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BUILDING INTEGRATION

Posts Tagged ‘Temperature Controls’

Will 2018 be the year artificial intelligence makes a big impact on your business?

As 2017 winds down, trend watchers are looking ahead to 2018 and thinking about the trends taking shape. Artificial Intelligence is top of mind for many.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what is the difference between AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning? According to techopedia, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.” AI computers might be used for speech recognition, learning, planning and problem solving.

Machine Learning takes AI a step further, allowing computers to be challenged by and learn from new scenarios for testing and adaptation. The goal is for the machines to use pattern recognition and trend detection to “learn” so that it can make independent decisions about similar situations in the future.

Deep Learning collects what Machine Learning computers have learned and uses those algorithms to develop larger networks that mimic the high-powered decision-making capability of the human brain.

AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning all have significant potential for real-world application, particularly in video security.

The boom in digital video means a voluminous amount of data is available to analyze. Couple that data with more data available via API – weather data, financial data, etc. – and the possibilities for pulling together patterns and making predictions is nearly endless.

“While the technologies aren’t particularly new, this year they have more than ever captured the attention of the market due to various factors: an increase in data that’s available for meaningful analysis, the emergence of hardware devices with high computing power, as well as the maturity of networking infrastructure for both landline and wireless transmissions,” wrote William Pao of a&s International in a recent post on asmag.com.

Some are predicting a boom in AI-driven analysis. “The next step in video analytics is to dive deeper to gain very specific insights into video content, including analyzing human behavior through the use of neural network video analysis. Video will not only be used to track the usual movement of cars and people or detect items left behind, but will also be relied on more frequently to bring behaviors of interest to the attention of security personnel,” said Jammy DeSousa, Senior Product Manager for Security Products for Building Technologies and Solutions at Johnson Controls in the post.

Others are slightly more conservative in their outlook. “Machine or deep-learning is mostly used for video analytics, but I expect the technology will be an important component in many different applications and products in the future. Over time it will become a common tool for software engineers and will be included in many different environments and devices,” said Johan Paulsson, CTO of Axis Communications in the post. “However, the surveillance industry has a history of sometimes over-promising with video analytics, and we are especially conscious of that when it comes to deep learning. We think deep learning has to mature further before it is ready for market in a broader perspective.”

Interested in learning more about new products and integrations on the horizon for 2018? Contact us at (502) 632-4322.

10 energy-saving tips for dark, cold months

The recent arrival of cooler temps dovetailed with the end of Daylight Savings Time, making it feel like the world suddenly went dark and cold and the same time. Is your business or organization still making the adjustment?

These tips will help you maximize energy efficiency during the winter months:

Contact your energy provider and ask if they will help you conduct an energy audit. Many providers provide free audits to customers.

Review your energy usage from last winter season and set targets. How much energy did you use? What was the average daily temp and other conditions? Setting a goal for reducing use might help you keep costs in check.

Check insulation. Make sure it is adequate to meet your needs. Check seals on all duct work to make sure it is sound and air isn’t leaking.

Schedule regular maintenance for your HVAC system to keep it running at peak efficiency. Be sure to change or clean filters, too. Dirty filters make systems worker harder and less efficiently.

Check all vents and returns to make sure they are clear of obstructions. Arrange furniture so air flow is maximized, and keep paper and other debris clear.
Look for leaky doors and windows and seal them. Use caulk and/or weather stripping to seal up energy-sucking gaps throughout your facility. Gaps around plumbing access, electrical outlets and lighting fixtures are often leaky, too. Seal them up and you’ll better maintain temps in your facility.

Use programmable thermostats to maintain temps. Set temps no higher than 67 degrees when your facility is occupied, and drop temps several degrees overnight or when facilities are not in use. You’ll realize substantial savings by dropping your thermostat just two degrees.

Limit the use of space heaters. Not only do they present a fire hazard, they use significant energy and make it difficult to regulate temperatures. Encourage layering clothes or wearing sweaters for personal comfort.

Maximize use of natural light. Open blinds and curtains to allow sunshine in during the day, and close them at night to retain heat.

Monitor lighting use. Use sensors or timers to turn lights on and off automatically. Switch to LED lighting wherever possible. Use smart power strips and sleep settings to operate office equipment efficiently.

