Brady Blog- Trends and Talk

How Do You Know If Your Security System Is Doing A Good Job?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Take a quick review at your security plan for your business. Are you comfortable that your system will protect your business assets from an outside or inside threat? Does your system meet your current business needs? These are questions to consider when evaluating your current security system.

Let’s first take a look at your access control system:

  • Does your current system fit the needs of your current organization?
  • How difficult is it to add or suspend a user?
  • Do you have the resources in house to manage the day-to-day tasks required for your system?
  • Are you dealing with one facility or multiple facilities? Do you manage access to all facilities from one system?

Next take a look at your video surveillance system:

  • Do your cameras provide the appropriate resolution to provide you with the information you need to protect your assets?
  • Are cameras installed in all needed locations? Has your facility use changed since the system was installed? If so your video surveillance system may not be monitoring the areas you need.
  • Is your video surveillance integrated to work with your access control system?
  • How do you manage software updates to ensure that your system will always work as expected?

Do you have a fire & life safety system?

  • Is your system up to-date for current code requirements?
  • Is it integrated into your overall security plan?
  • Do you have a plan in place to test and inspect your systems on a regular basis?
  • What is your preventative maintenance plan?

What is your intrusion detection plan?

  • What is your prevention plan? Where is your company at risk for threats? How many doors, windows and locks do you have for each of your buildings?
  • Do you have a defined detection and response plan? How are you notified when there is a breach? Do you have a tiered response plan for each type of breach?

All of these items work together to provide a facility security plan. A planned review can help you ensure that your system is designed to meet current needs and help you protect your occupants and assets.

Using Ice To Reduce Energy And Save Money

Friday, October 02, 2015

Air conditioning of commercial buildings during summer daytime hours is the largest single contributor to electrical peak demand. As more air conditioning is needed to maintain comfortable temperatures, the increased demand for electricity adds to the load already created by many other sources. This requires the electric suppliers to bring additional, more costly generating equipment on line to handle this increased demand. Commercial uses are charged more for this “On Peak” energy, either in the form of higher energy charge (kWh) or “Demand Charge” which is based on their highest on-peak demand (kW) for electricity. An effective way to combat these “On Peak” energy charges is to utilize, “Off Peak Cooling” (OPC).

The electric supplier’s generating capacity is typically under-utilized at night, and consequently, its rates are lowest then. A Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system takes advantage of low cost, off peak electricity, produced more efficiently throughout the night, to create and store cooling energy for use when rates are higher, typically during the day.

Ice Storage systems utilize a packaged chiller to produce ice during the night and store it in modular tanks. This stored ice provides cooling the following day to meet the building’s air conditioning load requirement. These systems not only dramatically reduce the use of peak period, high-cost energy, but they can also reduce total energy usage by 10%.

An Ice Storage system reduces the size of the building’s air conditioning equipment which can include chillers, cooling towers, pumps, and electrical service. For instance, with an Ice Storage system, a 100 ton chiller is able to do the job of a 200 ton chiller in a conventional system, which can add up to significant savings. The building occupants don’t notice any temperature difference, while building owner saves both money and energy.

So what type of building can benefit most from Thermal Energy Storage? Offices, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels are just a few examples. When these buildings incorporate the system during the design stage, thermal energy storage has initial costs comparable to traditional HVAC systems. Many installations achieve a net initial cost savings when compared to other choices. If Ice Storage is incorporated during an expansion or retrofit, the upfront costs for the tanks are rapidly offset by the savings in purchasing energy at the lowest possible rates. Most organizations see full payback in two to five years.

Giving “ice a try” can not only benefit the building owner, but also the energy providers, and the environment. Building Owners will see reduced energy and maintenance costs while seeing an increase in property value. Energy Providers will reduce peak electrical demands allowing them to produce more electricity at increased efficiencies while saving precious natural resources. Reduced fuel usage means less polluting emissions are released into the atmosphere, which is also a great benefit for our planet.

