transformation.  I have preached that for years…but you also must care for the TOOL.  It is tremendous to see the creativity of people using this TOOL to introduce people to Jesus.  The TOOL played a role in this story…in fact, it was a pretty important part…but…it then needed to be restored to be used again on another day as a TOOL.

Facilities are only a tool.

Facilities cannot save or heal you.

But…facilities can be the tool that can make or break a spiritual connection.  Can you imagine how this story might have been different if there was not a house with a roof?  The paralyzed man may never have met Christ.

 

The Never Ending Product – Forever Beta

The world is changing from a “product” based goods/service market to a subscription based model.  This trend has been growing exponentially since the mid 2000’s.  In 2018, there are very few things you can not obtain and use from a subscription:

  1. Caterpillar (heavy construction equipment) now offers a service that shifts the discussion from “Products” to “Outcomes” based on the amount of dirt you want to move
  2. Cadillac, Hyundai, Porsche and Volvo all offer subscription programs for a car (This is not a lease)
  3. Stitch Fix – Clothing
  4. Graze – Snack food subscription
  5. My Royal Canin – Dog supplies
  6. Amazon Prime – enough said!
  7. Husqvarna – now offers battery powered tools in Europe on a subscription model
  8. Kanye West – First subscription album, “The Life of Pablo” sold billions of subscriptions
  9. Zipcar- to book the USE of a car and the ownership
  10. The New York Times – now generates more revenue from subscriptions than ads
  11. On and on and on…

The one industry that is most obvious is software.  The majority of what we consume in the form of software (remember your “apps” are just software) is done through a subscription.  But that transition was not as seamless or easy as you might think looking back.  In fact, it took more than a model change…it was a massive philosophical shift.

In his latest book “Subscribed”, Tien Tzuo reminds us of the huge shift the market had to make from obtaining software via a perpetual license and the age of a CD loading on your computer to the current age where most software is subscription based…especially with the age of Cloud computing and SaaS based applications.  Prime examples of this shift includes household names such as Adobe, Microsoft, Symantec and IBM.  Part of this shift is not just to avoid producing a “product” but rather that IT buyers prefer an OPEX vs. CAPEX.  In layman’s terms, organizations…including churches and not-for-profit firms…prefer an “operational expense” (i.e. subscription) in lieu of a “capital expense” (i.e. physical assets whether software or equipment).

As the subscription really started to take off, the term “beta” became common in the industry.  This basically means your software was “almost ready” and they wanted clients to test drive it for final tweaks.  Then, once the input was evaluated and implemented, the software was considered DONE!

That is changing as well!

On page 134 of Subscriber, Tzou conveys a story about Google and how for over 5 years their logo had the word BETA included.  Google received a great deal of pressure from enterprise prospects and Fortune 500 companies that the word BETA was a roadblock for those who wanted to invest in a “beta” product.  So in 2009, Google released a blog post saying it was removing the word from the logo. How ever, what is hilarious, is the last line in the 2009 release:

One more thing – for those who still like the look of “beta”, we’ve made it easy to re-enable the beta label for Gmail from the Labs tab under setting.

Google basically was saying that this little 4 letter word…means NOTHING to them.  This was the birth of the “never-ending product.”  Google and most other growing SaaS based products follow that…never-ending development…never-ending enhancements…never-ending improvements…never-ending listening to clients and prospects needs…always improving and never arriving mindset.

We too, at Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE adhere to this methodology.  We will never “arrive” or be complete with development.  There will always be more that can and should be done to assist organizations in being EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they are entrusted to steward.

Forever BETA!

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!

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!


The Precursors of Facility Stewardship

For the past 10 years I have been beating the drum of Facility Stewardship. You can search through the archives of this blog and find dozens of posts on the subject.  Heck, we even produced an almost 300 page Facility Stewardship Manual (hint…get your copy today). I believe in this principle. In fact, at a recent meeting of our leadership team, we reiterated that our WHY, as a company, is to “To assist organizations be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities they have been entrusted to steward.”

This is what we do. This is who we are. This is what drives us.

Going back through most of the information we have produced on this topic, I realized that the majority of the content is based on the assumption that a church already has a facility that needs to be stewarded…and that is true, given the majority of the life cycle costs of a facility are after you move in.

But…you cannot move into a facility until after it is dreamed about, planned, and built. You cannot steward something that does not exist. (What came first, the chicken or the egg?)

