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.


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?


WOW – You Offer THAT?!

The other day I was contacted by a man from a church who was working with a committee he had established to help his church understand the importance of taking care of and planning for the inevitable future costs related to their church facilities. He had downloaded one of our eBooks (Church Facility Stewardship) and was interested in other resources to make his case.

As I started to compile a response, I paused and stared at the screen…WOW – THAT IS INCREDIBLE! As the email developed and the list grew, I was frankly humbled and blown away with the resources that we have been able to make available to churches across the country.

If you have not checked out what we have developed (many resources are free) and what services we provide…just take a look at the list below.

  1. 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account –  Free eBook – This was written as a primer for churches that are starting from Square 1 with a capital reserve.
  2. Church Facility Evaluator – Free tool to evaluate some of the key operational metrics/costs of a church related to national averages.
  3. Church Facility Stewardship Manual – Almost 300 pages of information for any church to use to establish and further their facility management initiatives.
  4. Other Resources – We have written a number of books and other material.
  5. Assessments/Training – We also provide a number of assessments and training.
  6. Life Cycle Calculator – This is a free software that will help ANY organization establish their capital reserve plan and project funds needs and when.
  7. eSPACE – Facility Management Software – We originally developed this software suite for churches, but since 2008,  we now have private and public schools, colleges, YMCAs, municipalities and other facility/property managers. In addition to the free Life Cycle Calculator from above, we have subscription offerings for:
    1. Event Management 
    2. Work Order Management
    3. HVAC Integration 
  8. Church Facility Management  Solutions – This is a new membership website that we recently released…VERY excited about this!

If your church has a facility…you need to familiarize yourself with the above items and take advantage of the best set of tools to help you be a GREAT steward!


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!


Why Use Facility Management Software for Your Church: Part 1

How do you track and process work requests at your facility:

Legal Pad?

Excel spreadsheet?

Post-it Notes?

Cross your fingers, then hope and pray?

I would like to explore a better option for tracking work orders, service history, equipment inventory and condition, capital improvements, defective equipment log, vendor log, on-site maintenance, staff assignments…and so much more. We will take the next several weeks to investigate the needs of most churches to track work orders as well as being proactive tracking capital improvements to assist in your annual budgeting process.

To get started let’s develop some common language…here are some words and phrases that will help us in this discussion:

  1. Work Order Process: This process generally starts with a request from within your church/ministry that someone is asking to be addressed (i.e. It is too hot in our classroom, the copier is not working, the toilet is clogged, etc…sound familiar?). The work order is the necessary processed so that your team can facilitate the inspection, review, acceptance and fulfillment of the work order.
  2. Scheduled Maintenance: Work that reoccurs on a regular basis (or should occur on a regular basis).  These can include Preventive Maintenance items (i.e. HVAC servicing, changing filters, systematic replacement of light bulbs, certification of fire extinguishers, regular maintenance on elevators and other systems with moving parts) as well as other items that need to be scheduled and tracked on a regular basis (i.e. housekeeping items, yard maintenance, mulch in the plant beds, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, etc, etc, etc).
  3. Capital Improvement/Reserves: These are items that are identified as having a predicted life cycle with a predetermined or expected end of its useful life/service. These would be items that would require capital funds to replace or significantly modify in order to extend or start a new Life Cycle (i.e. replacement of HVAC equipment, paving in the parking lot, replacing or re-coating roofing materials, replacement of floor coverings, etc).
  4. Vendor Management: Who does work on your facility? Is it by on-staff personnel…outside vendors…volunteers? Regardless of who does the work, you need to assign the work and then follow up on the completion of the work. You also need to track Certificates of Insurance for vendors that are not on staff at the church. There needs to be clear and definitive communication to all personnel that are performing services for the church including the assigning of work, tracking of the work, issuing the proper paper work (i.e. work orders, PO’s, work scopes, “not to exceed” amounts for the work, warranty fulfillment…and so much more). All of this would fall under the category of Vendor Management.
  5. Equipment Tracking/Inventory Control: Your facility has HVAC equipment, light fixtures, bulbs, plumbing fixtures, water heaters, kitchen equipment, IT equipment, office equipment, yard equipment, cleaning equipment…and the list goes on.  So…what is your process for tracking the manufacturer, make, model, components, warranty remaining, quantity of items, service history (when was the last time this was serviced, repaired or replaced) and other aspects associated with this equipment? Do you even know the make and model number of all of your equipment…if not…why not?

OK…now that we have started to develop a common language, we will explore how a process and system can be developed to help you with managing your facilities. To keep this all in perspective, let’s not forget that our ministry facilities are large, complex, commercial structures…with lots of very expensive moving parts that need to be maintained, serviced and repaired. These facilities have been ENTRUSTED to us…so let’s do our part to steward them.