Ice storage is being used throughout the United States in large buildings such as libraries, universities, and office buildings. The Google office in New York City has recently transitioned to Thermal Energy Storage, as well as the Rockefeller Center. Here in North Carolina, Brady has installed Thermal Energy Storage systems in several buildings in Greensboro, including the J. Douglas Galyon Depot, Centenary United Methodist Church, Lawndale Baptist Church, and the Green Valley Office Park Business Center. Brady also installed systems in Johnston County Schools in Johnston County, North Carolina. Currently, thermal energy storage is used in the cooling systems of over 4,000 commercial buildings in more than 35 countries. 

Using Incentive Programs To Pay for Building Upgrades

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Did you know that your business could get paid to save energy? Energy Service providers often offer incentive programs to encourage businesses to save energy. Businesses can receive money for installing high efficiency lighting, HVAC, and other qualifying equipment. Some energy efficient measures can cover up to 20% of your energy usage. Depending on the incentives used, you could potentially cover up to 75% of the project cost.

Why should businesses pursue an energy rebate? Let’s start with the obvious-the financial benefit. By utilizing rebates, you are offsetting the cost of new, more efficient equipment in your facility.

Your business would also be helping the environment. By installing high efficiency equipment your facility will use less natural resources, which will help the energy providers defer construction of additional facilities to meet demand, which can ultimately lead to lower energy rates.

Most providers offer incentives for both new construction and the retrofit of existing buildings. Typically these incentives are grouped into several categories. One group of incentives typically seen are Prescriptive. These are specific, predefined incentives are based on a fixed cost for installing an energy efficient solution. These incentives can include rebates for lighting, HVAC equipment, thermal storage, Variable Frequency Drives, pumps, food service, and information technology installations.

The next group is typically some kind of custom incentive offering. These are solutions not in the prescriptive list.

The final option is usually some form of Technical Assistance. These types of incentives will help pay for design assistance or energy or feasibility studies.

Next Steps: Most providers have a commercial version of their incentive program geared toward industrial and commercial businesses. Your first step may be to seek out a trade ally to walk you through the process and guide you through your project.

Most providers partner with, and educate, the companies that sell and install the energy efficient products covered in their incentive programs. They invest in these businesses so that they better understand details of each incentive, rules, and processes. This is ultimately to better serve you, their customer.

If you’re in North Carolina, you can visit Duke Energy and Progress Energy to explore the incentives available in your area. You can also learn more about eligibility, how to participate, find local trade allies and more information about the application process.

Funding Facility Improvements With Future Energy Savings

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The United States is the home to millions of commercial and industrial businesses. Each year one of the largest operating expenses for these businesses is their energy spend. It is estimated that nearly 30% of the energy spend is used inefficiently or unnecessarily. 1

So what options do businesses have to address their energy waste and improve their facilities? How would an owner evaluate all of the choices for facility improvements and select the projects that would be the best fit for their needs? How do they improve their facilities if improvements are not in the annual capital budget?

One option is to consider a Performance Contract. A Performance Contract allows a building owner to use future energy and operational savings to finance infrastructure improvement projects.

New, energy saving equipment for free sounds too good to be true, right? Let’s explore it a little further.

A Performance Contract is a performance-based procurement and financing method in which an Energy Service Company (ESCO) takes on project performance risks and provides a single source turnkey solution to address the customer’s energy and facility improvement needs.

This contracting method is a good fit for facilities with aging infrastructures and little money for capital improvements. Performance Contracting has been successfully used to upgrade schools facilities, college campuses, and government buildings in North Carolina and across the United States.

The scope of a Performance Contract will vary by owner and facility needs. The projects can include lighting upgrades, upgrades to the HVAC and control systems, and other building envelope improvements.

The selected ESCO will assist with a wide range of needs, including the energy audit, design engineering, arranging project financing, construction management, commissioning, operations and maintenance of new technologies, and verification of energy savings.

