Building Energy Resilience

Ideas to fuel a sustainable built environment

3 min read

The Importance of the Project Coordinator Role in Building Commissioning

By Rachael Straub on May 9, 2018 9:50:00 AM

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.

Topics: Building Cx & Design Review Workplace & People
4 min read

The Case for Monitoring Outside Air Flow in Hospitals

By Walker Calderwood on Mar 7, 2018 10:05:00 AM

It can often be an afterthought as to how much outdoor air (OA) is actually being drawn into a hospital through air handling equipment, but maintaining proper outdoor air volume is a vital part of achieving effective infection control, as well as meeting space pressurization requirements.  Proper OA volumes are also a metric that can be reviewed for non-compliance during Joint Commission audits.  The amount of outside air that a hospital’s air handling equipment should introduce into the building is defined by the ASHRAE Standard 170, which was discussed in one of our previous blog posts, Optimizing Air Handling Units for Healthcare. As we pointed out in this prior post, an airflow station, when properly selected and installed,  is an effective piece of hardware which can be used to monitor this outside air quantity (typically in cubic feet per minute), and the data provided by this meter can be very useful in a healthcare setting.

Topics: Workplace & People Building Performance & Technology
4 min read

Impressions of Colombia: Farming, Fair Trade, and the FARC Peace Treaty

By Eveline Killian on Jan 24, 2018 1:30:00 AM

I recently had the privilege to travel to Colombia with Engineers Without Borders to assess the needs and resources for an irrigation project for family farms.  Colombia is very well suited for coffee and sugar cane, but the dry season is too harsh for more sensitive plants like basil, lettuce, spinach, and peppers.  For this, farmers need drip irrigation, water catchment, water reservoir, and water diversion.  Our group’s goal is to develop an affordable, sustainable, and replicable design as a pilot project for ten farmers in central Colombia.  We are working with Food 4 Farmers, an international non-governmental organization (NGO), Nueva Realidad, a Bogota based NGO, and Nuevo Futuro, the local coffee cooperative.  We knew what our goal was before we started, but we had no idea what to expect from the trip.  Here are our impressions of the country with which our team returned.

Topics: Sustainability Public Policy Workplace & People
4 min read

Making Meetings Work For You

By Jennifer Chiodo on Jul 6, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Are meetings a waste of time? Deriding them as such is common.  But with some upfront effort, meetings can deliver outcomes that would otherwise take much longer to achieve. 

Topics: Workplace & People
4 min read

Construction Project Management Challenges in Healthcare Facilities

By Katie Mason on Jun 22, 2016 11:36:49 AM

In a recent blog post, I shared my experience as an Owners’ Project Manager for a mechanical system upgrade in an office building for a large organization in Burlington, Vermont. This role has provided me with several new related projects in a healthcare facility, each varying in type and having a very different effect on the overall environment of the organization. In the healthcare environment, I have become familiar with its unique construction challenges. This post will discuss a couple of these challenges and approaches for preventing these challenges from adversely affecting the overall success of the project.

Topics: Workplace & People Healthcare
4 min read

Battle of the Office Thermostat – Fanger Who?

By Matt Napolitan on Aug 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

It’s that time of year again – summer – season of vacations, sunscreen (for me at least), mowing the lawn and (queue ominous music) the dreaded “Battle of the Office Thermostat.” We all know what this is. You go to work in an office and, if you’re a woman, when the man sitting next to you is perfectly comfortable you are teeth-chattering freezing. If you’re a man and the woman next to you is comfortable, you feel hot and stuffy. Disclaimer – I am a man. Second disclaimer – I don’t wear skirts and sandals to work, even if it’s 90 degrees outside.

Topics: Workplace & People Building Performance & Technology
3 min read

The Hand-Off-Auto (HOA) Switch and Efficiency

By Ben Fowler on Sep 24, 2014 6:00:00 AM

I recently had a meeting with one of my favorite long-term clients. We met to discuss some upcoming work, and while there, I poked around in the chiller plant mechanical room to see how things were running. We were involved in design review and commissioning for the new chiller plant, and have been impressed with its efficiency. It’s a water cooled chiller with high efficiency, magnetic bearing compressors and all the bells and whistles. In the past, we’ve metered consistently high performance out of the chiller plant as a whole, saving the client many thousands of dollars per year in electrical savings.

Topics: Workplace & People Building Performance & Technology
3 min read

E-Cigarettes and Indoor Air Quality

By Ben Fowler on Jun 25, 2014 6:00:00 AM

A year or so ago I was part of an “office share” office where I had my own desk in shared office space with other professionals in unrelated fields. At the time, I lived 40 miles from our company offices here in Burlington, and to cut down on the daily commute, for a few days each week I worked out of this shared office closer to my home. It was really a great place to be, interesting, and much better for productivity that siting at the kitchen table!

Topics: Public Policy Workplace & People
3 min read

Communication Frustration

By Matt Napolitan on Apr 16, 2014 11:00:00 AM

We live and work in an age where communication can happen in an instant. Emails circumnavigate the globe in a couple of seconds, text messages ding on our phones as soon as they’re sent and usually expect an immediate response, and our cell phones can be called no matter where we are or what time of day it is. While this hyper connectivity does have the potential to streamline how we interact and do business and make our lives easier, I am finding effective communication to be more and more difficult. From what I’ve observed, people are simply overwhelmed by the volume of input they are receiving. This results in their inability to respond to requests in a timely fashion or, if they do respond, it is often incomplete, misses the point, or is unclear because of a misunderstanding of the original request (likely due to the fact that they didn’t think they had the time to listen to the entire voicemail or read the whole email).

Topics: Workplace & People
4 min read

Energy Efficiency as a Long-Term Commitment

By Eveline Killian on Feb 19, 2014 5:00:00 AM

In my last blog post, I discussed the short- to medium-term hiring of an Energy Auditor. But if your firm is dedicated to energy efficiency as a matter of doing business, you are looking for a person to act in a long-term role of an Energy Manager. This position doesn't have to be full-time and it can be held by an outside consultant, but you want someone who will learn your facility, your equipment, your employees’ needs and your process needs. This can’t be a tactical strike as the energy audit is, because an audit is only a snapshot. If energy management is a goal, you need someone who will stay with your business and keep abreast of the changing needs and circumstances. This takes a high level, managerial decision to invest in the efficiency of the facility.

Topics: Energy Efficiency Workplace & People