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Utilizing building automation to drive customer satisfaction and reduce service overhead

Automated HVAC Maintenance

How many hot or cold calls do you get from a property manager in a month? How many of those calls are software or building automation (BMS) related? How many of your technicians are qualified to work on these systems?

Evolve your HVAC maintenance with these ideas to drive down costs and improve satisfaction ratings

By: Zach Denning

How many hot or cold calls do you get from a property manager in a month? How many of those calls are software or building automation (BMS) related? How many of your technicians are qualified to work on these systems?

Building automation has evolved into the backbone of modern HVAC installations. Sites without control systems are like cars without cruise control – Nearly extinct!

35-55% of all hot and cold calls can either be repaired or identified through the BMS – Drastically reducing repair times and repeat service calls. Unfortunately, most HVAC service providers overlook these systems in lieu of sending a technician to the site.

Let’s take a look at a few different ways you can utilize automation to drive service value:

1. Partner with an automation provider or consultant – For service!

Many mechanical service providers currently have 2-3 automation companies they’re partnered with in case of system failures, retrofits or new construction. But what about service?

Partnering with an automation provider or consultant allows service providers to screen hot and cold calls before having to send out a technician. If the problem can’t be repaired remotely, your BMS partner is able to suggest potential “next steps” or repairs – Ensuring you get the correct technician for the job.

2. Recommend an analytics or fault-diagnostics to your customer

Analytics and fault-diagnostic systems help HVAC service providers and property management by monitoring equipment 24/7 for problems and inefficiencies. The average Preventative Maintenance (PM) contract has a technician onsite for 4-8 hours per quarter – Only 4-8% of the total equipment runtime!

Cloud-based platforms proactively find problems like worn valves, stuck dampers, failed thermostats and malfunctioning software – All before they impact tenants. Some analytic systems are even capable of quantifying the issues, helping service providers build business cases around replacing components before they fail.

3. Train technicians how to navigate common building automation systems

Investing time and money into technicians for training has to have a quick return. Choose at least 1-2 of the most common control systems (Tridium, Johnson Controls, Honeywell or Trane) and invest in training a few of  your more “tech-savvy” employees. Cost per class is typically $2-3k, at which time you can obtain licensed software from the manufacturers.

Your newly minted control technicians might not be able to program the latest Title-24 sequences, but they can surely troubleshoot common issues – Equating to quicker response times, fewer repeat issues and higher customer satisfaction.

 

Service providers must understand that building automation is no longer a “glorified time-clock” and these systems play a key role in efficiently identifying and repairing HVAC-related issues. Integrating automation into your HVAC services full-time ensures faster, more targeted responses to common issues.

 

 

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building including HVAC life-cycle costs, forecasted maintenance & upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

Three things to know before investing in an “intelligent building”

Intelligent Building - Ideas for your next intelligent building

Intelligent buildings are the future but what does “intelligent” actually mean? How do you guarantee savings from smart building technologies? Are all building technologies created equal?

Intelligent buildings are the future – Find out if they should be in yours!

By: Zach Denning

 

Technology has evolved dramatically in the last fifteen years. Cell phones have evolved into “smart phones” and laptops have been replaced with tablets. The last industry anyone would consider being linked to the tech bubble would be HVAC – Laggard, maybe. Left out, certainly not!

HVAC technology investments in commercial buildings account for nearly 2.00/sq. ft. and comprise of microprocessors, IP enabled gateways and thousands-of-lines of coding. Intelligent buildings have the ability to network HVAC equipment with the intent to maximize energy savings and reduce maintenance costs.

With the building technology market growing larger, some providers are making astronomical claims that may leave your building with a single digit IQ.

 

Here are some ideas to consider before investing in your intelligent building project:

 

1. Cost-saving advantages touted by technology companies typically require 3rd party setup

Building automation systems (BMS) manufacturers argue energy and maintenance cost-savings as a benefit when considering upgrades. Although most systems are capable of substantial reductions the real savings are in the programming or coding – Not the hardware itself!

Even configurable systems still require a competent 3rd party programmer or technician for proper setup. The “intelligence” in intelligent buildings typically revolves around the actual coding or programming of the hardware.

