It has been two years since the latest onset of this country’s reckoning with the unequal treatment of Black and People of Color in our society. While the murder of George Floyd was a turning point for many, since then the division within our country seems only to be growing wider, with each ‘side’ becoming more entrenched and insistent in their perspective.
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Few documents are as important to commissioning providers as the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR), it is our building block, our map and compass used to navigate the project to success from pre-design to occupancy. It's obvious this is an important document to us at Cx Associates, too. A search of our website resulted in three full pages of hits of the acronym. We’re know this document inside and out, from developing them, to reviewing pre-existing OPRs, to gently reminding contractors and designers that the document exists, but until about a year ago there was only one way around an OPR.
6 min read
On March 10, I returned to a very different world here in Vermont after having spent the prior two weeks visiting New Zealand. While at the Auckland airport on my trip home, I accepted a position at Cx Associates, not knowing how the coming weeks would unfold as the virus was beginning to explode in the states. Upon my return, I self-quarantined for the recommended 14 days, and then the stay-at-home orders and various recommendations kept me here. Ten weeks in, I’ve had to adjust to a new life and start a new job that was never meant to be remote, remotely. I’ve learned a thing or two about working from home amidst a pandemic and would like to offer you some of the ways I’ve found rhythm and comfort among the challenges, and resources to get you started should you feel a certain strategy might be beneficial.
Topics: Workplace & People COVID-19 coronavirus remote
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In this time of global crisis, it can be hard to cope with some of the new realities we’re all being faced with, whether it’s experiencing isolation due to social distancing, fearing for yourself or loved ones, or dealing with the virus’ economic impact. As a business that strives to engineer a future where buildings are better for people and planet, we can’t help but notice the ways this crisis reflects global warming’s looming themes: it’s going to affect everyone, it has dangerous consequences, and it takes a global effort to combat. While I only have the emotional bandwidth for one global emergency at a time, the environment is still in the back of my mind, and I can’t help but think of the ways the virus and our environment are inextricably linked.
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Recently, I have been contemplating the impact of our college teaching styles on the future of our workforce. With technologies and global needs changing so rapidly, what should undergraduate programs foster to prepare graduates for the future needs of the workforce? On a professional level, this has been instigated by our company’s recent search for new employees. On a personal level it comes from being the parent of three young adults who will be entering the workforce in the coming years, as well as discussions with two of my siblings who are college educators.
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As someone very new to the engineering world, I’ve learned a lot in the last few months about the impact that engineers can have on climate change. I came to Cx Associates and the world of commissioning in a rather round-about way. My background is in molecular genetics, specifically lung cancer research, but when I moved to Burlington this past summer, I decided to pivot in my career path. I’d found myself desiring more and more to move into a field that was doing some good for the world. I know, I know, many would say “Hey! Cancer research is good for the world!,” and I certainly don’t deny that, but what good is finding new cancer treatments if there isn’t a planet that can viably support the patients those treatments would be for? As I’m sure many of you heard or read in the news some months ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2018 Climate Report showed that “global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate” (something some climate scientists have argued is a conservative estimate). This will have devastating effects on people’s lives, and not only in poorer nations of the world – the Fourth National Climate Assessment released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program in November 2018 predicts U.S. economic losses due to climate change in 2090 as $280-$500 billion/year. These reports cemented my feelings in the weeks and months after I began at CxA, but I had already felt myself pulled towards the idea of working for a company or organization that was doing solid, on the ground work to combat climate change. I did not expect that pull to land me at a consulting engineering firm.
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Last week in part I of this post, I discussed the advantages of companies allowing some workers to work remotely, and what my transition to a remote worker was like. In this week’s follow up post, I’ll get a little more into the logistics of working remotely and flag some recommended practices and tools that have worked well for us.
Topics: Workplace & People
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In 2014, due to life and professional circumstances unrelated to my job as Operations Manager at Cx Associates, my wife and I relocated from Burlington, Vermont to Chicago, Illinois. Having worked for Cx Associates since 2009, I was reluctant to leave behind my job – I was happy there, the people I worked with were fantastic, and the work was meaningful and interesting. Luckily for me, when I approached the owners about the possibility of continuing to work remotely for CxA from Chicago, they agreed to let me stay on. I was ecstatic!
Topics: Workplace & People
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Optimal start/stop (OSS) is available as an out-of-the-box function in almost every HVAC building automation system sold on the commercial market today. Folks toss the term around with a very loose understanding of what it means. PID controls suffer the same dilemma. When you ask any industry professional to define OSS, you’ll get this generic and common response (Figure 1):
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The title of Project Coordinator, as well as Project Manager, is ubiquitous in most industries, but also rife with preconceptions that stem from an individual firm or team’s experience with the role. I was hired at Cx Associates as a Project Coordinator, filling a position that had existed before my arrival. My role was 1/3 Project Coordinator and 2/3 administrative support for at least a year. As a Project Coordinator, I learned how to coordinate measurement and verification of incentivized energy efficiency projects, among other things.