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Initiating Change Management in US Construction / Retrofits
Report on Envirotrol, LLC initiated Change Management in the US Construction or Retrofit Facility Automation Deliverable [June 2013]
The Facility Automation and Operations deliverable is by nature a late stage construction process. While the installed infrastructure for a completed system occurs simultaneously with the rest of the construction process, powering up the controllers and local area communication networks cannot happen until the utilities have been energized and the equipment properly started by both the Mechanical and Electrical Contractors. One of the biggest obstacles has been that once the utility has been initially provided, there is a period of intermittent operation and delivery. This causes delays in the commissioning process and impacts the expectations of all toward the successful completion of the project.
Solutions to mitigate the impact of end of project activities on all trades:
Recognizing the problem, Envirotrol brought management; field operations to discuss innovative ideas to create a smoother transition to final project close out. We determined a key point was the lack of proper communication between the trades.
Improper communication between the trades results in each trade disrupting utility service or equipment operations to affect their final phases of construction or start-up can create a ripple effect that provides unpredictable outcomes to other trades that may, for instance rely on proper utility to complete a final construction task schedule.
A communication vehicle that provides a common and simple platform for easy and open communication between the trades to include project management, superintendents, the owner and other stakeholders should provide an increased opportunity for understanding cause and effect of common contractor activities on the other trades.
Impediments to change:
While the GC is recognized as the central point of communication on most projects, improper delivery of this critical aspect can seriously affect the quality and schedule and provide a disjointed atmosphere between the contractors. Some GC’s have imposed software, while intended to provide the same effect, do not include all of the stakeholders (sometimes because of seat licensing costs) and are sometimes so inconvenient to use that they are not used easily through the field.
Envirotrol Change Management:
After internal discussions to focus on the problems of project communications, we met with the GC and Owner and suggested a simple email group that would be managed by Envirotrol called (project name)Operations@Etrol.net. The distribution list would include all identified stakeholders and would include regular daily reports from each contractor and immediate information about scheduled and unscheduled interruption of services during the construction process. We provided a brief on the intent and proper usage and gathered the email addresses of the stake holders and began a successful communication process during the final stages of construction.
We overcame the predicted resistance from the GC by identifying this as an in-construction operations tool that would provide information to the owner on final activities so that everyone could participate in the successful completion of the project. The GC agreed and we began our change.
The new communication tool was a success. Each contractor understood the value of the tool and used it openly and without fear of retribution or negative comment. The owner stepped up and provided positive feedback to each contractor that participated in the program. When utilities were to be disrupted, orderly responses by the other contractors were performed in a way that made each disruption much more predictable and the result positive.
Objective for Envirotrol’s change management processes:
We look to provide all-inclusive solutions to common, identified obstructions in our processes regardless of the nature of the stakeholders involved and work to provide a better environment for success not only within our own group but through the complete process.
When Being Good, isn’t Good Enough
Remember what the man said, “If I could have a nickel for every dollar that got lost between the cracks of the floor of this operation, I would be a rich man”. Because of the progress in Building Technology, the cracks in the floor have gotten bigger. Not because we have necessarily become more careless in Facility Operations, but because of the wasted opportunity for improvement that technology and Operations Strategies have presented, the cracks in the floor along with the opportunity for improvement have become much larger. Show more...
We, as an industry, have not been very careful with the roll out of improvements in Facility Operations Tools. There have been great improvements in Building Automation and Computer Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) programs that could improve productivity and efficiency in facility operations. The programmers in “the room upstairs” have managed to move forward with communications and interoperability of Facility Management Systems (FMS) to put a different face on our deliverable to support steady state operations. The goods in the storefront look great, but where is the successful application of these initiatives in building operations?
THERE IS MUCH ROOM TO IMPROVE THE DELIVERABLE TO OUR CLIENTS
Many in the facility operations or management industry will recognize the times that a CMMS has been part of a specification for new construction, only to fall by the wayside due to improper application or lack of competent data collection and entry or more typically, the absence of emphasis, proper training and personnel in client operations to understand the value and provide application manpower to use the system.
There are some recognizable successes. Outside intelligence (which, at this time may include anyone that is not in our industry) that has focused on delivering steady state operations for Mission Critical Facilities such as Data Centers and the Nuclear and Powerhouse industries have provided much insight into methods and new developmental and organizational tools that can benefit both mission critical and non-mission critical operations.