Imagine Apple releasing the first iPhone without a single App and touting that it will reduce your business overhead by 30%! Although a great platform, even the iPhone would still require talented developers to scratch out code in order to make these lofty claims.

When investing in a new intelligent building platform ensure that the 3rd party integrator can guarantee claims made to you by the manufacturer.

 

2. Maintenance cost-savings require your service provider to understand technology

At least 30-35% of the total cost-savings associated with intelligent buildings are in maintenance and operation. Commercial HVAC operating costs are traditionally 60-70% energy and 30-40% maintenance.

Although some HVAC audits omit maintenance savings as part of their returns they have a profound impact on returns. Relying soley on energy savings as justification for an intelligent building can almost double simple payback – Inclusion of maintenance savings can drive payback down to less than 2-years!

HVAC service providers capable of interacting with building technologies can reduce total operating costs as much as 21-24% annually  – With tenant complaints dropping almost 50%! Make sure your maintenance provider knows how to work with your new system to ensure you hit your savings goals.

 

3. Ongoing service is necessary for ongoing savings

Intelligent building technologies are often incorporated into sustainable investment strategies – Although they lack sustainability as standalone investments! Systems like building automation and analytics must be constantly maintained and tuned by a certified 3rd party to ensure ongoing savings and efficiency.

Investments like building automation should include costs associated with life-cycle maintenance in order to get accurate return data. Unlike solar or other energy-based investments, the “one-and-done” mentality can have massive impacts on return calculations.

The average HVAC system degrades at a rate of 12-15% annually which must be accounted for with ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Inability to quickly resolve lingering issues leads to high-cost failures and tenant impact.

Ensure your service provider includes specific details about maintaining your intelligent building investment – It’s worth it!

 

Understanding and implementing the above ideas on your next intelligent building investment will help safeguard expectations and calculated savings. If you have any questions or ideas on upcoming projects feel free to shoot us a call and one of our engineers will be happy to help!

 

 

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building including HVAC life-cycle costs, forecasted maintenance & upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

Three key trends we’ve learned about the HVAC industry

The HVAC service industry hasn't evolved in the last 25-years although equipment has seen massive changes.

The HVAC service industry hasn’t evolved in the last 25-years although equipment has seen massive changes.

HVAC service is trending towards disruptive changes and here’s why!

By: Zach Denning

HVAC equipment has changed drastically in the last 25-years. Technicians are being stretched outside their comfort zones with job requirements similar to that of IT professionals. Owners and managers are finding it harder and harder to differentiate between providers leaving the bottom line as a primary motivator for selection criteria.

Even the way equipment is being installed and services has altered with the advent of technology as a driver of efficiency. Building automation (BMS) and “smart units” are enabling service providers to try new approaches to resolving typical temperature issues.

Here are some of the major trends in the industry and what to expect:

The HVAC industry has become a commoditized market

Despite HVAC becoming more complex and increasingly efficient, owners and managers are having a harder time differentiating providers. Terms like “value engineering” are now represented by the lowest bidder dropping key design elements to win projects – Irregardless of how those changes impact Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

The influx of new HVAC design and installation firms has also been a key driver. Every year over 11,000 new HVAC contractors enter the market with an average closing rate of 15% – Further adding to market confusion for end users and diluting value.

HVAC Preventative Maintenance (PM) contracts haven’t evolved in 30-years

Building automation has undergone massive overhauls in the last 25-years with the adoption of processors equivalent to mobile technology. Almost every piece of equipment in commercial buildings has some form of monitoring or control essential to discovering and ratifying issues.

The standard PM contracts doesn’t address technology as a value driver. In fact, it hasn’t changed since equipment ran on air-driven controllers – Controllers that aren’t electronic!

  • 75% of all tenant complaints are HVAC related
  • 60% of those issues are software or building automation related

This means that 45-50% of all issues reported by your tenants can be identified and repaired remotely without ever seeing a technician. “Virtual service” or monitoring-based contracts are beneficial for both parties as they lower customer costs, contractor overhead, and repair times.

Skilled technicians have become a scarcity

The Millenials and generational technology gaps haven’t been kind to the HVAC industry. Established technicians are finding it hard to transition into psuedo-programmer roles necessary to properly maintain equipment and supporting technology. Building owners and tenants are suffering the cost-impact of repeat HVAC issues from inaccurately conceived solutions as technicians fail to find the root of software-related problems.

