Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Energy Utilization Index for Industrial Facilities

I had recent contact from an engineer who evaluates industrial facility energy usage.  I personally have no experience in industrial facility evaluation, but did some quick research.  The U.S. Department of Energy has some information, but I encourage those who have an interest to contact me so I can put you all in touch with each other to share what you're learning.  Here's what little the DOE has on the topic.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kindred spirits and business the way I like it!

I have to say that this has been an amazing week of uniting with kindred spirits!  A home builder's superintendent working on my mother-in-law's house is just as much a stickler for detail as me, and welcomed the help on finding items for his punchlist (I swear I thought I was the last dinosaur that encouraged clients to tear me apart so I could learn from what they need and want).  I met up with a female client and friend from the construction industry last night to have a cold beer and celebrate her accomplishment in a raise and my accomplishment in a satisfied client training and support program (phase 1 finished this week).   I finally met face to face with one of the best electrical trouble-shooters I've ever met, and he is so passionate and happy doing what he loves that it just makes me smile when we work together.

There are good and bad days in business, and the home builder's superintendent had a very bad week due to a few bad decisions by sub-contractors who weren't paying close attention with their work and consequently, damaged materials.  The delay of a home-closing due to this type of damage is so frustrating for the home owner, but for the project manager/superintendent... this is the stuff of ulcers and insomnia.  When discussing the issues and possibilities of additional delays, this gentleman promised that if the closing didn't occur this time per schedule he would personally pay for my mother-in-law's move.  He's made good on every promise to date, and I am 100% certain that he will deliver on this promise if necessary.  I truly believe that when people such as this fellow do business the way he does business, it all comes back around for the overall good.  I hope his bosses agree, but I will always be a supporter of an individual who takes responsibility and does everything in their power to make things right.  There are still many people out there who do business with the philosophy that you should treat people the way you'd like to be treated.  I'm proud to know some of them and hope to continue meeting more along the way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Energy Utilization Index (EUI) for Buildings in the Southwest United States

For those of you that are questioning where this topic came from, you should know that my second passion is energy analysis and audits of commercial buildings.  My experience in establishing baselines for commercial building Energy Utilization Indices quickly revealed that there is a lack of shared information on this topic.  If you are working on a school or a building type that is listed in the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, you have a good shot at comparing numbers with other buildings.  If your building does not fall into this limited category of buildings, you've got nothing unless you are well-networked with facility operators who actually track this.  I have to give a big shout-out to the folks over at University of Nevada in Las Vegas who have been tracking this for multiple buildings on campus for years.  They KNOW how their buildings are operating!  Unfortunately, many of their buildings fall into the educational building category or assembly-hall type building.

If you are managing a casino, community center, non-typical office building, detention center or hotel with convention and/or gambling areas, you have very little information to compare your building with.  If you are interested in establishing your Energy Utilization Index and knowing what others are finding, please email me at czanzig@nyneconsulting.com.  My goal is to put together a database of shared information regarding the energy utilization in our buildings in Southern Nevada.  Another useful figure would be water use.

All you need to establish your energy utilization index is your energy usage (check the power and gas bills, watch out if you have numerous meters on site) and the square footage of the building.  It is always helpful to note parking and outdoor square footage that is served off the meters.  Convert your electrical and gas to KBTUh, add both for an entire year, and divide by the square footage of the building and/or site.  This gives you the baseline for comparison that will help you track how your building is operating compared with others.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's almost ASHRAE time!

So, our ASHRAE Winter Meeting is being held in Las Vegas, NV this year.  Starting Saturday, my hometown of Las Vegas will begin to see the influx of ASHRAE participants.  I can say that many golf enthusiasts are thrilled with the venue - gotta love 64 deg. F!  Good luck to you golfers, and anyone up for a round of tennis should give me a shout (I'll stay out of the golfing this year).