Understanding and learning from these strategies and developing them to our facility customers have never been a more worthwhile cause. Recent market turmoil and energy prices provide a required emphasis on reducing the amount of money it costs to produce things. Whether it is a kilowatt hour from a powerhouse operation, IT services from a mission critical data center, or a graduate from a school, college or university, the need to support the process by providing increasingly energy efficient, steady state operations has never been more evident.
CURRENT VS DESIRED STATE: ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
We at Envirotrol are working with our customers to better understand how we, as our client’s partners, can provide more energy efficient steady state operations. Nothing can be left off of the table in this analysis. The cost of doing nothing has increased dramatically both as the result of the current financial crisis and the dramatic increase in energy.
THE URGENCY OF NOW
Our recent presidential campaign has brought a flood of slogans and quotes from the past. One that has stuck in my mind is “the urgency of now”.
Recognition of new opportunities to increase our deliverable in providing services to make our customers more efficient and reduce operating costs requires us to think in a different way. The days of just being good are gone. We are now in a state that being good is not good enough anymore.
There is an observed urgency to get to those who manufacture everything from power to college graduates and provide greater value to their deliverable through more efficient steady state operations.
The cracks in the floor are getting bigger and the consequences of not getting a bucket under them and delivering this value back to our Client’s Facility Operations base have never been more evident.
The Green in All of Us
There is a lot of buzz in the marketplace right now about Green Buildings and all things Green. Sadly, when some things reach a fever in the marketplace, the focus of the original message gets garbled with marketing fluff because everybody now has to convince you that the only way to be green is to buy their product and unfortunately their services are at a premium. Show more...
During the last several months, we at Envirotrol have focused on increasing our awareness of the business of Going Green which has included some of us working to get our LEED Certification as LEED Professionals but more importantly, we have begun to look at our proposals and existing customers with a heavy eye toward energy conservation. With a little increased focus on energy, we are finding new ways to accomplish service and job requirements while decreasing our customer’s energy costs and putting operation dollars back into their budget. We are also mindful that every little bit helps in an overall energy savings strategy and on a larger scale, introducing small policies in a facility can begin to pay off in a big way. .. not only as a result of energy savings for that policy, but in making your employees more aware of steps that they can take at work and home to go green.
The main message here is to not get too overwhelmed in all of the things that you can do to save energy dollars such that you can’t initiate small measures to begin to save today.
Here are some examples of steps that you can implement at your facility and at your home to begin the process. An important part of the process is to promote your company’s commitment to energy and resource conservation. It’s like planting a seed and finding that there is a little green that comes naturally to all of us.
Going Green - Energy Conservation Tips for the Office
Every day, companies spend thousands of dollars on energy costs to run their business. Energy savings usually puts money back into the operations budget and can be used to reinvest in additional energy saving strategies to a point where facility operations is putting money on the company’s bottom line. In addition to reducing your facilities energy usage, that is a career boosting strategy in just about anybody’s book.
Put your monitor to sleep. Whether it shows off your family photos or a cool 3D animation, a computer screen saver is not at all designed for energy efficiency. It's intended to save your screen from "burn in," not to save energy. Because monitors are responsible for more than one-third of a computer's energy consumption -- even with screen savers -- the best way to conserve energy is to set the monitor to sleep or power off when you're away for an extended period.
Unplug your cell phone charger when not in use. Cell phone chargers use 95% of their energy when they aren't charging cell phones.
Almost all of the electrical devices in your office use energy, even when they're turned off. It's a good idea, and it's easy to turn off the power strip they're plugged into just to make sure you've reduced the amount of energy being wasted. Putting this into practice every day before you leave the office can save $100-$300 per year.
Turn off the lights. We can discuss changing your lights out for more efficient lighting later. For now, remind your employees to turn off the lights in their office when they leave for more than five or ten minutes. The energy savings from 10 million employees turning off unneeded lights for 30 minutes a day is enough to illuminate 50 million square feet of office space.
Flickering fluorescent lights use more energy. Make sure that your employees know that if they see one, to make sure that they report it to facilities right away.