Need help monitoring and integrating your HVAC and other key building systems? We can help. Call (502) 632-4322 to learn more.

Summer time is prime time for school maintenance

Summer break is just weeks away, and teachers and students are both looking forward to an extended break.

Not so for building maintenance personnel. Summer is the time to catch up on cleaning and maintenance projects that had to be put off during the school year. Their hard work will pay off; studies indicate that well-maintained facilities have a positive impact on student achievement.

On the agenda for many schools:

Floor maintenance. Floors take a beating during the school year, and now is the time to clean and protect them in preparation for next year. Furniture can be moved out of the way and products can be applied with proper drying time.

Window maintenance. Windows do more than let the sunshine in. They also aid in scientific exploration, showcase art, and serve as the starting line for day dreams. All of those activities lead to everything from smudges to cracks and defects. Windows can be thoroughly cleaned and replaced during summer months.

Deep cleaning surfaces. Tabletops, counters and bathroom surfaces get wiped down during the year, but summer is the time to do the job more thoroughly.

But summer is also a good time to address larger system needs, too. School maintenance personnel should take the opportunity to inspect, clean and review:

HVAC systems. Filters and ducts should be inspected, updated and cleaned. Systems should be evaluated to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.

Fire safety and emergency alert systems. Equipment and systems should be inspected and tested.

Security systems. Worn or outdated equipment should be replaced. Camera placement should be evaluated and adjusted, if necessary.

School staff should also take the opportunity to revisit emergency plans, too, particularly if the facility is has made significant changes, such as room reconfigurations, additions or other building projects. Summer is also a good time to investigate adding new systems and processes.

Well-maintained systems are key to building maintenance, and important for the development, health and safety of students and staff.

We’re always happy to discuss how our solutions can help. Connect with us at the Kentucky School Plant Management Association conference and workshops Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington or call us at (502) 632-4322 to discuss your needs.

Could facility improvements help improve student performance?

Maintaining school facilities is a challenge in nearly every school district. Most districts don’t have the funds to adequately resource regular capital improvements, and maintenance is sometimes deferred and systems and equipment are repaired long after they should have been replaced.


It’s no different for Jefferson County Public Schools, which has 155 school buildings, shifting population and a $1.3 billion list of maintenance and new construction projects.
Addressing the maintenance and construction issues is a complex challenge, but the payoffs are considerable, including improved energy efficiency and better utilization of resources, among other things.
But the most important payback of all might be improved student performance. How?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, schools without a major maintenance backlog have a higher average daily attendance of 4 to 5 students per 1,000 and a lower annual dropout rate by 10 to 13 students per 1,000 compared to schools with backlogs.
Check out these other benefits and impacts the EPA cites:

  • Studies that measure school conditions consistently show improved scores on standardized tests as school conditions improve.
  • Controlled studies show that children perform school work with greater speed as air ventilation rates increase, and performance of teachers and staff also improves.
  • Higher ventilation rates have been shown to reduce the transmission of infectious agents in the building, which leads to a drop in sickness and absenteeism.
  • Moderate changes in room temperature affect children’s abilities to perform mental tasks requiring concentration, such as addition, multiplication and sentence comprehension. Poor temperature and humidity regulation can lead to problems with focus.

Well-maintained systems are key to building maintenance, and important for the development, health and safety of students and staff.
We’re always happy to discuss how our solutions can help. Connect with us at the Kentucky School Plant Management Association conference and workshops Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington or call us at (502) 632-4322 to discuss your needs.

School plant operators energize schools

School plant operators already have a tall order. They must keep school buildings clean and in good working order, often with limited resources in aging facilities, all while surrounded by hundreds of busy little mess-makers.