With that as the backdrop, the precursor to Facility Stewardship has to include all of the phases leading up to the existence of a facility. I know that sounds over simplified, but that’s the facts. In many instances, the time, energy and intentionality invested in these precursor activities will set the tone…if not the costs…of the long term life cycle stewardship initiatives. Poorly designed and built facilities generally cost more to operate, thus increasing the life cycle cost.

We see the life cycle comprised of 4 primary components:

SUSTAIN: The “Sustain” component is where we (or at least I have in my writing) tend to focus our attention when we think of Facility Stewardship given all the existing churches that have facilities to maintain/steward. There is actually a very small percentage of churches planning/building in any calendar year…usually 1-3% of all churches in America are in a “building program” in any given year…so we are inclined to equate Facility Stewardship to the other 97-99% of the churches that have facilities whom need to maintain, pay utilities, clean, replace light bulbs, repair HVAC systems, etc.

“We cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility.”

But we cannot look at Facility Stewardship and Life Cycle as a “one and done” process…the term “cycle” would infer that it repeats itself…and so it is with the life cycle of a facility. Once you have been in a building for any period of time, there is a natural occurrence that starts the cycle over again (and again, and again). We tend to start to dream of new ways to do things…thus the need for new tools (or re-purposed tools) which in turn requires planning and some facet of building…then sustaining…repeat.

Given the above, there are 3 precursors to the “sustain” portion of Facility Stewardship:

DREAM: This is a critical step in the process of every facility initiative which provides the platform for church leaders to ask “what if” and understand a variety of scenarios that might be possible depending on God’s leading and the intentional uniqueness of your church. Dreaming is not just “blue sky” thinking (although there is a component of that) but needs to be weighted by intentional “next steps”.

PLAN: Intentional planning is required to achieve a desired goal. Period. Most church leaders miscalculate or under estimate the value and impact of this phase. Here is a fact; You will spend most of your total project budget during the planning phase. That may sound un-intuitive given that you will likely write checks for less than 15% of the total cost of your project during the pre-construction process. However, the reality is that every decision you make during this phase will impact the cost of your project. The “Build” phase is merely the execution and fulfillment of the planning. Do not take this lightly.

BUILD: Building and construction can be confusing and feel adversary for those not actively involved in the industry. There will be hundreds of items that must be addressed and resolved. There will also be times of frustration, concern about quality, doubt about the validity of a “change order”, schedule issues, budget issues, closeout, warranty, etc, etc, etc. It can be overwhelming…but it doesn’t need to be that way. You need an advocate and “construction-eese” translator making “cloudy” issues clear. Someone sitting on your side of the table allow you and your team to do what God called you to do…minister and lead.

Don’t assume that the precursors are not as equally important to the sustaining elements of Facility Stewardship. Taking the above for granted can cost you dearly. Facility Stewardship is not an “either/or” but rather a “both/and” process. Let me put it another way…the Dream, Plan and Build are not merely precursors, but integral parts of Facility Stewardship.


What Your email Address Says About You

Are you prejudice or have strong biases? I do not think of myself as the former, but definitely the latter. Then I looked at the definitions…and realized I can be both without really being aware of it.

Prejudice = preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Biased = unfairly prejudiced for or against someone or something.

So…what does this have to do about a simple email address? Well…I have prejudice/strong bias about certain email domains. I know that sounds trite and petty, but it is true. And I am convinced that I am not the only one (check out this funny graphic). Let me explain.

When I receive an email and the domain is @AOL or @YAHOO or @EARTHLINK or @HOTMAIL, I have an immediate prejudice…in the purest sense of the word. I make a preconceived judgement and opinion of the person who sent the email.  Here is my list of first impressions:

  1. This person is old (older than me…maybe older than my dad!)
  2. They are not technical
  3. The are still on Windows 98
  4. They are living 20 years in the past
  5. They don’t like change

As the above definition so aptly describes, I made a decision not based on reason or any actual experience. I realize that is not “fair” and the person may be highly technical and only 25 years old (but not likely). They may be using an Apple product and have the iPhone X (again…probably not). But the fact remains, I made a biased judgement of that person.

Do you know what else…others may be as well.  I was recently at a church technology conference talking with some of my peers when this exact topic came up. They were all sharing stories about how they do the exact same thing and try to get their clients to update their addresses to “modern” applications or custom domains. For example, tim at coolsolutionsgroup dot com is actually an alias for a Gmail address.

So…who cares? In some cases it is totally irrelevant…but there are some instances where your email tells a story that could hurt you such as:

  1. Looking for a new job – don’t look like you are not tech savvy or living in the past
  2. Communicating with church staff – don’t “date” yourself to leaders that may be younger than you
  3. Seeking assistance with software products – enough said
  4. Communicating with people how relevant you are – you get it
  5. ETC!