Print smarter. The average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year. Make it a habit to print on both sides, and use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts. A document that is double-spaced and copied on one side uses four times as much paper as one that is single-spaced and duplexed. When purchasing a copier or printer, make sure it can duplex. Reduce your document margins. Microsoft Word's default margins are set to 1.25". If the United States set their default printing to .75" we would save 4.75% less paper, which equates to over 380,000 tons of office paper, and the equates to over $400 million saved each year! Penn State recently made the change, and researchers there found that they saved over 72 acres of forest and $120,000 each year.
Go paperless when possible. Make it a habit to think before you print: could this be read or stored online instead?
Go back to the Tap. There is an effort underway to get people to consider using tap water instead of bottled water for their daily consumption. The Natural Resources Defense Council which carried out a four-year review of the bottled water industry concluded “there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle, it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap.” Our suggestion: have your water tested and add filters to drinking water stations if required and have your employees bring their bottles for fill up for the day. This will reduce bottled or water cooler costs and the energy costs of water coolers. But be sure to maintain the filtration filters as bacteria can accumulate if you do not follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. You may in fact be providing a higher quality of water than that from the bottled water manufacturer which is an added bonus. Make sure you publicize your water test to get your employees to understand the benefit.
Encourage the purchase of Energy Star rated office equipment. Energy Star rated units save 10-50% off the energy consumption of standard models.
Report air leaks. Encourage your employees to report unconditioned air leaks. Leaks are attributed to 10-50% of a building’s heating and air conditioning costs. This is an extreme cost and can reduce the overhead of your building significantly. Also, I spent last Saturday working on tightening up leaks around my house that I never realized were there until I made a point to look for them.
Close the blinds during the summer to reduce the heat load from the sun, and open them in the winter to gain natural heating when it's needed.
Get off mailing lists. The last thing you need is another office supply catalog or credit card offer on your desk. Before tossing out junk mail, call the company's toll-free service number and ask that your name be removed from the mailing list. Have online retailers e-mail you instead. Almost half of all catalogs are never opened, yet nearly 62 million trees are destroyed and 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce them every year.
Promote an energy audit. Pull together energy usage and bills. Separate process from support and focus first on the support then on the process. The big dollars are usually on the process but if you are new to an audit, it may be smarter and an easier sell on the support side first. Get your management’s confidence then go for the gold.
Promote a waste audit. 60% of the waste produced by a typical office can be recycled. Find out what you should be recycling in your office.
Finally, promote and publicize your programs. As a facility engineer or owner, promote the benefits of your energy initiatives to your employees and provide some incentives for following them. The incentive may be nothing more than getting your employees involved in green initiatives, maybe more, but the bottom line is to encourage enthusiasm and get your crew excited about going green. We can help; if you want to start an initiative give us a call. We can lend a hand with some research and proposals to increase your energy savings while helping reduce energy usage.
Envirotrol's 20-Second Commercial
We recently took our sales team, including our service manager to a sales and service seminar. One of the focuses of the speaker’s presentation was how to deliver a company’s message to a customer. He suggested that we prepare a 20 second commercial that properly describes the value that we bring to our customers’ sites. This statement would be delivered in casual conversation as a response to “what do you do?” As we have pondered this statement, it has made us focus a bit on the deliverable to our customers and our own company focus.
If you read your company’s official company statement, they are usually full of lofty words such as “meeting or exceeding our customer’s expectations” or “provide a working environment where ingenuity thrives” or other tag lines that are written in the best spirit but don’t conform to rapidly changing business environments, or in the case of our industry, changing technology to which we must conform to enable us to provide up to the minute and viable systems to our customers.
During the process of verbalizing what it is that we do, we came up with some pretty hilarious solutions. The best one was that we sell and install very expensive thermostats. There was a measure of truth in each of the developed responses but we whittled it down to this:
We provide services to support and improve facilities mechanical operations either through the collection and delivery of information through an open systems facility automation systems, through startup, repair and regular preventative maintenance services, or through our certified testing, balancing and commissioning services.
Is that it? Isn’t there more? What about our 24 hour 365/year on call services for mechanical and/or facility control repair? We decided that falls under service, what about...etc.