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But the job doesn’t stop there for many plant operators. They take their role a step further, supporting students and teachers with joy and enthusiasm that brings a warmth and light to a school that the systems they monitor can’t even begin to generate.
Jefferson County Public Schools highlighted one such plant operator recently in a video on their Facebook page. Mickey Bridwell, plant operator at Blue Lick Elementary School in Louisville, Ky., greets children in the car rider line each day and leads them in a special chant. He sits with students at lunch, ties shoes, cheers up children who are having a tough day, and does whatever he can to help “make teachers’ jobs easier.” Best of all, he does it all with a warm, grandfatherly smile on his face.
Bridwell recognizes that he is a role model for students, and embraces that role with enthusiasm.
What can administrators and communities do to appreciate and encourage plant operators, custodians and other school support staff personnel? Here are a few ideas:
Include them in decision-making. Plant operators and custodians should have a place at the table when key decisions are being made, from supply changes to process changes to system changes. Their front-line experiences yield valuable insights, especially in the highly variable context of school buildings. Including plant operators and custodians in decisions will ensure successful implementation later.
Honor their contributions. Set aside time on the school calendar to honor plant operators and custodians. October 2 is National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day, so that might be a good start. Appreciation also might take the form of features on excellent plant operators or custodial staff in school or district-wide newsletters, or even video profiles like the one produced by JCPS. Don’t underestimate the power of “surprise and delight” opportunities, too, such as bringing in a hot breakfast for plant operators and custodians who must show up early to de-ice sidewalks on cold days.
Support networking and learning opportunities. Connect plant operators and custodians to organizations and opportunities that help them grow, such as the Kentucky School Plant Management Association. The KPSMA offers a conference and workshops every year. ECT Services will be participating in the KPSMA conference this year, which will take place Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington.

Include professional conferences in your plans for 2017

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Day to day operations are demanding. Resources are stretched thin. Budgets are shrinking. Lots of news and learning resources—blogs, podcasts, communities — are available for free online.
Why attend a professional conference? Three reasons:
Focus. Stepping out of your day to day job offers you a physical and mental break from your routine. It affords you the opportunity to take a step back and consider your work at a higher level. Use this new perspective to consider long term goals, evaluate the current state, and plan next steps.
Network. Good conferences attract a variety of professionals from across your industry. You’ll meet others in similar and complementary roles, as well as consultants and vendors. All offer different perspectives and experiences that might help you solve a problem that’s been dogging you for months.
Discover. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t necessarily Google what you don’t know, either. Conferences give you the opportunity to encounter new approaches, products, services and ideas that can spark your imagination and help you take your organization to a new level.
ECT Services is planning to attend four upcoming conferences. We’d love to connect with you!

NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo, May 28 – June 2 in Los Angeles. NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. NAFSA’s 10,000 members represent 3,500 institutions from more than 150 countries.

2017 Healthcare Coalition Conference, September 26 – 28, Hyatt Regency/Lexington Center in Lexington, Ky. The event is planned by the Kentucky Society of Healthcare Engineers, the state chapter representing the American Society of Healthcare Engineering and Association for the Healthcare Environment.

Kentucky Association of Housing Officers Annual Conference. Dates and details have not yet been announced, but the event is usually held in early October and will be hosted this year at Berea College in Berea, Ky. KAHO provides personal and professional growth opportunities for college and university housing and residence life officers.

Kentucky Plant Management Conference, October 18—19, Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington, Ky. The event is sponsored by the Kentucky School Plant Management Association, and typically draws more than 300 attendees to breakout sessions, round tables and more.

We can help you get the picture when it comes to system design

Are you retrofitting an existing building with a new security system? Or perhaps you are embarking on a new construction project, which will include integrated building controls?
Maybe you’ve already put a great deal of thought into your system needs, and perhaps you’ve even done some research into the products and features you want, and discussed your vision with your architect.
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Those are great first steps. Being an informed consumer is always an excellent idea, and working with a knowledgeable professional is well worth the investment of time and other resources.

But when it comes to specialized systems such as access control, temperature control, security and building integration, and additional level of expertise is necessary, too. With the introduction if the Internet of Things, system complexity is increasing exponentially. Having these types of systems designed by someone who specializes in them will ensure quality and performance, and reduce the risk that systems won’t perform up to full potential due to design flaws.

ECT Services will partner with your architect to design and draw a plan for your temperature control, building integration, security and other systems. We don’t compete with your architect; we complement their services for maximum value.

Our design engineers track every element of the systems they design – down to the last plug and screw – and deliver clear, precise, detailed drawings. If design elements are changed during the building process, we update the plans accordingly, so changes can be tracked later.