The National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO) is a trade association that sponsors an accreditation program for ESCOs. Each company must undergo a strict review process by an independent selection committee before becoming an accredited organization. Accredited organizations include DMJM Harris, BCS, Honeywell International, TAC / Tour Andover Controls Energy Solutions, Trane, and Water & Energy Savings Corporation.

Projects in North Carolina include the North Carolina Museum of Art, Wayne County Public Schools, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. These projects alone have a guaranteed annual savings of almost 2 million dollars.

Interested in pursuing a Performance Contact? Here are the steps you would take to start a project.

Sources:(1)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR program. "Useful Facts and Figures." No date referenced. 1 June 2007

Steps in the Performance Contracting Process

Friday, August 14, 2015

Are you considering a Performance Contract? Want to learn more about the steps involved? Let's review the steps of this process. 

Step 1 Determine Need: The first step is to perform a preliminary audit of the buildings to benchmark and screen for savings and needs opportunities. Are the utility costs more than $1.50/sq. ft? Is the energy bill more than $500,000 per year? If so, it may be time to take a deeper look at the facilities.

Step 2 Assemble Team: Pull together a diverse project team including associates with technical expertise, facility operations and maintenance staff, associates with procurement, budget, and legal experience.

Step 3 Define Project: The next step is to define the project and prepare a preliminary scope of work. Typical needed items include a facility profile including an occupancy and building schedule, building envelope specifications, and a preliminary proposed scope of work. The scope of work could include lighting, HVAC and water conservation projects, operations and maintenance considerations, proposed measurement of energy and load shedding, and the requirements for new technology implementation and financial considerations.

Step 4 Prequalification: North Carolina State Energy Office has developed a list of prequalified ESCOs that are authorized to develop and deliver Guaranteed Performance Contracts to governmental units in North Carolina. Each ESCO has successfully completed a process that certifies their qualifications for these types of projects.

Step 5 Request for Proposal (RFP): At this stage in the Performance Contracting Process, the project team will work together to prepare the Request for Proposal (RFP). This process includes the formal communications of intent, actual preparation of the official RFP, issuing the request for proposal publicly, a facility site visit, and sharing of information and selection criteria with ESCOs.

Step 6 Proposal Evaluation: The project team will need to evaluate each ESCO proposal based on the evaluation criteria established prior to starting the proposal process. A thorough review of the ESCO’s expertise and support capabilities should be completed during this step of the process.

After a review of the proposals, the project team should conduct reference interviews to support claims made by each ESCO. Once completed, the short-listed ESCOs should each perform an oral presentation to the project team. An informal Q&A session typically follows to clarify any outstanding questions.

Once these steps are completed the highest ranked ESCO will be selected based on the overall evaluation scoring, presentations, and question and answer session. The selected ESCO then prepares preliminary costs and savings and proceeds with an Investment Grade Audit (IGA) scope, cost, and timeline negotiations.

Step 7: Selection of the ESCO Technical Audit and Project Development: After the ESCO is selected it is time to proceed with the Investment Grade Audit (IGA). The IGA report leads to the Energy Services Agreement (ESA), which is the final scope of work that includes engineering, equipment costs, installation, commissioning, warranty, and potentially annual maintenance. The IGA report also includes the financial basis for justifying the economics of the Performance Contract. It will serve as the basis for energy cost savings for the Performance Contract and the guaranteed results. This phase typically ranges anywhere from six weeks to three months.

Step 8: Negotiations: During this stage, the owner and ESCO risks and responsibilities are defined and detailed in the ESA contract language. The contract will often be reviewed by legal counsel, a third-party engineer, and others as appropriate per governmental unit requirements.

Step 9: Measurement and Verification Stage: Measurement and Verification Services (M&V) continue on after the project’s construction work is complete. Energy savings are measured and verified by the ESCO and often times by an independent third party. The M&V stage ensures that the energy saving conservation measures (ECMs) are preforming per the guarantee and the M&V plan as described in the ESA. If the guaranteed energy savings are below the guaranteed amount any year during the contract term, the ESCO is responsible for reimbursement of the savings shortfall on an annual basis. This is one of the benefits of a Performance Contract.