A Good Time For Technology

“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”  In my estimation, this quote from Ferris Bueller is more relevant now than when first uttered.  We’re in a period where everything continues to speed up and we’re all moving along at breakneck speed to get to the next task, the next meeting, the next event, that it’s often easier to keep your head down and just plow away.  The downside of this is that it’s also easy to miss (or simply take for granted) some of the amazing things that are happening in the world due to technology.

Smartphones, for example.  In the span of just a few years they’ve managed to become a nearly indispensable tool.  Gone are the days of proud parents stuffing their wallets with photos – you now have a literal gallery at your beck and call.  Simply carrying the phone gives us the ability to capture those special moments that in years past may be missed.  Try to remember what life was like travelling to a new city before we all started carrying portable GPS units in our pockets.  What would before take hours of planning is now able to be done in minutes (if not seconds).  That’s not to say that all of the consequences of these pocket computers has been beneficial, but I’d argue that the good outweighs the bad by a significant margin.

Imagine now the opportunity to create new technology.  Instead of further connecting people (like the smartphone did), think of developing the next generation of sustainability.  Advancing the capability of businesses to reduce the amount of energy they consume and to make their facilities healthier.  To help build intelligence that create win-win scenarios for companies and consumers at the same time.   Regardless of anyone’s beliefs on climate change and why it’s happening, it’s clear that the climate is changing.  Another thing that has been clear for some time is that the resources that we have on this planet are finite.  Finally, we’ve also learned that the cheapest energy of all is the energy that doesn’t get used.

Right now there is such an opportunity available.  Melink is actively searching for an Embedded Software Engineer and an Application Developer who would like to join our family as we continue our journey towards a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow.  We’re growing our sustainable offerings, which currently include energy-saving demand controls for commercial kitchens (Intelli-Hood), an innovative geothermal solution (Manifest), HVAC commissioning (Test and Balance), are about to release an innovative new building health monitor (PositiV), and have more innovation on the way.  We’re also creating an awesome Portal that will connect our employees, products and customers with a clean, intuitive interface, creating new applications to expand the reach of our hardware, and improving the work-life balance of our employees.  Help us build the new tomorrow.

Apply online here

PACE Helps Fund Melink HQ2

Word is spreading that we have started construction on one of the greenest buildings in the U.S.  Melink HQ2 will not only expand our corporate campus for future growth, it will also serve as a model for how to design and construct Zero-Energy Buildings.

What is lesser known is how this project is being financed.  Yes, traditional equity and debt will pay for 80% of this $5 million project.  There is no getting around the fact that concrete, steel, and glass costs money and plenty of it.

But the other 20% of this project will be financed by PACE – which stands for Property Accessed Clean Energy.  This is a smart way to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements that might otherwise get axed from consideration because of budget constraints.

Basically, PACE financing is a long-term loan that gets paid over the long term by the energy savings of the above stated improvements.  However, rather than calling it debt, it is recognized as a property tax assessment based on the increased value of the improvements.

In this example, Melink will be able to make $1 million worth of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements and pay for them gradually over the next 30 years through an assessment on our property taxes.  In other words, the energy savings will cash-flow the incremental value.

This is important for the building industry to understand, including developers, architects, and construction firms.  The reason is, investing up to 20% on energy improvements can make the difference between a zero-energy building and an energy hog that cripples your business.

There is no personal guarantee required and no additional debt on your balance sheet.  You get a fixed rate with fixed payments that can be passed onto your tenants through a triple-net lease.

Moreover, it allows you as the building owner and/or tenant to market your sustainability mindset and accomplishments.  And with growing pressure from customers and employees to be part of the solution, there is no excuse for not doing the right thing.

For our project, Ohio PACE and CenterBank have been indispensable partners to making this financing possible for us.  In your state, it might be someone else.  Either way, if your clients don’t know about this financing tool, you need to educate them on it.

