Facility Stewardship Can Save You Money!

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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

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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.


Honeywell Now Integrates With eSPACE


FINALLY…we have developed integration with one of the largest providers of HVAC controls – Honeywell.

For as long as I can remember, Honeywell has been the leader in Building Controls. Whether in the commercial or residential arenas, they have been the leader…and the 800 pound gorilla. With that “notoriety” also comes a certain level of inflexibility, bureaucracy, “king of the hill” mind set and a stigma that they do not “play well with others”.

While all of that may be true, Honeywell has started to provide 3rd party integration and API access to a limited number of their devices. This has opened the door for many companies to develop means by which to allow the end user (i.e. YOU) to integrate their controls with other systems…such as eSPACE Event Scheduler (and the 13+ ChMS systems that eSPACE integrates with).

Our team has now developed, tested and released integration with the following Honeywell controls:

LYRIC PLATFORM

  1. T1 Pro
  2. T4 Pro
  3. T6 Pro (Z Wave, Hydronic, Smart)

NOTE:  Honeywell does not have a means by which we can communicate with their API for their “Total Comfort” systems….which is most of their residential stats.

For more information on the above integration or potential other integrations, contact our team and see how eSPACE integrations can increase energy and operational efficiency!



Operational Efficiency MUST Include Automation

Over the past 4 years, our team has done numerous Facility Condition Assessments. These are evaluations of a church facility that include:

  1. Fresh Eyes Assessment
  2. Identification of deferred maintenance
  3. Development of a Capital Reserve Plan
  4. Bench-marking of facility operational expenses

As we have analyzed these assessments (which every church should have done) we have identified a significant pattern…and not a good one. What we have seen in every one of the FCA’s we have performed, where the facility has some level of deferred maintenance (which has been all), there are 3 significant budget line items that are underfunded:

  1. General Maintenance Budget – the stuff you need to do to keep up with the natural rate of deterioration and wear/tear.
  2. Facility Staffing – Best practices have been proven that you need 1 full time general maintenance staff member for every 35,000 SF of facilities.
  3. Capital Reserves – these churches have deferred as they did not properly plan for the inevitable costs of capital replacement and renewal.

So…how do we remedy this?  GREAT QUESTION!

The easy answer is increase the budget for each of these. There you have it…case closed. NOT!

Most churches cannot immediately increase their budgets to be in keeping with intentional Facility Stewardship.  This means we need another approach. Consider these:

  1. What if we could make our current staff more effective and efficient?
  2. What if we could free up 10-30% of their time to inspect the facility? I would suggest that this kind of increase would reduce the calculation of the number of full time staff needed.
  3. What if the time they had on-the-job was utilized to perform tasks that only a human can perform?
  4. Perform a periodic walk through, meet with vendors and negotiate the best rates, get on the roof every month?
  5. Verify all the emergency lights are operational.
  6. ETC!

With the introduction of the INTERNET OF THINGS over a decade ago, there are few reasons or excuses to not add automation to the routine and mundane tasks of setting HVAC setting, unlocking doors, setting up digital signage.  What if you could automate those tasks…how much more time would your staff have?

If you have not added FACILITeSPACE to your facility automation…now is the time! *Click below for more information.

Going, Going…Gone?: HVAC Replacement 101

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In less than a second, you get over 83 Million returns. That is what happens when you type in “How do I know when I should change out my HVAC” into a search engine.

You can get some interesting results as you head past the first, second and third pages…but who does that? Results past the third page in a search engine are like the third verse in a hymn…it may be there, but no one ever looks at it.

Regarding your facility, there are some basic things you need to know about your HVAC before you can really make an informed decision regarding replacement.

To begin, what type of systems do you have?

Expected service life will vary based on the size and type of the system you are looking at. A 5-ton unit that you are accustomed to seeing in your home is vastly different (from a mechanical perspective) than a facility that has a cooling tower and chilled water pumped throughout.

Knowing what you have is the first step in being able to determine when you need to change it. It is easiest to identify the components in a life cycle calculator, CMMS, or a spreadsheet.

The next foundational element is to understand how your HVAC systems work and how the components go together.

Having a clear understanding of how the engineers originally designed the system to function is necessary when evaluating effectiveness. The mechanical engineering field is like any other field out there. There will always be certain designs and installations that are somewhat “tried and true” that you will see under specific conditions.

There are also, however, systems that get deployed that are considered cutting edge that do not make the cut long-term. Usually they do not make the cut because they are not the easiest to maintain, which means from a commercial standpoint they are not as profitable.

For churches there is a benefit for staying with more tried and true technology. If you have “cutting-edge” systems or special features that are not maintained correctly, or your service tech does not know all the components that need maintenance, you are not able to effectively evaluate everything.

Consider what subjective data you are going to use as part of the evaluation process.

As you are aware, church members are not slow to provide their opinion on how the system performs. While it is always beneficial to hear folks out and how they feel, it does not mean that it should carry the most weight in your decision. There will always be folks who think it is too hot, too cold, too windy, too loud, etc. Perceived comfort does not always match engineering specifications. A unit can be performing as designed and still not meeting current occupant needs.

Finally, know if there have been any changes to the layouts in the spaces you are evaluating the HVAC.

Many times, churches will open a wall here, close in a space there, make offices out of this large room, etc. Unfortunately, not all changes in room layout are combined with a mechanical engineering review. Your systems were designed to operate with a specific layout. Anytime you change it you can fundamentally change the effectiveness of a unit. It may be operating perfectly, but it is trying to condition a space layout that no longer exists.


Setting Goals For Your Church Facility

2018 is in the books. Chapter Closed.