Even worse, Millenials are choosing white-collar technology jobs over blue-collar labor like HVAC and construction. The labor pool of HVAC technicians is not only worsening, it’s also shrinking!

What changes can we expect to see?

Technology has been the primary driver in the evolution of HVAC standards. Yet, most service providers are choosing to combat labor shortages and skill deficiencies with price wars instead of innovation.

Adopting new technologies to supplant physical presence for service opens up new opportunities for maintenance contracts and new hire criteria. Maintenance contracts based around remote monitoring and repair not only reduce overhead, they allow providers to choose from a new labor pool – One predisposed to technology that can be taught HVAC fundamentals!

Be forewarned, the HVAC installation and service landscape is headed for major disruptive changes beneficial to both building owners and contractors!

 

 

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building including HVAC life-cycle costs, forecasted maintenance & upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

How to get the most out of your HVAC service contract without spending more

How much do you actually get for your HVAC preventative maintenance? Are you able to measure the savings versus not having a service contract at all? What can you do to start reducing HVAC related tenant complaints and get a handle on your energy bills?

How much do you actually get for your HVAC preventative maintenance? Are you able to measure the savings versus not having a service contract at all? What can you do to start reducing HVAC related tenant complaints and get a handle on your energy bills?

Evolving your HVAC service contracts to curb complaints and high energy bills!

By: Zach Denning

Preventative maintenance was originally designed to reduce emergency failures and ultimately HVAC related tenant calls. Most studies conclude that there are 12-15% maintenance savings in preventative over reactive service from proper inspection and upkeep of units – Much like maintaining a car!

As with HVAC service, we take our car in for oil changes at least once a year and have the added value of a mechanic checking other components to see if they’re failed. Or, at least that’s what we like to believe.

The reality is that we settle on the $19.95 oil change, drive away with brakes worn to the rotor, and get angry that the “mechanic” forgets to put back the oil plug. Why do we risk so much? Without understanding the actual risk of brake failure or how much you save with every oil change, preventative maintenance is like buying insurance – We only know the value when something goes wrong! Until then, we’ll settle on the cheapest provider.

Breaking down your preventative maintenance:

  • In our studies, we found the average 60k sq. ft. office building to cost between $2,500.00 – 3,200.00 annually for preventative maintenance
    • Technicians do visual and auditory inspection at least 6-8 hours per quarter.
  • The average office building operates a minimum of:
    • 55 hours per week
    • 220 hours per month
    • 2,640 hours annually

This means technicians are only onsite 8/660 hours per quarter – Or 1% of the total operating time of the building. How much can actually be accomplished in that amount of time? The extent of preventative maintenance you’re actually paying for is equivalent to a SpeeDee oil change! Technicians barely have enough time to replace filters, oil units and maybe check on a few lingering issues. Altogether, they’re missing about 55-60% of potential failures that directly lead to your tenants’ being impacted!

Using service to reduce tenant complaints and energy costs – Finding a solution!

The solution isn’t finding a new service provider or increasing existing contract amounts, it’s utilizing existing building technology to increase proactive management and realize savings.

With the advancements in building technology like automation and 24/7 monitoring managers can now get actionable data straight from the building without needing to extend existing service contracts. You still need somebody onsite for some visual and auditory analysis, but most buildings have the technology to notify managers about impending problems before they affect tenants.

The true value of preventative maintenance is finding and repairing issues before they lead to tenant impact and higher energy bills. Emerging building technologies are able to predict and quantify failures before they occur giving you the ability to prioritize repairs as an investment rather than cost impact – At a fraction of the cost of traditional onsite service! Managers and owners can now utilize technology to manage HVAC costs and budget upgrades in order to become proactive instead of reactive with their investments.

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building including HVAC life-cycle costs, forecasted maintenance & upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

Traditional HVAC budgeting is costing you tenants and destroying your bottom line

Replacing and upgrading HVAC has been traditionally based on outdated methods that could be hurting tenants and your bottom line!

Strategies for investing in HVAC with maintenance, upgrades and replacements is evolving beyond visual inspection and estimated industry life.

