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!


HVAC Solutions – FREE eBOOK

Can we all agree that HVAC operations, maintenance, scheduling, and replacement are one of the LARGEST expenditures, both in dollars and operation/manpower resources, that your church experiences?

Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. however, if we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs. If we reduce the amount of run-time, we can increase the life of our units if that is also coupled with proactive intentional maintenance. This frees up money to spend on other ministry endeavors.

Nearly every church in the county has some form of heating, cooling and ventilation system; as such, these issue are universal. They not exclusive to those in Miami or Anchorage.

“If we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs.”

In light of that, we have just released a new FREE eBook called HVAC Solutions: Taking control of your HVAC to Reduce Energy Costs, Extend Life Cycle, and Increase Operational Efficiency“.

This invaluable resource will help you better understand:

  1. The impact of your HVAC usage on your utility costs
  2. How maintaining and replacing HVAC units can get expensive
  3. Ways your facility staff could spend their time elsewhere
  4. That functioning HVAC units make people happy

We will also explore how to reduce energy costs and extend the life of your HVAC units by adopting more effective behaviors and the use of control systems.

Download your FREE copy today!


Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. HVAC usage can be attributed to 50-75% of your utility bills and HVAC maintenance and replace are your second or third largest capital expenditure not to mention the cost of staff to constantly change settings for events. If you are looking for a means by which to increase operational efficiency and control costs, then this resource is a MUST read.

Don’t Just Raise the Bar; Be the Bar

I love the new television commercials for the Ford F-150 that ends with: It Doesn’t Raise the Bar, It is the Bar.

The obvious connotation is that Ford is not raising the bar…but they ARE the bar that everyone else chases and tries to obtain.  I love that.

Now, let me be clear, I am not a Ford guy…in fact…I am not an any “brand” guy. I have owned Fords, Chevy, GMC (I am still driving my 14 year old Yukon with 198,00 miles), Toyota and others.

I do like Ford’s confidence and guts to claim to be the best. Is it true? I am not getting into that discussion. But what I do want to look at is being BEST-IN-CLASS…more than just bravado or words, but in actions and deeds. I have used the analogy that you can get a chicken sandwich (and a taco and a burger and…) from Jack-In-The-Box, but if I am looking for a “best-in-class” chicken sandwich, I go to Chick-fil-A.

Our team has made a very INTENTIONAL decision to be the Chick-fil-A of the church software market.  We are not trying to be all things to all people. It is not our competency. We are FACILITY PROFESSIONALS that have developed best-in-class Facility Management software solutions for those responsible to steward their ministry facilities. PERIOD…end of story. No if, and, or but!  We are here to serve the church as it relates to their facilities usage, management, maintenance, integration, controls, training, services, and life cycle planning.

eSPACE does not accommodate member management, child check-in, small groups, accounting, missions trip planning, worship service planning…we are all about FACILITIES.

As we shared last week, given our conviction, we have integrated with many of the “best-in-class” Church Management Software applications…you can see the whole list HERE.

If Facility Stewardship is important to your church, then you owe it to yourself and your congregation to give us a look and see how we can assist you to be EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT and INTENTIONAL with the facilities God has entrusted to you to steward.

We ARE the Bar!


eSPACE integrates with the tools you use to manage your church. You can now integrate your Church Management Software with the industry leading suite of Facility Management applications including HVAC Integration, Event Management, Work Order Management, and Capital Reserve Planning

Efficiency On Steroids – Church Management (ChMS) + eSPACE

For years, the eSPACE Team has been asked “Does eSPACE integrate with our Church Management Software?”

Great question!

If you have been asking that question and want to utilize the eSPACE Event Management module or HVAC Integration, then we have good news.  For many of you, the answer is YES!

eSPACE has developed an integration of our COOLSPACE HVAC Integration (either via a Building Automation System* or WiFi Thermostats) for the following Church Management Software (ChMS) applications:

  1. Church Community Builder (CCB)
  2. ShelbyNEXT
  3. Rock RMS
  4. Ministry Platform
  5. Elexio
  6. Elexio Community
  7. FellowshipOne GO
  8. Simple Church
  9. FellowshipOne Premier/Event U (there are some specific requirements for this to function…call for details)
  10. Servant Keeper
  11. ACS (HVAC only)

*Some hardware may be required

What is even better…you don’t have to abandon your ChMS calendar as this integration can either work in the background or in the forefront…your choice.

eSPACE has developed an HVAC Integration called COOLSPACE that can integrate with many Building Automation Systems and some WiFi Thermostats.

Welcome to the future of software integration and the world of the “Internet of Things.”

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.

For continued efficiency, integration with eSPACE allows your ChMS scheduler to still be the front end interface for your general users and staff while the Facility and Event Management Teams can utilize the robust features of eSPACE as their daily management tool. You do not have to train the majority on new systems, and your facility team can really drill down into the more detailed information and planning tools needed to intentionally manage and maintain facilities.

Do we have your attention?

You are going to want to contact us so we can share how this can help your church be more Efficient, Effective, and INTENTIONAL with the ministry tools God has entrusted to you.

Sound too good to be true?

Welcome to the future of software integration and the world of the “Internet of Things.”

Contact us for more details! 

Bellevue Baptist Church Switches to eSPACE

Over the last year, our team has fielded a growing number of calls from churches using other event scheduling software. Our Lorrie Eriksen, Solutions Strategist, has assisted many of these clients including Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, TN (Memphis area).Bellevue aerial

Bellevue was the sponsoring church that commissioned and initiated the development of ServiceU more than 12 years ago; however, for a variety of reasons, they made the switch to eSPACE late last year. Bellevue is a large church (750,000+ SF on more than 300 acres) with multiple campuses, currently using the eSPACE Event Scheduler and COOLSPACE JACE Driver modules.