2019 is just getting started…we have the whole year in front of us.

Like many of you, I set personal and professional goals for 2019. I have been in the habit of setting goals (not resolutions) at the start of every year.

WHY???

In a recent series of blog posts by Rick Warren, he provides some great insight on WHY:

  1. You need to set goals because it is a spiritual responsibility – If you don’t have goals for your life, you have already decided to let other people run your life. When you don’t decide in advance what’s important, you’re letting other people decide.
  2. You need to set goals because they are statements of faith – If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and you set a goal, you’re saying, “I believe that God wants me to accomplish this by this time. This is what I believe God is going to do in my life.” Goals aren’t just a statement of faith. They stretch your faith. The bigger your goal, the more your faith will be stretched. And that pleases God.
  3. You need to set goals because they focus your energy – Focus is the key to an effective life. If you spread your energy out and diffuse it over a whole bunch of things, you’ll make no impact at all. But if you focus your life, it’s going to be powerful, and it will change the world.

So…let me challenge you.  Have you set personal goals? Professional goals? GREAT!

What about goals for your Church Facility…your Facility Stewardship?  Not yet??? Well then, now is the perfect time to do so. I love “SO THAT” statements. You are setting this goal, and you want there to be a solution. It allows me to put a “cause” and an “effect” in place.  Think about examples such as:

  1. We will reduce energy consumption by [X]% by [X] date SO THAT…we can save the church money and reallocate to capital reserves.
  2. We will find ways to automate basic tasks like locking/unlocking doors, engaging HVAC systems, etc by [X] date SO THAT I can concentrate more of my time on general maintenance and management of the major systems.
  3. We will raise the standard of “clean” for our facility from a “Motel 6” level to a “Hilton” SO THAT we make the very best first impression to our guests.
  4. ?????????

You get the point…we have to set goals.  We owe it to our church…and to God (If you believe in Facility Stewardship) to set goals for your facility.

Share with us some of your goals in the comments below.

ONWARD! 

The “SMART” Church

For the past decade, the term “smart” has been used to identify devices and physical environments that have incorporated technology to produce integration, inter-connectivity and system processing that does not rely solely on human interaction.

  • SMART Phone
  • SMART House
  • SMART Building
  • SMART Car

Well…Cool Solutions Group and eSPACE have a new term that is not a fad or a “Star Trek” kind of futuristic fantasy. Ready…

SMART CHURCH 

That’s right…your church building can now be SMART.  What does that even mean?!?! How can an inanimate object be smart?  It is like the Scarecrow…it does not have a brain…or does it? With the newly release FACILITeSPACE module to the eSPACE suite of Facility Management software applications, we have given your church building a brain…well sort of. While we cannot literally give your facility any gray matter, we have just released the next best thing.

FACILITeSPACE is the ONLY application that allows your church to integrate your event/facility scheduling software to many of your major building systems:

  1. COOLSPACE – HVAC integration with Building Automation and WiFi thermostats
  2. SECURESPACE – Door access controls
  3. INFOSPACE – Comprehensive system to integrate with your digital signage and digital room signage
  4. TECHSPACE – Coming Soon! – Will provide integration and alerts with early detection sensors (think water leak detection, overheated electrical panels and devices, humidity control, IT closet temperature….get the point…and turn on projectors and TV’s when an even it scheduled – WOW!)
  5. BRIGHTSPACE – Coming Soon! – Integration to lighting throughout your facility

Imagine…you schedule your event in eSPACE (or one of our integration partners) and it:

  • Turns the HVAC on in time for the event and then turns it off after the event
  • Unlocks/Locks whatever doors you need access (that have digital controls) for that event
  • Lists the schedule and other event data on the digital signage through your building
  • Displays the events on the digital door sign
  • Turns on the TV or Projector for the event
  • Turns on and off the needed lights for the event
  • Alerts your facility team and appropriate vendors if there is a significant issue

This is not a fairy tale…this is the world of IoT (Internet of Things) and the future is NOW.

Contact our team for more information and let the OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES BEGIN!

What to learn more?  Join us for an informational Webinar on Thursday, December 6, 2018, at 2:00pm EST.  Sign up HERE to join this Free webinar.

 

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.

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!

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!


New HVAC Integration with Network Thermostats

As we have discussed before, the number one cost “influencer” to your utility bills can be attributed to the cost of heating and cooling your facility. And the 2 factors that are the root cause of most inefficiencies are “controls” and “behaviors.”

Most of you know that eSPACE has developed an HVAC Integration feature called COOLSPACE that now will integrate with various Building Automation systems and WiFi thermostats. Not only that, but eSPACE can integrate with many of the leading Church Management Systems such as Ministry Platform, Shelby Systems, CCB, Fellowship One, Servant Keeper, ACS, Planning Center and more (Click HERE to learn more).

Well…we have just added another integration partner – Network Thermostats. While we will not be “selling” their thermostats (they have a very generous program when then sell to churches) we have developed an integration that will allow churches that have these thermostats to integrate with eSPACE or the other event schedulers mentioned above. That’s right…if you have Network Thermostats, or are considering obtaining them, then you can increase your energy and operation efficiency by integrating them to you event and facility scheduling software.

With COOLSPACE/eSPACE integration, you can easily schedule all the events in your facility and know that the HVAC systems will respond to each event as they occur. Not only can you realize energy savings with improved HVAC run-times, your facility staff is able to devote more time to other needs as the scheduling will be seamless and automatic.

If you are looking for ways to increase operational efficiency and reduce energy consumption, you need to check out all of our HVAC and ChMS Integrations.  You will be glad you did!