On a more serious note, my humble opinion is that this is an amazing time to be part of the HVAC industry.  Whether you're a supporter of the "Green Building Movement" or not, we've seen advances in equipment in the last five years that have surpassed some of the advances our industry has accomplished over the last 20 years combined (no offense to digital controls, spiral duct and pressure independent systems).  I have to imagine that Dr. Carrier himself would be pretty excited.  Simple advances in compressor technology have me jumping around like a kid waiting for the ice cream truck.  ASHRAE is my chance every year to walk the show and nose around what all the manufacturers are up to.  By the end of the first day at the show, I've got ideas for systems and innovations swirling in my head.  At the end of the second day, I'm still enthralled, but my feet and lower back are really just screaming for some ibuprofen and very soft footwear.  Forget a third day... I've never made it to a third round at the show.  For those of you strong enough to endure, kudos to you.  They should give a medal for that.

So, if you stop by the show and stumble across a brunette chic in heals dismantling some poor manufacturer's display, you probably caught me in action.  Do me a favor and at least introduce yourself.  If I get lucky, I'll actually get the display back into its original condition.  I still owe the folks at Neptronics for accidentally destroying their display humidifier at the show many years ago (still haunts me to this day, but they were gracious). 

If nothing else, walk the show and learn something!    Safe travels to everyone.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Building Trust

I don't know about the entire industry, but within my circle of clients, coworkers and friends there has been a lot of discussion about building trust.  It seems that the stress of the economic changes has made it difficult to know what to trust these days.  Those companies who you thought would always be there suddenly vanished along with years of relationships and hard-won trust.  The coworkers you knew had your back were laid off or left for different opportunities.  The world of cloud computing has made it difficult for companies to maintain transparency without exposing every number and action to scrutiny.  What is one to do in this environment?

Call me jaded, but I've always been one to trust only in what is within my ability to control.  I hope for the best, but am typically prepared for the worst.  When bad things happen, or a trust is broken, I don't react as a victim.  I move on while evaluating the relationship or scenario that lead to the final outcome.  What door is opening now that one closed?  Some call that idealistic, but the fact is - it works for me (and quite a few in my close circle).

But, what do you do as an employer when you know that your employees do not trust and you can see that it is eroding away at your business?  That is a tough one to call.  Some would say, put on a good face and weather the storm.  I disagree with this approach because I believe people are more in-tune than ever with the ups and downs of business.  In sales, for instance, the leaders of the team often set the tone in a very strong way.  As an owner of a rep. firm, do you expose your numbers and set the bottom line for performance so you are taking away what you need?  I think so.  The catch is that if your numbers are not truly transparent, you will not build trust, you will destroy it.  Sales teams are uniquely qualified to break down numbers at an alarming rate, and numbers that don't add up will leave you looking like someone who cannot be trusted. 

Trust with clients?  Wow, that is a hard one to cover.  Everyone has their own method, but the one that has consistently worked for me is honesty.  Part of why I needed to start my own business was because if I heard "You're too honest for your own good," in another yearly review I thought I might strangle someone.  The truth was, I was too honest for the company's lawyers, and they were afraid that if my negotiating techniques did not work then we'd get the shirts sued off our backs.  It's a legitimate concern, but in the end the problem was always worked out in a way that was acceptable to the client and our company.  To be fair and clear, I was not so cavalier as to put any admission of guilt into email, but that's part of knowing the balance of when to document and when to make sure the clients' needs are met.  The bonus was that each situation gave me a chance to build more trust with clients, and they appreciated always knowing the truth while we worked through challenges.

Finally, taking personal responsibility is a sure-fire way to earn trust.  My friends at Brains on Fire posted a blog this morning that hit on this with a very clear example (and one that drives me crazy).  Check it out if you're interested... I couldn't have written it better myself.  www.brainsonfire.com/blog/
(Look for the 1/5/2011 post.  My apologies, the Jan. 5th posting on the site was removed as of Jan. 6th).

So maybe, more than focusing on building trust we need to focus on who we are in business.  Are we transparent?  Are we taking responsibility for our actions?  Are we treating others the way we want to be treated?