In the final analysis, while it’s hard to pin down a company that is dedicated to providing the latest technology to its customers, the central values that a company provides to its customers stays the same. And that is to provide maximum value at a competitive price that returns our customers the most effective and energy efficient facility available to them.
That’s what we do.
Green Buildings and Corporate Maturity
The decision to build "Green" is a long term investment and demonstrates corporate maturity that one can expect to result in better products, services and your environment. Green Building provides direct results through energy savings, reduced maintenance and improved air quality. Long term regional and global outcomes include stormwater retention, waste management/materials recycled and reused, as well as forest protection and stemming climate change. Show more...
To be considered Green, the Architects and Engineers must conform to certain standards. One leader in this is the US Green Building Council. The USGBC has provided a list of items through a program called LEEDS which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This program is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance Green Buildings.
Some of the criteria for LEED accreditation are the use of alternative or renewable energy sources, the use of energy efficient building designs, site soil erosion, Sedimentation Control, water and energy use, and air quality. The key part that Envirotrol plays in this is Indoor Environmental Quality and energy usage.
We are excited to play a significant role in the development of Green Buildings and we anticipate that our earnest commitment to reduction of energy usage and innovative building design shows a corporate maturity on our part - a level that extends to all facets of our organization from corporate citizenship to being a good community steward.
If you are interested, take the time to look through our website at the services that we provide which directly lends itself toward energy reduction and also our involvement as a member of the USGBC. Remember, whether you are going for accreditation or not, steps that we take toward environmentally sound facility operation results in both monetary payback and in protecting the environment. Some of these steps are surprisingly easy to implement and also sends a message to your customers - one of Corporate Maturity.
The Changing Face of Facility Automation
As a "Control Contractor" I love the question that we get asked about whose controls we use. I have a standard answer but I have lately rethought my response because it is too easy and I am unsure how well it gets our point across. To understand the question, you have to understand the history behind it. You have to think back about how several large companies molded our industry into what we are today by carefully crafting the HVAC controls market and protecting it tooth and nail.
There have been countless marketing dollars spent associating Facility Management Control Systems (FACS) with proprietary HVAC controls manufacturers. MCC Powers, Robershaw, Honeywell, Barber Colman, are all familiar names to those of us brought up in the Division 15 world. Some like Johnson Controls and Honeywell have survived intact but have adapted into other industries, Johnson Controls now makes Batteries, Automotive Interiors and now with the acquisition of York International, Chillers and HVAC equipment. Honeywell, well what does Honeywell not do? Other proprietary control manufacturers have been gobbled up by mega companies merging control lines and consolidating customer lists counting on mandatory upgrades in proprietary hardware and software for high margin $$. What this all adds up to is a recognition of the changing face of Facility Automation.
To further confuse matters, most of the time the FACS specification resides in division 15, the mechanical specification, where many engineers are reluctant to change the exclusively HVAC control specification that they have used for years (I especially like the ones that still specify a 486 or higher processor in the computer workstation and in today's world, specifying a proprietary control "name" is about as bad). One of the open protocol standards was even developed by ASHRAE, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. So where, on jobs that can be as little as 40% integration into HVAC, does that leave the rest of the Facility Automation System? Who coordinates the electrical switch gear, the generator fuel delivery system, irrigation control for landscaping, process integration and other non-HVAC related systems? Well, when we used to sell proprietary HVAC control systems for some of the big players listed above, we didn't want to talk about these other systems too much, but now that almost every piece of facility equipment comes with some sort of "smart" device which is being marketed by clever equipment manufacturers, the easy days of answering the question about what kind of controls do we sell gets to be a bit more complex but fun none the less.
So back to the answer. The answer is we don't sell controls, we sell an open integration platform and integrate facility equipment directly into it. You could say we use Cutler Hammer, Caterpillar, Trane, Square D, Lutron, Pyrotronics, Edwards Fire and Lifesafety, Carrier, York, and the shopping list of other, equipment manufacturer provided open control systems. That's the reality of Smart Buildings. Now if we could just figure out how to make division 15 that smart.
Jeff Farlow is President of Envirotrol LLC
and has been in the Facility Management and Control business for over 20 years.
Mr. Farlow is also Executive Director of 7x24 Exchange- The Carolinas Chapter
, a non-profit educational forum for those who design, build, use and maintain mission-critical enterprise information infrastructures.