More to come next time…


Does the 80% Rule Still Apply?

I have been working with churches since the mid 1980’s (I know…I am old!!!). During that era, most of the churches I served bought pews for their worship space. That was the norm. The rule of thumb of 80% occupancy meant being full was very applicable. In a pew configuration, the code considers a “seat” to be every 18″ in width. LOL…not with most deacons I know! A better measurement would be 21″-22″. So we have some space that the fire marshal says are seats that really aren’t. But the other major factor with pews is the “spread out” space…you know, the place to lay my Bible, or a ladies purse or coat. Most people using pews take up far more than their fair share of butt space, so the 80% rule was serious business and a key indicator for most churches.

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, more and more churches moved to flexible seating…usually in the form of a stackable chair. These proved to be a great way to utilize a facility by having the flexibility to add or remove seating or to totally take it down for other functions. Most of these seats were in the 20″-22″ range and even could interlock to give the illusion of a pew. Two primary benefits for a church was the sheer cost (typically lower than a pew) and the designated seat per butt. It allowed for a quantifiable 1:1 ratio of people to chairs. This should have made the 80% rule obsolete, but there was still the mindset that we needed the “spread out” space and so many people still consumed 2+ chairs to accommodate their personal property and desire for personal space. In addition, there was still a paradigm of allowing people to enter the worship space and sit where ever they liked. This meant that you would have spotty areas of seating with 1 chair here or two there or the entire front row empty. These two realities made the 80% rule still viable and necessary for worship space planning.

However…I think we are seeing a real trend that is impacting change of the 80% rule. There are two primary contributors to this shift:

  1. Theater Style Seats– This has been a growing trend over the past 7-10 years and I believe it will only continue. Theater seats allow you to have the 1:1 people to seat ratio, but most have an integral arm rest between seats so it is easier to obtain your personal space. In addition, the fold-down seat requires enough weight and force for it to fold that it is not as convenient for someone to try and use it to lay their Bible…as it will just fall to the ground, unless you have one of those large white leather coffee table Bibles.

There are several other benefits that theater seats offer such as:

  • Allowing more seats in a similar space as chairs.in some cases 10-15% more seats. That give you more bang for your buck.
  • Parking requirements will be “right-sized” compared to the calculations required for flexible seating.
  • Same applies to your total restroom counts.
  • With the total number of occupants identified by the number of seats and not a square footage calculation, your HVAC system can also re right-sized…which can reduce costs both initially as well as related to life cycle.
  1. Crowd Control– Do you just let people sit wherever they like?  Does your worship space fill up from the back to the front and from the aisles to the middle? I have seen a very helpful trend being used by growing churches…what I will call “crowd control” or seat assigning or for those of you looking for a politically correct term –  concierge seating. There are several attributes to this methodology that I see can help with your worship seating:
  • Segment off the worship space from front to back. I have seen many churches using pipe-and-drape or just ropes to barricade the back section of the worship space until the front fills up and then then will open up the back section in increments to keep the room “full”  from front to back.  This helps to ensure that the rooms fills before more seats are made available and also provides less distraction when late-comers arrive as they can sit in the available seats in the rear.
  • Ushers direct traffic in the worship space. While this may sound controlling, what if your ushers helped people fill in every row from front to back and from aisle to aisle? Instead of letting people camp out on the end cap of a row, ask them to move all the way to the opposite end and then back-fill the row until it is 100% full. No saving seats. No spaces empty. While this may not feel natural, if you are space deprived…or feel like you are and yet still have more seats than people, this will help you maximize the occupancy.

It is my opinion that if you utilize the above two methods to manage your worship seating, you can exceed to the 80% rule to 85-90%…maybe more. You may ask why this is important me (and to you). Here is why…it goes back to stewardship…financial and facility stewardship.  If we can maximize the space God has already entrusted to us before we venture into a another building initiative, we are being better stewards of our current spaces as well as the money entrusted to us. I like the sound of that.


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.

 

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.

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! 

Is Your Technology Actually Helping You Minister Better?

By: Neil Miller of KiSSFLOW

On the Monday Morning Church podcast, I speak to Executive Pastors and Church Administrators about the monumental changes in technology over the last 15 years.

It is amazing to hear how churches are using tools that few could have dreamed of earlier. Technology, like church management software, has allowed churches to scale their impact like never before.

But the same church leaders are also worried that technology is eating too much time from their staff.

Think about your own setting. How many hours a day do ministers at your church spend in front of a screen? How much of that time do they spend manually updating information, editing volunteer profiles, and transferring data from spreadsheets? How long does it take them to respond to all the emails piling up in their inbox?

When it comes to facilities, how much time is spent updating logs, checking HVAC schedules, and sorting through work orders?

