February 23rd, 2021

Who doesn’t want a system that can learn your habits and anticipate what you’ll do? Automating home temperature controls came to the forefront with products like The Nest and now there are systems to “think” for your commercial space in the same way. 

We’ve written about AI before. We’ve shared the Internet of Things and how automating systems can streamline processes for your organization. 

Today we are introducing a new product for which we are an authorized dealer: Brainbox AI. This system is currrently available through ECT Services and is changing the game for our customers who have already installed it. 

The system not only automates temperature controls, it does so much more, including  automatically adjusting humidity levels. Still, there are even more options available. Here are some examples: 

Think about a building that takes into account the temperature and humidity outside of the building to benefit the interior.  If the eastern facing part of the building knows the sun will rise with no clouds, the building may not require as much needed heat.  The AI then may be able to notify the system the heat is not required as long.  This pro-active approach then allows the equipment to not run so hard, so long, and turns into savings.  If a building can learn the elements before they happen, such as predicted temperatures or humidity, sun or clouds, it can then use natural resources to help make the tenants more comfortable.  It can also determine the outside temperature and know on which days that sink water should be heated versus room temperature. Things building managers may not have considered altering a few years ago are now the norm – and it’s affecting energy bills. 

Ever had one of those co-working situations where every morning someone turns up the heat and every afternoon someone else turns it down? What about the people who get the sun’s heat in the morning versus the afternoon? All of these situations can be learned to maximize efficiency and balance comfort. 

Brainbox AI runs through the temperature control main system, but again, it can help automate water usage and also light usage. 

It can take approximately 3-6 months to learn how these systems are being used but will lead a savings in energy use and energy cost. It can be organized by a building as a whole or can be broken down by floor, side of building, etcetera. 

For more information about automating your building systems, please contact us here or call us at 800-567-1180.

February 15th, 2021

When quarantining began nearly a year ago and the workforce went home, the lights seemed to have gone out. They didn’t just “seem” to go out. They were turned off. You can’t blame building managers for managing their energy bills in such a manner – why have the lights/heat on if no one was going to be in their offices utilizing those services? Might as well save on the energy bill, right?

In Louisville, so much of our downtown is taken up by office buildings and commercial space. So when the employees of these companies went home last March, so much of downtown looked like a ghost town. With the lights off, it’s even worse. Nothing could possibly seem as desolate as an empty, dark downtown. It reminds me of those photos of deserted shopping malls.

Our customers have started going another way with this. Our city has been in the news a fair amount in the past year, and our downtown in particular. What the people of our city needed, and continue to need, is a sign of resurgence.  They want hope and to know they have not been abandoned.

What we have seen over the past few months is companies stepping up to provide a glimmer of hope through the glimmer of a return to turning the lights on – to making downtown come back to life.

In Kentucky terms, it seems we’re in the “third turn” of this pandemic and soon enough… we’ll be at the finish line. When that time eventually comes and the workforce can once again enter through the turnstiles and ride up that elevator to their cubicles, we’ll want the downtown ambiance to be bustling and “happening” again. We believe that it will be.

February 5th, 2019

Did last year’s tax overhaul benefit your business? Do you now have more capital to invest in improvements? If you’ve been holding off on green investments because you are concerned about the short-term cost, now may be the time to consider taking the plunge.

If you invested in green energy upgrades in 2018 – installing solar, geothermal, or wind to power your business – you might qualify for up to a 30 percent corporate tax credit rebate on your investment.

If you are considering installing green energy options, you’ll want to consider acting quickly because tax credits will be diminishing over the next several years.

According to the schedule posted on energy.gov, solar projects will be eligible for up to 30 percent corporate tax credits through 2019, will drop to 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021. Geothermal projects are reimbursable up to 10 percent, and that credit for certain projects will go away after 2021.

The credit has been around for more than a decade, and the program has overgone significant changes several times. Currently, building owners in the commercial, industrial, utilities and agricultural sectors can take advantage of the credits. The credits are only available to those who originate the use of the green energy – you can’t simply buy energy from a green supplier – and must be installed by qualified contractors and meet certain standards for quality.