What does that mean for you? It means updating, expanding and troubleshooting systems will be a much easier process later on, even years after installation. It means you’ll know exactly what elements are included in your system, and you’ll have a complete picture of how they all work together.

Interested in learning more? Call us at (502) 632-4322 to discuss your needs.

5 tips to get your facility ready for fall

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Even with record-setting high temps dogging us well into November, fall and winter weather are bound to arrive in the Ohio Valley sometime soon. Is your facility ready?

Here’s how you can prepare:

 

Check your lighting. Even if it never cools off, the sun is setting earlier each day, and the time will change on Nov. 6. That “fall back” will cost us an hour of daylight in the evening. Be sure to adjust timers which automatically turn lights on and off.
Reassess security systems. Changes in daylight may also mean changes to safety and security threats. Will customers or staff members be entering or exiting your building when it is dark? Now is the time to walk through and around facilities and note any new or shifting risks.
Service your HVAC system. Clean and/or replace filters, and clean out duct work to reduce allergens and ensure peak efficiency. Have your entire heating system inspected by a qualified professional.
Check windows and doors. Inspect all windows and doors to make sure they are operating properly and the seals are tight.
Start coordinating holiday travel schedules. With the holidays approaching, key staff members may plan to take time off or travel. Don’t wait until the last minute to hand off duties, login information, vendor contacts and other key details. For more, check out our earlier post outlining key steps for planning around vacations.

3 ideas for getting on the road to recovery following a disaster

A week ago, the airwaves were filled with dire predictions of widespread destruction, as Hurricane Matthew churned across the Atlantic and through the Caribbean. Matthew struck Haiti with incredible intensity, then moved up the coast, dumping water up the East Coast as far north as Virginia.9845935_s

This week, people across the region are making their way back home and beginning the long process of recovery.

But for many business owners, there will be no recovery. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as many as 40 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster.

How can you beat the odds and keep your doors open if disaster strikes? Here are starting points:

Have a strong disaster recovery plan in place. At its most basic, a disaster recovery plan leads you to consider the types of man-made and natural disasters that might present a risk in your community, and identify ways you can remediate that risk. The Small Business Administration has a number of helpful planning tools available for businesses and organizations of every size here.

Partner with your insurance carrier before, during and after a disaster.  Regularly review your coverage with your insurance agent. Your insurance carrier also likely has a number of risk mitigation and planning tools available, too, that will help you in creating a disaster recovery plan. If your business is impacted by a disaster, call your insurance company right away for guidance.

Keep safety in mind when cleaning up. Cleaning up following a disaster presents its own unique set of challenges.   From downed power lines to displaced wildlife to mold, post-disaster cleanup must be handled with care. Get some tips for cleaning up here.

Drones, wearable tech bring fresh focus to building maintenance

By taking human eyes where it’s difficult for human bodies to go, tech gadgets are taking building maintenance to the next level.

Image: Lino Schmid & Moira Prati

Image: Lino Schmid & Moira Prati

Drones and smart glasses are two of the latest tech gadgets being deployed in new ways to help experts gather information and solve problems.

A story posted by Energy Manager Today highlights several cases where drones are being used to quickly and safely inspect facilities, something that’s often difficult or even impossible.

“A drone can inspect assets that are dangerous and/or difficult to reach — or completely inaccessible to humans. The fact that they are airborne avoids time-consuming preparations, such as building scaffolding to inspect walls. For energy managers, these devices can be used to conduct higher perspective inspections of rooftop assets or even the inside of equipment that have large cavities,” according to the author of the post.

Duke Energy and ConEnergy are both using drones to inspect boilers. Duke has also used drones to check solar panels and assess storm damage. Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance uses drones to scan building roofs for leaks.

While drones are the eyes in the sky for some facility managers, others are turning to smart glasses to focus on solving problems.

An HVAC contractor in Tennessee is using smart glasses to connect technicians, expert support and customers. Lee Company technicians use smart glasses to transmit video feeds to customers and in-office support, improving communication and reducing the need to send additional personnel out to solve problems. The company credits the smart glasses with improving efficiency and customer satisfaction, as well as helping them overcome a labor shortage and attracting new talent.