Strategies for investments in HVAC like maintenance, upgrades and replacements are evolving beyond visual inspection and estimated industry life.

 

By: Zach Denning

We’ve all been told that once your car odometer flips 200k it’s time to start looking for a new car. Based on industry research, large parts like engines and transmissions begin to wear down and the risk of catastrophic failure increases exponentially – Or at least that’s what you believe.

We live in a world of information, yet traditionally, most has been inaccessible or lacked actionable-intelligence until now. Think about how investments in our car would transform if next time you went in for an oil change your mechanic told you the total operating cost savings of replacing air filters or changing belts? You’d probably be more inclined to dip into your piggy bank knowing there was a 2-3 month timeline for return.

What if instead of just real-time MPG, cars showed you MPG degradation over time? Even more, cars tracked maintenance and gas bills to show your total cost of ownership and how efficiently you operated and maintained the vehicle? You would begin thinkinng about replacing your car based on metrics like Return on Investment (ROI) and risk of parts failures (Excluding the leasing crowd) rather than industry averages and routine inspections.

Like cars, HVAC wears down over time. But the difference is HVAC equipment contains the data necessary to establish operating degradation and deliver actionable-intelligence on when, how, and why you should invest. Owners and managers have traditionally relied on tenant complaints, energy bills and industry standards as actionable metrics to drive HVAC upgrades and replacements. All of which amounts to less-than-educated guesses and utilizes risk aversion as a basis for investment – And nobody like spending money on insurance!

So how do you accurately budget equipment replacements without risking tenant comfort or usable life? Start by evaluating investments based on the two most commonly used metrics – Risk and return. If you pair real-time equipment forecasting and tracking to traditional replacement methodologies you can increase equipment life 12-15%, mitigate risk of failure, and guarantee savings.

Understanding HVAC operating costs starts with tracking and forecasting operating costs over time, yielding operating degradation.

 

Measuring HVAC operating degradation over time.

Example – 1: As your equipment ages over time it begins to degrade in total operating costs like maintenance and energy. Degradation forces operating costs to exceed equipment value over time, inducing owners to upgrade units and measure impact on how it curbs operating costs.

In Example – 1 we see that as equipment ages over time it degrades to the point were operating costs like maintenance and energy surpass Replacement Asset Value (RAV). When managers can see degradation in real-time, they can decide when to proactively invest in upgrading units and measure success based on how much operating cost degradation is curbed post-project.

DegradationROI

Example – 2: As operating cost degradation exceeds asset value over time we find that a replacement Return on Investment (ROI) can be tracked. If we invest in equipment and see no change to the ROI we know the next actionable step is to replace the equipment.

What happens when you upgrade a unit with a VFD, or replace a valve, and there is no measurable effect to degradation? Further exploring equipment degradation in Example – 2 shows us that once operating costs surpass Replacement Asset Value (RAV) a Replacement Return on Investment (RROI) is revealed. If real-time ROI isn’t impacted by equipment upgrades, it’s a good indication the unit has aged should be replaced.

Forecasting and tracking equipment costs like energy and maintenance are essential to understanding how effectively you invest in HVAC – From basic maintenance to capital replacements. Without adequate risk and return data you could be replacing equipment too early and upgrading too late, all of which is impacting your bottom line and tenants! 

 

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building including HVAC life-cycle costs, forecasted maintenance & upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

Three ideas property managers can use to drive sustainability in their buildings – Without spending a fortune!

Discover new ideas to drive sustainability in your building without spending a fortune.

Property managers have more knowledge than they might be aware of to greatly reduce building operating costs without tapping into capital reserves.

Try these steps to reduce energy consumption in your building and better control operating costs

By: Zach Denning

 

Large commercial real estate companies typically have sustainability and engineering divisions tasked with finding building inefficiencies throughout their commercial portfolios. When we think building sustainability, our minds drift to sophisticated solutions involving key stakeholders and large capital budgets. Yet, when it comes to HVAC, it may be easier than you think to drive down energy and maintenance costs with little capital.

There’s one person that knows the building and it’s issues better than anyone – The property manager. 6/10 tenant issues reported to property managers are HVAC related – 60% of all energy in a commercial building goes to the HVAC… Spotting a trend?