So why did Bellevue make the switch to eSPACE?  Steve Cowart, Director of Events Management shares:

“While we were pleased with our previous long-term calendar and scheduling provider, we were concerned about the future because of the many ownership changes they had experienced in the past few years. A couple of years ago we began searching for another provider for these services.

Bellevue has more than 400 spaces that can be scheduled, including classrooms, auditoriums, conference, banquet and other rooms. We knew that a robust scheduling system would be required to manage the facility in order to eliminate scheduling conflicts.

We found the eSPACE product from Cool Solutions Group and researched and tested it thoroughly for almost a year. We found eSPACE to be a powerful system and, most importantly, user friendly. We ‘went live’ with eSPACE in the spring of 2016 and have been very pleased.eSpace_Logo_Md

The relationship with the eSPACE team has been great. The company has responded to our requests for new features and they’ve made slight revisions to existing features. The training offered, both online and at our facility, has been excellent.

We have also found that the product is a great value and we’re saving hundreds of dollars a month compared to our previous provider.”

Debbie Campbell, Ministry Assistant, and Office of the Pastor, has found eSPACE to be a tremendous tool. Here is what she had to say about us:

Our experience with Cool Solutions Group/eSPACE has been wonderful. It has been much better than what you would expect when transitioning from one software to another. The transition was very smooth and couldn’t have gone any better. The eSPACE team was there every step of the way and was always available for any questions or concerns we had. They’ve worked to accommodate our needs in a calendaring system that works great for us.”

“The Event Scheduler has been a great tool for calendaring all our events. One of the many benefits that I love about it is the ability to have multiple schedules within one event entry. Many times, you will need multiple spaces within one event that have different setup or start/end times. Another benefit I love is the Calendar itself. I take advantage of the filtering when searching a certain day for a certain room. The ability to export the calendar to Outlook is a tool our Information Center has taken advantage of. This gives them quick access to all events occurring on a daily basis. I also like to check out The Knowledge Base/Recent updates periodically. It keeps me informed of any updates, fixes or changes that have been made.”

Thank you Bellevue Baptist Church for choosing eSPACE and for entrusting us with your Event and HVAC Scheduling needs.

How are you handling your facility management needs? If you are searching for a solution, we invite you to check out eSPACE. We have the ONLY 3-in-1 Facility Management software solution on the market (Event Scheduler + Work Order Management + HVAC Integration) and the ONLY WiFi thermostats that integrate with our platform.

Come check us out!  

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COOLSPACE Pro

 

Operational Equality + Intentionality = Operational Efficiency

In a recent blog by Seth Godin (my favorite blogger and author), he outlined what I would refer to as Operational Equality (my words not his…so don’t blame him). Read these 4 sentences from his blog and then sit back and ponder them.  They are far more impactful and revolutionary than they may seem at first blush:

Something rare is happening, and it might not last long.

Today, right now, anyone with a $300 laptop can use the very same tools as the people at the top of just about any industry.

If you want to write, you have the same writing tools available to you as the most successful writers in the world.

If you want to join a social network, well, the software that connects the titans of your industry is the very same software you can use.

For generations, only the rich or elite or privileged or large organizations had all the “best tools” and access to the leading edge technology.  Think about a few examples:

Until the time of the Gutenberg press, only religious elite had access to the Bible and scripture…now many of us carry our Bible in our pockets on our Smart devices in nearly ever translation.

Until recently, only Meteorologists had access to weather forecasts…now with an app on your phone you can get almost as much data

Used to be that only Stock Brokers could assist you with purchasing stocks and bonds…not any more!

10-15 years ago, only the largest facilities had access to building automation systems…today it is rare NOT to have one.

Think about the internet…it does not matter if your organization has 2 people or 2 thousand, we all login to the same internet which means we have the same access.  This is one of the first times in society that “operational” equality has been so flat lined…which means, there are very few reasons to not be working, playing, developing, managing, leading, writing, creating, etc. using tools that are available to organizations smaller or larger than your own.  How many of you still use a 3″ Yellow Pages to search phone numbers? Have you bought a car lately? Did you only rely on the word of the dealer as to the value, service history or life cycle?  Probably not?

Let’s take it another step.  Just because we have a tool/system that “works” (or maybe better said is, “USED” to work when we first implemented it) does not mean it is the best or most efficient tool know. My manual screw drivers still work fine and they “can” get the job done…but my battery powered screwdriver is much more efficient for most applications. My 1986 “car phone” could probably still make calls (maybe) but compared to my iPhone 6S, there is no comparison.  I have faxing capability on my printer…but I cannot tell you the last time I used it. Just because faxing was the best way to send documents 10-15 years ago does not necessarily make it the most productive today. My old Excel spreadsheet used to be fine for managing our corporate books, but QuickBooks is such a better tool and application for financial accounting

Get my point?  I think so.

So as an organizational leader, with responsibility for your physical facilities, are you INTENTIONAL about utilizing the best tools to get the job done?  You virtually have access to the same tools, means and methods as the people managing your local mall or downtown office towers.  Given the myriad of tools, resources, blogs, articles, etc,  there are very few excuses to not be utilizing the most up to date systems and processes to manage your facilities.

Here is a partial list of the tools your organization should be utilizing to increase your Operational Efficiency…and they are all just a click away:

  1. Facility/Event Scheduling Software
  2. Facility Management and Work Order Management Software
  3. Life Cycle Projection Tools
  4. Some level of Building Automation…at least for your HVAC system…maybe WIFI Thermostats (call me for more details!!!)

Anything less is like living in the stone-age.

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