The use of this tax credit can be combined with other credits, too, to maximize benefits. Check with your tax professional for details. You might be able to quickly redeem some of the upfront investment in green energy, and also see reduced energy costs long term as well.

Interested in learning more about how your green energy efforts can be tied together with integrated building solutions? We’re leaders in innovative building integration and we can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

September 17th, 2018

September is National Preparedness Month, a time when families are encouraged to make plans for how they will survive fires, floods, tornados or other disasters.

Preparedness is not just for families, however. Business, schools and other organizations also need to have preparedness plans in place.

The ongoing, widespread disaster unfolding along the Mid-Atlantic coast is a stark reminder of why disaster preparedness matters. Hurricane Florence has dropped record amounts of rain already, with more still to come, and massive flooding is anticipated from the coast up into the Appalachian Mountains.

Think we’re safe from hurricanes in the Ohio Valley? It was ten years ago this month that remnants of Hurricane Ivan reformed over Kentucky and swept up the valley and wrought a path of destruction from Arkansas to Canada, including 75 mile per hour wind gusts in Louisville and Cincinnati. The storm downed trees and knocked power out for days throughout the region.
And hurricane season is far from being over. The season will peak in October.

Beyond natural disasters, fires and active shooter events are also a threat. Planning should extend beyond the event and protecting staff, customers and property from immediate harm to business continuity. How will you continue to operate or get back up and running as quickly as possible following a disaster? Proper planning should address all everything from the initial event to complete recovery.

How robust is your preparedness plan? This checklist from the National Fire Protection Association is a great place to start assessing your efforts. The NFPA is also offering this free guide for the development, implementation, assessment, and maintenance of disaster/emergency management and continuity of operations programs on its website.

Well-designed, well-maintained and well-documented integrated systems are key to running your business day to day and recovering in the aftermath of disaster. ECT Services offers more than 30 years of experience delivering design, development and service that keep facilities operating at peak safety and efficiency. Call us today at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

March 12th, 2018

Weren’t we shivering under a blanket of snow just a couple of weeks ago? Then temps became warmer, with sunshine abundant, and spring fever started setting in. Of course, then it snowed last night.

Spring will officially start on March 20. Between now and then we could see several inches of snow, afternoon highs in the 80s, tornadoes, floods and just about anything in between. If you have any doubts, just check your Facebook memories and you’ll probably see evidence of all of these weather conditions on this day over the last several years.

With spring on the way, now is the time to tackle some routine maintenance and seasonal tasks. Put these on your to-do list now:

Check outside lighting. Walk your parking areas and around the outside of your facility. Look for outside lighting that may have been damaged during snowy, icy weather. Look for light bulbs that have burned out and replace them.

Check landscaping. Flower beds, parking lot islands, sidewalks and lawn areas might have taken a beating when being plowed, scraped and salted this winter. Look for signs of damage and note needed repairs. Look for potholes in parking lots that need repair, and significant gaps or cracks in sidewalks that can cause slips and falls.

Check security cameras and alarms. Review the placement and condition of all inside and outside cameras. Inspect wiring, and check placement to be sure views haven’t shifted or otherwise been compromised.

Clean or change HVAC filters and schedule routine maintenance. Pollen is already flying, and more will be in the air soon. Cleaning or changing out filters is a must to keep allergen levels down inside your facility. Plus, the system is likely to have trapped a lot of debris over the winter months; cleaning or changing the filter is a must for keeping the system running at peak efficiency.

Review severe weather policies and procedures. Tornado season is already underway. Schedule a drill with your team and make sure they all know what to do in the case of severe weather. Update checklists and rosters, especially is you’ve welcomed new team members or made other personnel changes since your last drill.

If you’d like to know more about how you can optimize and integrate your building systems, call us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

November 16th, 2017

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 (800) 567-1180 to learn more.