Property managers have more power than they think to solve key tenant issues and reduce operating costs like maintenance and energy. All it takes is applying some new ideas on how to manage HVAC:

 

1. Track maintenance costs down to the equipment level to maximize equipment life and decrease operating costs

Maintenance is usually tracked as an annual lump sum with the Preventative Maintenance (PM) contract broken out. Like most analytics, lump sum only tells us that you’re spending more or           less – Not where, how or why you’re spending your money.

If you track maintenance costs at the equipment level (valve replacements, filter replacements, etc.), the resulting annualized figure can be used to reveal operating degradation. Dividing annual maintenance costs by total replacement value gives you an indication of equipment Return on Investment (ROI) from a maintenance perspective. A resulting ROI of 0.15 or lower indicates your equipment is working efficiently while 0.3-0.4 tells you it’s time to replace.

Driving equipment replacements from maintenance degradation extends life 10-15%, reduces emergency replacement costs 20-30% and often leads to lower energy costs from increased efficiency.

 

2. Utilize emerging building technologies to forecast and repair failures before they impact tenants and bills

There are a few new building technology services capable of tapping into your buildings HVAC and finding potential failures before they occur – Some even go as far to quantify the issue real-time for easy repair prioritization.

Forecasted maintenance services are typically subscription based, granting managers the flexibility to evaluate cost savings without large capital expenditures. Systems should evaluate issues from a financial perspective allowing managers to acclimate new, actionable data into their workflows without needing a strong technical background.

Finding and repairing issues before the equipment fails not only alleviates the potential risk of failure and tenant impact, it reduces maintenance costs 25-35% and increases equipment efficiency 15-20%.

 

3. Take control of HVAC operation with periodic building automation tune-ups to increase efficiency

50-60% of HVAC related tenant calls in commercial buildings are building automation related. Preventative Maintenance (PM) contracts often fail to identify and remedy automation inefficiencies before they impact your tenants and your energy bills.

Typical issues like hot/cold calls and “doors blowing open” often refer to the controllability of the Building Management System (BMS). Having a controls contractor or consultant audit your system and tune up programming periodically throughout the year can often solve the major issues your tenants have discovered.

Fixing simplistic automation issues often result in 10-15% savings, payback in less than 8-months and extended equipment life.

 

The above recommendations have a proven track record of great payback (<8-months average) and can be easily implemented by property managers – Without needing to brush up on technical skills.

Try them out today and feel free to leave comments on how well they’ve worked for your organization!

 

 

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building including HVAC life-cycle costs, forecasted maintenance & upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

Hot & cold calls ruining your tenant relationships? Learn a new management style to reverse calls and costs without becoming an expert!

You don’t need to be an HVAC expert to make impactful, financially-driven decisions!

By: Zach Denning

Do your tenants complain about temperature issues? Find yourself explaining how bad your HVAC is? Tenant complaints are the result of reactive HVAC management. Proactive management techniques have proven to reduce tenant calls 50% while curbing operating costs 15-20%.

Do your tenants complain about temperature issues? Find yourself explaining how bad your HVAC is? Tenant complaints are the result of reactive HVAC management. Proactive management techniques have proven to reduce tenant calls 50% while curbing operating costs 15-20%.

 

It’s no secret that the majority of tenant complaints in commercial buildings revolve around HVAC. Hot and cold calls make up 8/10 objections lodged by tenants and are the catalyst for declining relationships between tenants and managers. Most tenants may not leave over a few degrees of comfort, but mounting HVAC issues may cause a tenant to look elsewhere before resigning a lease. Let’s face it, when the majority of workers are strapped to an office half of their lives they have every right to be comfortable.

Most managers have come to live with under-performing HVAC – In fact some even forewarn tenants to help manage expectations! So why do we accept status quo when it comes to comfort? Do you know how badly temperature control issues actually affect your tenant? Numerous case studies have cited that even 2-3 degree temperature swings from comfortable conditions ( > 68 or < 72) show 5-7% reduction per degree in productivity. Your losing almost 20% of your bottom line when your office is 76 degrees in the summer!