Leading by example is one of the most important things we can do.  And with PACE financing, we hope to show countless other building owners and professionals that zero energy buildings are not only proven and practical, but also profitable.  Today.

Considerations for a Successful HVAC Equipment Upgrade Program

Have you ever replaced old HVAC equipment just to find that, after spending a lot of money, the comfort issues you were experiencing previously are still there?  Or you now have new problems that weren’t there before?  Your HVAC operates as a complete system, and the new equipment is only as good as its installation quality and the existing system it is connected with.  Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your HVAC equipment upgrade program.

  1. First, be proactive.  Get ahead of HVAC issues before they get worse or before they occur at all.  The more proactive you are, the lesser the negative impacts to your facilities operating budget, revenue, customer relations, and human resources.  On the flip side, with a fix-on-fail approach, you deal with costly emergency repairs, you have high energy costs from inefficient equipment, your revenue and customer relations suffer as uncomfortable customers take their business elsewhere, and your human resources incur lost productivity and even turnover of employees due to uncomfortable/unhealthy working conditions.  Not to mention the effect on your stress level when you have to deal with HVAC breakdowns!
  2. Start with a site survey.  You need an accurate inventory of your existing HVAC equipment, so you can make decisions on what to do with it.  Be clear about what information you need to have collected from the field, information that will enable you to make a thorough evaluation and meaningful recommendations.  Examples include equipment age, condition, features, operating measures, and so on.  Remember that your HVAC is a system, made up of many components all working together.  The focus can tend to be limited to the heating/cooling equipment, but there are also other pieces of the system that are very important, such as exhaust fans, ductwork, air grilles, and controls, to name a few.  Issues with these other components could limit the effectiveness of any new heating/cooling equipment.  The system is only as good as its weakest member.
  3. Assess the data.  Review the data returned from the site surveys to assess the overall scale and scope of your upgrade program.  Determine your trigger points for repair versus replacement, such as equipment age, condition, and efficiency.  This is the methodology that will help you to objectively decide whether you will continue to invest in a piece of equipment or replace it altogether.  In grading the equipment, this could be a simple, Green – Yellow – Red system of classification.  Green meaning ‘do nothing’, the equipment is good as-is.  Yellow meaning ‘repair’, the equipment has some issues that can be corrected at relatively low cost.  Red meaning ‘replace’, the equipment has completely failed or is no longer worth investing in.
  4. Prepare a scope of work.  Apply the previously prepared methodology to your entire equipment inventory.  This then becomes your scope of work for each site.  Put the scope in writing and be clear about your expectations.  Your equipment suppliers and installation contractors will need this scope in order to provide you with accurate estimates of cost and lead time.  This advanced planning, budgeting, and coordination will help to ensure the subsequent execution of the work goes smoothly.
  5. Consider the timing.  Equipment suppliers and installation contractors tend to be busiest in the summer and early fall months when construction activity peaks.  Avoiding these times helps to ensure you have the support you need, and your costs may be lower.  Plus, upgrading before summer helps to prepare your facilities to handle the hot/humid weather ahead.  Any temporary outages of heating/cooling that may occur while equipment is being repaired or replaced is less impactful on the facility operations during times of milder weather.
  6. Vet your partners.  Working with the right people makes a world of difference.  Partner with suppliers and contractors who are trustworthy and reputable.  Make sure they have experience with your type of facility and HVAC system, and are qualified for the services to be performed.  With the right team, you can accomplish most anything.
  7. Inspect the work.  After the equipment is repaired or replaced, it is imperative that it be inspected, tested, balanced, and commissioned in order to receive the full benefit of your capital investment.  This is your final assurance that you get the quality and performance expected out of your HVAC system.  When issues are uncovered during this process, be sure to have them corrected by the suppliers and contractors while they are still under warranty.  If left unaddressed, those issues will become headaches and costs to your facilities and operations teams later.

Managing an HVAC equipment upgrade program can be a daunting job.  When it is handled in a proactive and organized fashion, and includes the right partners, the results can be extraordinary.