August 10th, 2017

President Trump has proposed steep cuts to the budgets of agencies charged with protecting the environment, and has pledged to roll back regulations that he sees as barriers to business growth.

Proposals include  cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by one third, and significantly reducing staff. The cuts would deeply impact enforcement at both the state and federal level, and would end the Energy Star rating program.

President Trump also withdrew the United States from the Paris Accord, an agreement between dozens of countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to slow or reverse climate change.

How have businesses responded to the proposals and changes? Rather than cheering loudly, many have pledged to continue their environmentally-friendly efforts, according to a recent post by Energy Manager Today.

According to the post, “REI, Kohls and Netflix currently source 100% of their electricity usage through renewable energy, while Google recently announced it will meet its 100% renewable energy goal this year.”

Goldman Sachs, which is anticipating a surge in renewable energy growth in Europe, recently signed an agreement to purchase power from a wind farm in Pennsylvania.

Apple also plans to build a data center in Denmark run completely on renewable energy, according to the post.

Why do businesses remain committed to renewable energy and other environmentally conscious practices, even if government regulations relax and incentives evaporate? Here are two reasons:

Consumers are watching. Consumers are typically favorable towards environmentally-friendly practices, and many actively seek out companies which share their commitment. Companies benefit when their brand is seen as “green,” both in terms of brand perception and competitive advantage.

Long-term cost efficiencies. Over the long-term, energy saving and renewable energy options actually turn out to be less expensive to operate and maintain than less green, traditional options. Business save money by optimizing lighting systems, adding smart sensors and more.

Integrated systems play a significant role in energy efficiency. Interested in learning more about integrated systems? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 to talk to us about your needs.

August 7th, 2017

On August 21, the United States will experience a solar eclipse. The path of totality where the sun will be completely eclipsed will cut a 70-mile wide swath from Oregon in the Pacific Northwest to Charleston, SC on the Southeast Atlantic coast.

The path will cut through West Kentucky, with the city of Hopkinsville serving as the epicenter of the eclipse. The point of greatest eclipse – where the sun, moon and earth align perfectly – will take place over Hopkinsville for two minutes and forty seconds at 2:24:41 pm ET on the day of the eclipse.

The last time the U.S. experienced an eclipse of this magnitude was nearly 100 years ago, in 1918.

The eclipse will be a scientific and educational boon, and it will certainly be an economic boon to the areas in the path of totality, particularly Hopkinsville.

What will the eclipse mean in terms of the power grid? Safety and security?

States that rely heavily on solar power will see a significant impact, according to a report in Energy Manager Today. California, North Carolina, Utah and Nevada are all expected to be impacted.

The effect of the eclipse will be the equivalent of shutting down several nuclear reactors at once, according to the report. Fortunately, most customers shouldn’t have any interruptions in service. Utilities have had plenty of time to prepare and test systems, and systems have multiple redundancies built in. That, coupled with the rolling nature of the event should mean the lights remain on even when it grows dark around mid-afternoon.

Communities in the path of totality are expecting significant infrastructure implications. Hopkinsville could more than double its population for the day. All those out of town visitors will rely on apps on their smartphones to navigate and communicate. The increased traffic will surely overwhelm cell towers. In anticipation, additional temporary cell towers are being added.

Traffic is also expected to be a problem, with last minute visitors clogging I-24 and the Pennyrile Parkway. The region doesn’t boast nearly enough beds to accommodate the influx of visitors, so temporary campgrounds are being set up in vacant fields and porta potties are being brought in to address sanitary concerns. Since the late August weather could be hot and steamy, cooling stations are being set up at key areas, too.

EMS responders are training, and officials are considering National Guard support as well.
The takeaway for businesses? Preparation and communication are key for remaining steady during significant events that are beyond your control. Coordination among businesses, government agencies and other partners is key.

July 25th, 2017

The dog days of summer have arrived, and with them peak energy use. Air conditioners are pumping at full blast, and energy managers are dreading next month’s power bill.