One of the biggest problems surrounding tenant complaints is reactive management styles.  Yet, it’s not the fault of the owner or property manager. The typical manager has two analytics to derive actionable, financial intelligence – Lump sum, annual energy and maintenance bills. Other than that, they’re service provider is feeding them technically based, End-of-Life (EOL) reports detailing which component or equipment is going to fail next. Building owners typically react to risk aversion or investments – Which neither lump-sum bill analyzation or technical reports deliver!

So how do we command meaningful change? How do we reverse traditional mentalities and avoid having to deliver sub-par comfort? Proactive management. We’ve all heard the term deferred maintenance. Some like to be politically correct and call it an annual budget. What we don’t consider when we put off maintenance, irregardless the reasoning, is the associated risk and cost of efficiency. Equipment costs more money to run when there are lingering component problems. Would you have replaced that air filter in your car if your mechanic told you it would cost you $0.10/mile? How about those bald tires? If he told you there was a 50% chance of wrecking your car and you’d spend $150.00 in the next 1,000 miles, you’d probably be more inclined to shell out!

The reality is that uncalculated risk and returns are never enough to get us to spend our money. We hold it tight to our chests. We spend it either to make more or to prevent losing less. That’s it. HVAC expenditures fall under the same principles. If we’re able to weigh every potential repair, upgrade, and replacement against how much we’re losing daily, or the calculated risk impact to tenants, we now have a reason to invest in temperature control. By understanding how every HVAC expenditure impacts our bottom line, we forego replacements because they either don’t cost us enough or they won’t have an impact on our tenant. We spend money because we’ll either lose more running the equipment versus replacing or the equipment failing will cause a complaint.

Proactive management is about understanding how each investment we make from a preventative maintenance contract to an energy retrofit will impact our bottom line. Versus traditional preventative maintenance, proactive strategies:

  • Save about 30-40% in maintenance costs by reducing emergency repairs
  • Drive down tenant complaints almost 50%
  • Increase energy savings 20-25%

HVAC sustainability is not always in how much energy you save. It’s about understanding equipment costs and driving maintenance and energy efficiency based on impact to the bottom line. If we can forecast life-cycle costs, we understand how much it’s costing us to not replace equipment, or not repair a component, irregardless of technical understanding. Proactive management techniques will drastically improve your relationship with key financial stakeholders, as you turn the cost-impact of HVAC into an investment while reducing tenant calls and operating costs.

 

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management strategies. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building from life-cycle costs to forecasted maintenance, upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

Your HVAC sustainability plan might not be sustainable

Evaluating risk in HVAC sustainability initiatives isn’t as simple as you think!

Ever wondered how to measure your sustainability initiative? What if your utilities don't show savings?

Ever wondered how to measure your sustainability initiative? What if your utilities don’t show savings? Could it be problems with your HVAC?

By: Zach Denning

 

Hiring an Energy Services Contractor or ESCO is typically the first step towards achieving your sustainability goals. In a commercial building they evaluate energy consumption and recommend potential upgrades with quantifiable payback – Often times leading to low-risk investments that drive the value of the property and guarantee savings – Well, at least for the first year.

In commercial buildings HVAC has historically consumed 50% of your utilities, or around $1-3.00 per square foot annually in energy costs, making it a prime target for savings. Owners and tenants typically invest $2-3.00 per square to drive down HVAC related costs under the impression of a 2-4 year payback – That’s $100-150k in a 50k sq. ft. building and almost $6k in estimated monthly savings! But do you know how those savings are broken down? Or were the lump sum savings and payback enough for you to make the investment?

A recent interview with asset managers regarding their sustainability initiatives revealed several inconsistencies with how they evaluated and approved their investments in utility savings. Reviewing initial contracts and line itemizing HVAC returns exposed that the majority of their savings centered around controllability of the equipment – Not high-cost replacements or upgrades. Although modifications to the existing building technology or “temperature cruise-control” yielded more than half of their estimated returns, it also came with the highest amount of neglected risk!

If I buy a brand new Toyota Camry that’s expected to get 35 mpg on the freeway and take away the cruise control I may be lucky to get 25 mpg on my way to work. Building automation, or your building’s “cruise-control,” is the leading cause of return impact and risk in sustainability projects. In our $150k investment above, nearly $40k of the annual savings are driven from the building automation. Breaking down the different building automation measures reveals that on average each measure makes up 7-10% of your total returns! So why would the technology be considered a risk?