Technology has given us amazing benefits, but it also demands a lot of our attention.

What if there was a way to retain all the benefits of technology, while at the same time freeing up ministers to actually have more time to spend with people?

“There’s a sweeping trend that has taken the business world by storm, and churches are smart to open their sails to it.”

Automation.

While it may sound like an imposing word that your church isn’t ready for, it’s likely exactly what you need.

With automation, a church can take a deep look at the workflows of their regular processes – both those that involve the whole congregation (e.g. communication approval, facility requests, and volunteer registration) and those focused on how the facilities run (e.g. work orders, purchase requests, and event scheduling).

By automating a workflow, you not only set up a standard way to handle the process every time, you can also eliminate manual tasks such as sending notifications, updating calendars, and transferring data.

In addition to giving pastors and ministers more time back in their schedules, automation can also:

  • Standardize your core processes to ensure consistency across campuses
  • Reduce the number of errors that happen because of manual transfers
  • Give an audit trail of every request
  • Track the current status of any item instantly

Take a standard Facility Usage Request. A manual workflow can have lots of holes in it. There could be missing critical information, the request could miss an important approval, and it could take hours to figure out the last person who acted on the request.

When you use automation tools like eSPACE and KiSSFLOW, you can set up a standard process to run with consistency and efficiency. You can even set up conditional workflow paths, requiring additional approvals for larger spaces or additional steps if the requester needs to pay for the usage.

Automation is a way to keep the massive scaling benefits of technology without having to dedicate so much time to it.

Companies around the world have already embraced automation and use it to improve their processes. Churches can do the same to reduce the administrative burden on pastors and free them up to connect with people more.

For a full overview of automation and some tips on your first steps, download the free Beginner’s Guide to Church Automation. You’ll learn how other churches are using automation and why it’s more accessible than ever before.

Neil Miller is the host of the Monday Morning Church Podcast, presented by KiSSFLOW, the church automation solution. To learn more about KiSSFLOW and see how churches are using automation, visit http://church.kissflow.com.

Church Facility Projects – Before You Move In

The facility is almost ready and it’s easy to see what the final product will look like.  As you make plans to move in and use the new building, there are several items left to manage.

1. Request the “as-built” drawings from the builder.  These are different from the initial plans the architect provided as they show exactly where the construction crew placed ducts, plumbing, electrical wiring, and more (in other words, all the supporting elements hidden behind the drywall). You’ll want these drawings in the future when you need to track down where a water leak is coming from, what electrical wires to reroute for a remodel, etc.

2. Think through what service providers you’ll use for ongoing maintenance and repair work. Who will maintain the HVAC systems? Who will handle janitorial work? Who is your preferred plumber? Which vendor will you purchase your paper products from? Create this list and keep the contact information of each vendor in a central location.

3. Interview vendors and get new or updated preventative maintenance contracts (and other contracts for cleaning services, paper products, etc.).  Preventative maintenance helps you avoid a catastrophic breakdown of any key system.  What would happen if your air conditioning stopped working during a Texas summer and you can’t get it replaced for a week?  That’s not an ideal scenario for Sunday services. Preventative maintenance contracts could include maintenance for roofing, elevators, HVAC units, commercial kitchens, fire extinguishers, and more.

4. Once you’ve selected the vendors you want to use and have contracts with them, enter that information into the system you plan to use to manage ongoing maintenance (such as eSPACE’s Work Order Management application).  The General Contractor should provide you with a list of all equipment (an owner’s manual of sorts).  You’ll need to enter that list into your maintenance system as well.

5. Other factors to consider before move-in:

  • How are we going to key the building?
  • Who will have access to those keys?
  • What security plan do we have in-place?
  • What’s our facility use policy for the new facility?
  • Do we have certain rules?
  • Will we charge for certain types of facility usage? If so, what’s the rate and criteria for usage?  You’ll need to document this information and communicate it to the church staff.
  • Inventory – Consider taking and maintaining an inventory of certain supplies.  This list may include light bulbs, paper products, HVAC filters, cleaning supplies, and others.
  • Outsource vs. handle in-house – Will we outsource janitorial or other facilities maintenance work?

6. Re-review your operational budget for the new facility and start to make “payments” for these costs (to yourself) to start to get accustomed this new spending reality.

7. From a funding perspective:

  • Keep the vision of the project alive and celebrate it.  Keep it at the forefront in the hearts and minds of your congregation.  This helps them stay enthusiastic about the project and provides a gentle reminder to keep their financial pledge.
  • Take any milestone moment that’s connected to the vision and celebrate that moment with the church.  Share why the project is mission critical to achieving that vision.

Intentional organizations plan today for tomorrow’s costs. That’s why it’s critical you establish a capital reserve account now. Download our FREE eBook to learn more.