Does anyone else agree with me?


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!


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.


Facility Stewardship – What Is It?

For over 10 years, you have seen me refer to facility stewardship. For some of you this may be still be a new concept. You know what a facility is and you are familiar with stewardship…but how do the 2 go together? I am glad you asked…

Let’s first look at the definition of each:

FACILITY (ies) – something designed, built, installed, etc., to serve a specific function affording a convenience or service.

STEWARDSHIP – (act of being a STEWARD) – a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another or others.

If you have grown up in the church or been involved in church for any period of time, you have heard the term “stewardship”…and I am sure that in almost every case, it revolved around money or raising money. In these cases, we are generally talking about financial stewardship which is critical to our spiritual life as well as the life of our ministries.

The word “money” is used over 140 times and if you add terms such as “gold” and “silver” the number is huge. For example, financial matters are mentioned more often in the Bible than prayer, healing, and mercy.

But stewardship is not just about money and finances…but refers to (as its definition above indicates) the caring for or oversight of something of someone else’s. The EPA has a section on their website that explains “Environmental Stewardship”. They define it as:

Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.

So, how do we apply this to our ministry facilities? Do we really believe that God has entrusted these to us, thus making us stewards of their care and oversight? As I have shared before, I have witnessed churches and ministries spending millions of dollars in the construction and renovation of their facilities…but then fail to maintain them (i.e. steward them). They wave the banner of “stewardship” when raising money to build them…but then neglect their care, management and maintenance. So, the following is a list of attributes that I believe are part of “Facility Stewardship”:

  • Proper cleaning
  • Systematic and proactive Preventive Maintenance
  • Proactive Capital Reserve Account planning
  • Life Cycle analysis and planning
  • Development of a systematic painting plan
  • Proper facility scheduling – this is a key element of stewarding the facility…they were meant to be used
  • Sustainability implementation
  • Vigilant monitoring of operational costs
  • Implementation of energy saving processes (i.e. HVAC interface with a Building Automation System or WiFi thermostats of better yet)
  • Proactive cataloging of facility components and tracking of work orders and service requests

With the above as a backdrop, how are you doing with your Facility Stewardship? What can you implement immediately that would make you a better steward?


Don’t Take Our Word for It!

As CEO of Cool Solutions Group/eSPACE, nothing brings me more joy than hearing from our clients. We could “toot” our own horn all day long, but…when others say things about you, that makes you take notice. Here are just a few comments from clients:

It is amazing how far the software has come since we started using it in I think 2011. Having the event scheduler on the app, may give us the ability to stop running schedules.  You have done some amazing things with this software over the years.  ~ Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church 

 

The transition of data from ServiceU to eSPACE went very well. The system is much easier to navigate through than ServiceU. I am very pleased with the system and what it can do.   ~ Sugar Creek Baptist Church

 

We are so impressed thus far not only with the eSPACE program but also with the wonderful customer service we have already received!   ~ Forest Hills Baptist Church

 

Let me take a moment to just tell you how eSPACE is blessing us and blessing our community. Because of the ease of scheduling spaces and eSPACE in general, we now have community members using our facility for corporate meetings and other events. Opening our building to the public gets more people in the door who may have a negative view of “church.” The FACILITY is not the church – it’s where we DO church. ~ Ward Church

 

The number one thing that eSPACE has that ServiceU did not is excellent customer service! eSPACE is so much more comprehensive, specifically for the whole facility. Work order system, HVAC system and now the Life Cycle Calculator are so wonderfully focused on the facility as that is your niche. eSPACE is so much easier to update than ServiceU. ~ Westwood Community Church

 

I have been managing our church facility for nearly 14 years and while I have experimented with other software tools to help me, Cool Solutions Group is hands down the best out there. Cost savings, better stewardship and higher production of our church’s support staff are a direct result of their Event, Work Order and HVAC management software. ~Fellowship Bible Church

 

Oh. My. Gosh. We could not love eSPACE more!!!! You all ROCK! Moving to eSPACE has been everything we’d hoped and dreamed it to be.  Their staff is extremely responsive and supportive of our unique and growing needs.  They are flexible, thoughtful, and the best company we work with hands down.  We only wish the team at eSPACE would take over the internet world and build software for everything so we could work with them on every digital need we have!  Their customer service is far superior to anyone we’ve ever worked with! ~ Bloomfield Hills School District

Want to learn more?  Check us out HERE. You can also view videos and other tools HERE.