Servicing HVAC and its related technology can be a challenge after implementing sustainability-based projects. Control of the HVAC equipment becomes complex. Incorporating more advanced algorithms to properly measure and control to the load in your building – No longer does the HVAC just turn on and off. The same way cruise-control in your car adjusts the throttle up and down to account for hills, HVAC ramps up and down to account for loads like weather and occupancy.

When servicing these newer, ASHRAE Title-24 and LEED based systems, technicians can find themselves overwhelmed and unable to decipher the new algorithms when challenged with solving an HVAC related issue. If a door consistently blows open the fix is not as simple as flipping a switch. Reverse engineering code to predict and repair a problem is often replaced with local, physical overrides or even worse software-lockout of routines – All leading to substantial, untraceable losses in your return.

Maintaining HVAC-related investments is much different than maintaining the actual equipment. Owners and tenants are beginning to realize that more advanced monitoring is necessary to ensure savings and forecast problems before they impact the bottom-line. Traditional preventative maintenance contracts in building technology and HVAC equipment are necessary, although their primary function is not to evaluate, forecast and repair problems as they relate to your investment. The shift to financial-based HVAC management is leading building owners to find more technological ways to measure equipment performance real-time, in order to forecast repairs and curb losses.

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management strategies. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building from life-cycle costs to forecasted maintenance, upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

No-Cost Proactive Building Maintenance

How do you quantify the value of your HVAC maintenance?

By: Zach Denning

How do you substantiate your HVAC preventative maintenance? What tangible results does your preventative maintenance deliver? Building technology has evolved to help you understand your equipment life-cycle costs to forecast maintenance. Performance-based, proactive maintenance can cover the cost of traditional HVAC preventative maintenance contracts and generate revenue to invest in high-priority maintenance.

How do you substantiate your HVAC preventative maintenance? What tangible results does your preventative maintenance deliver? Building technology has evolved to help you understand your equipment life-cycle costs to forecast maintenance. Performance-based, proactive maintenance can cover the cost of traditional HVAC preventative maintenance contracts and generate revenue to invest in high-priority maintenance.

How many times have you signed away thousands of dollars on preventative maintenance contracts out of necessity? Sometimes it’s due to a manufacturer warranty, while other times it’s simply due to the age of the equipment. Yet, without preventative maintenance equipment operation falls into a great unknown void.

You’re not alone – 98% of all building owners and operators happily fall in line with scheduled preventative maintenance in their buildings. Compared to reactive or “last-minute” repairs, preventative maintenance has been shown to save 10-15% on equipment life-cycle costs by ensuring proper running condition – Not optimal, just proper. But has your PM contract provider ever quantified those savings? Would you have reduced the contract amount knowing your HVAC equipment wouldn’t have failed? What if there was a quantifiable way to regularly maintain equipment?

Although preventative maintenance is good for observing and ensuring proper equipment condition, it doesn’t account for real-time operation or forecasting. Even with preventative maintenance, HVAC systems often run with 25-30% efficiency losses; compounded with mechanical degradation from the increased “wear-and-tear” and your system may incur almost 50% excess operating expense. In a recent survey, only 40% of all preventative maintenance contracts included efficiency testing, of which only 15% generated actionable intelligence!

Proactive, performance-based maintenance introduces quantifiable savings and real-time forecasting to routine HVAC maintenance. Utilizing cloud-based platforms, proactive maintenance discovers and quantifies issues while tracking life-cycle costs – Amounting to increased HVAC awareness and better, financially driven decisions. Proactive maintenance can generate operational savings 15-30% over traditional preventative maintenance while decreasing tenant complaints 40-50% through intuitive problem detection.

Armed with these new platforms, contractors can now offer performance based routine maintenance (PM) contracts where everyone benefits from increased building savings – Rather than defaulting to a fixed upfront cost. Performance-based routine maintenance  allows building owners to free up annual budgets and invest savings in sustainability efforts and high priority maintenance.  Before you sign your next preventative maintenance contract ensure that you can substantiate the costs!