What can businesses do to conserve power and control costs? Here are a few simple tips:

 

  • Set the thermostat to 78 degrees while facilities are in use, and 80 or above when not in use.
  • Check all air filters and change as necessary. Service units regularly to make sure they are running at peak efficiency.
  • Install programmable thermostats to automatically adjust according to your desired settings.
  • Replace older equipment with newer, more energy-efficient models.
  • Check in with LG & E about possible rebates for new energy-efficient equipment. LG & E also offers a demand conservation program which may provide your business with modest monthly savings.
  • If you use an outside vendor to providing vending machines in your facility’s break room, check with them to see if the machines are Energy Star machines. If they are not, negotiate for an upgrade.
  • Replace all incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs.
  • Don’t forget outside lights. Put outside lights on timers or sensors, or make sure they are shut off during daylight hours.
  • Install motion sensors that automatically turn off lights when rooms are unoccupied.
  • Keep window shades/blinds drawn to block heat, or install screens or film to reflect bright sunlight.
  • Turn off and/or unplug equipment when not in use.
  • Consider flexible work arrangements where appropriate. If employees duties don’t require them to physically be in your office, why not have them work from home? Fewer workers in the office means less demand for lighting, cooling and power.
  • Maximize your landscaping to shade and shelter your building. An ocean of asphalt is not the most energy-efficient setting. A few well-placed trees can block the sun’s rays from heating up your facility.

April 12th, 2017

Spring is here, and several ECT Services partners have announced the launch of new products. Here’s a rundown of the latest:


HID Global announced the launch of HID Location Services. The new offering allows organizations to track its workforce in a facility. The real-time proximity-based services verify employee locations for use cases such as monitoring employee check in and check out, monitoring room occupancy, facility management, workforce optimization and more.
“HID Location Services extends HID’s leadership in physical access control with a cutting-edge Internet of Things offering for workforce optimization solutions that can be easily integrated into existing systems,” said Harm Radstaak, Vice President and Managing Director of Physical Access Control Solutions with HID Global in a company press release. “These new capabilities leverage the power of trusted identities to provide a new level of visibility for customers to better understand how buildings are used, help quickly find people in emergency situations, and deliver an extraordinary user experience.”
HID Location Services is off to a strong start, snagging the Most Valuable Product (MVP) award from Security Sales & Integration (SSI) magazine. HID Location Services also took top honors in the Security Industry Association (SIA) New Product Showcase competition in the category of Access Control Devices & Peripherals Wireless.
Bosch Security Systems also introduced a new line of intelligent IP cameras, all of which feature video analytics. The new MIC IP fusion 9000i camera also offers metadata fusion, which fuses the metadata of the camera’s built-in optical and thermal imager.
Bosch also introduced In-Store Analytics, a Cloud-based solution that uses intelligent Bosch IP panoramic cameras to give retailers insights on store traffic, according to a release from the company.
Axis Communications also recently announced new and updated product lines. The FA series of discreet indoor surveillance cameras includes the AXIS FA54 Main Unit, AXIS FA1105 Sensor Unit with a standard lens, AXIS FA1125 Sensor Unit with a pinhole lens and AXIS FA4115 Dome Sensor Unit with a varifocal lens. The series enables indoor surveillance of four closely situated areas using a single system system.
“By separating the sensor unit from the camera body, the sensor units can fit into tight spaces and blend in with the environment for unobtrusive surveillance. The pinhole sensor unit is especially useful at entrances for capturing people’s faces at eye level,” said Erik Mårtensson, Global Product Manager for Modular cameras at Axis Communications, in a company press release. “AXIS FA Series is really cost-efficient since it offers customers the possibility to cover multiple areas of a location with one high-performance camera system.”
Axis also added the indoor AXIS P1367 and outdoor AXIS P1367-E and AXIS P1368-E network cameras to its AXIS P13 fixed-box series.
Belimo also launched a new line of HVAC sensors, developed to seamlessly integrate into building automation systems. The sensors feature universal compact enclosure design, screwless snap covers and a detachable mounting plate.