 

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management strategies. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building from life-cycle costs to forecasted maintenance, upgrades, andequipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

Building Analytics Debunked

Everything you should know about the next evolution of building technology!

By definition building analytics simply means data analysis. So how are companies using this to their advantage and what do you gain from the investment?

By: Zach Denning

Analytics – The next evolution of building technology. Analytics gives your building a voice. Analytics will save you a fortune on maintenance and operating costs. Analytics can find problems you never knew were there!

Most building owners and managers have heard these punchlines and understand that technology is sweeping though through the building management industry. After years of being over-shadowed by HVAC building technology is taking it’s turn in the spotlight. Much like the cell phone industry, building technology has matured with the emergence of open platforms and interchangeable hardware – Mimicking the rise of Google’s Android platform.

Much the same as Android and iOS, software now embodies new advancements in building technology with the likes of web-based applications and dashboards – Information at your fingertips! So what about analytics? What is analytics? By definition analytics just means data analysis, so how can it be advantageous for managing HVAC?

Let’s look at some common issues surrounding building analytics –

  • Building analytics will save me money on maintenance costs….
    • Analytics are designed to analyze building data and find patterns in equipment usage. Once HVAC equipment deviates from that pattern the system assumes that it’s an abnormality which leads to a proactive alarm – An alarm normally overlooked. Yet, it’s still up to the operator to understand the alarm and make an educated financial decision as to whether it should be repaired or ignored. Although predictive technology can help cut maintenance costs, in most cases it requires an astute level of knowledge to not become an overpriced nuisance!
  • There are many companies that provide analytics, how do I choose one?…
    • When pursuing a higher form of technology for your building think about the gaps in your current HVAC management strategy. Perhaps a software that can accomplish a new proactive maintenance strategy, help track equipment operating costs, or forecast maintenance and upgrades. Evaluate the holes in your business and ensure that the technology you invest in will help to reduce costs, decrease overhead, and help you focus on what matters in managing your building!
  • I want analytics in my building, but it has a long return on investment…
    • Most companies that provide analytics struggle with two things – How to price it and providing estimated returns. Historically, analytic platforms have been a high-priced addition to building technology due to heavy computing requirements and complicated setup. Newer companies are emerging with unique sales models that drive down the initial investment and are based more on subscription type services; Allowing for a quicker return on investment with the ability to opt out if users don’t perceive value. Investing in analytics should be a calculated, financial-based decision not one born from a hunch.
  • Analytics are advanced and use “machine learning” to alert me when equipment isn’t working efficiently..

    • Be careful of your assumptions when it comes to analytic platforms. Most companies tout the advanced capabilities of their platforms, but deliver a much more primitive solution. Deploying advanced statistical analysis or “machine learning” in a building can be extremely challenging for a company who’s core business is building automation or HVAC design – They’re drastically different! Improperly vetting analytic solutions typically leaves managers with a simplistic product that mirrors the capabilities of your existing building technology.
  • Finding and solving HVAC problems will be much easier with analytics…
    • 90% of all analytics deployments are designed to be interpreted by a technical resource. Evaluate how you were using existing building alarms to your advantage when considering an analytics upgrade. Did you dig deeper into the alarm to try and solve the issue, or did you simply ignore it? How many alarms do you currently have backlogged in your current building technology? How much deferred maintenance is in your next budget? If your looking to derive financial explanations for HVAC issues and life-cycle costs you may be more interested in investing in an Operating Cost Management Platform (OCMS). One that utilizes analytics to drive life-cycle cost awareness and delivers actionable, financial intelligence around HVAC issues.

Analytics can be a wonderful tool for the well-versed manager looking to make a technological leap in their HVAC management style. Yet, in most instances, the information these systems derive is highly technical in nature unless utilized in a broader, more financial-based platform like OCMS. If you want to make a leap in understanding how your building operates, start with building a list of issues you want to address – Reducing operating costs, tenant satisfaction, reduced overhead, etc. Ensure your next investment fulfills these voids in your current strategies to facilitate a successful venture.

My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-baesd technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management strategies. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building from life-cycle costs to forecasted maintenance, upgrades, andequipment replacements.   You can reach me at [email protected] or visit our website at www.enerdapt.com

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management