Cothrom Risk & Insurance Services

HYStat smart technology opened Cothrom Risk & Insurance Services eyes to the downtime-prevention power of a system that’s always on the alert for trouble. It also brought the comfort and energy efficiency they were looking for.

Project Name and Location:

Cothrom Risk & Insurance Services
2300 NE 9th Street, Suite 3
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

Cothram-Case-Study

Client/Owner Contact:

Jordan Gillespie Partner
(754) 312-5408

Project Status:

Ongoing
Cothrom
Risk & Insurance Services

Project Scope:

As a rising insurance and risk management agency for a wide range of industries, Fort Lauderdale-based Cothrom knows the value of reducing losses and expenses by analyzing data. So when they had the chance to take better control of comfort and operating costs at their office by switching to a data-driven A/C monitoring service, they eagerly made the jump to Hill York’s HYStat.

With the agency in growth mode, HYStat’s smartphone app was an instant highlight. The remote connectivity and feature-rich functionality enabled an expanding team of partners who were working different schedules to easily view and change settings and manage office comfort levels outside of normal business hours.

As Hill York’s team of analysts monitored performance from a network operations center, Cothrom also saw the kind of data-driven communication they emphasize in serving their own clients. The upgrade to HYStat shed light on specific adjustments to enhance staff comfort, stabilize system performance, and generate cost reductions and efficiency gains. After the first full year under the HYStat program, Cothrom received a summary showing high marks for equipment performance despite its physical condition. The report did point out that a unit as old as theirs is vulnerable to breakdown.

“Giving Cothrom a data-based method to evaluate risks, make informed decisions and get a higher return on investment was something that closely mirrored their own service model,” said Hill York Senior Analyst Chris Hamilton. “That’s the heart of HYStat’s appeal – true predictive maintenance that contains costs, facilitates capital budgeting, and keeps unpleasant surprises from clouding an otherwise positive business outlook.”

Fatefully, it was a rapidly unfolding situation that prodded Cothrom’s management to fully embrace the technology. A small refrigerant leak in an outside air conditioning unit quickly grew, causing the system to freeze up during a hot spring day. The HYStat thermostat and sensors feeding live data to Hill York’s analysts detected a decline in cooling efficiency 24 hours before the leak became critical. An automated alert was issued and a call was made to Cothrom communicating the danger signs.

“Unfortunately, we put off service thinking we could just clean up the closet and it would all be fine,” acknowledged Jordan Gillespie, a partner at Cothrom. “The result was a broken unit and two days of downtime that created a very uncomfortable 82-degree office.”

Using HYStat’s remote capabilities before traveling to the site, a Hill York technician diagnosed the problem within 15 minutes of arriving and confirmed the need to replace the older unit.

“Our take-away from that experience was to believe in the analytical power of the technology to catch problems early and avoid unnecessary downtime,” observed Gillespie. “That’s why we invested in HYStat in the first place – data-rich remote monitoring backed by the professionalism of the Hill York team.”

In providing greater insight into their indoor climate and costs, HYStat supplies a power that’s putting Cothrom on very familiar ground: Being in control and able to analyze risks to make smart business decisions now and over the long term.

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Hill York’s HYStat Monitoring Helps ANF Group, Inc. Enjoy Surprise-Free A/C

ANF-Group-ArticleAs one of South Florida’s leading general contracting and construction management companies, ANF Group, Inc., has more pressing things to think about than their own air conditioning system. So when Hill York told this longtime industry partner about the benefits of HYStat smart technology monitoring, ANF saw a chance to put their cooling system on cruise control.

Now, a year after the install, the promise of predictive, data-based A/C monitoring has more than lived up to its potential. The  installation of four HYStat thermostats on the rooftop package units of ANF Group’s Davie headquarters has stabilized performance, maximized energy management, and taken surprises out of the equation.

“From an information and communication point of view, HYStat has empowered us to stay a step ahead of cooling system issues and basic preventative maintenance,” said ANF Group, Inc. Contract Administrator Viki Moore. “With real-time data notifications from both the program and our contacts at Hill York, we’re never left in the dark about system performance, utility costs, or even when it’s time to change the filters.”

According to Hill York Senior Analyst Chris Hamilton, ANF Group, Inc’s monitoring and service upgrade to HYStat from a traditional maintenance contract has been a study in data-driven peace of mind.

“ANF’s rooftop systems are seven years old – more than halfway through the normal lifecycle,” he observed. “It’s reassuring to see that the key data confirms the equipment performance, runtime, and physical condition are all on track and going strong. If anything  changes down the line, they’ll be able to plan smart maintenance and capital decisions with the data provided.” Until then, ANF Group, Inc. is happy to enjoy the surprise-free comfort and control that HYStat’s analytical power makes possible. After all, when you’re out building some of South Florida’s most prominent education and healthcare facilities, it’s nice to know you have the perfect climate for cooling off back at the office.

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Thermostat Wars: What’s Best For Your Business?

The lowest hanging fruit for potential energy and dollar savings in a home or office is your thermostat. On average, 10% in energy savings can be saved by dialing back an AC system’s temperatures by around 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day. Doing this setback manually can be a hassle so there are different styles of thermostats to make it as easy as possible to realize savings; we look at programmable, connected, and smart thermostat’s below.

Programmable Thermostats

The most common thermostats are programmable. These have the ability to set a simple temperature schedule for a home or business based upon the day and time. This allows for a set temperature during business hours and a temperature setback during vacant hours. One of the issues of a programmable thermostat is their complexity. Knowing this, reading the manual and completing a proper set up are required to ensure energy and dollar savings.

Connected Thermostats

Newer to the scene are connected thermostats. These thermostats have all the features of a programmable thermostat with the ability to connect to the internet. Connected thermostats usually come with smartphone applications or a web portals to adjust temperatures and set schedules in real time, essentially solving any usability issues. The positioning of connected thermostats in the marketplace is as a bridge from programmable to smart thermostat’s.  This can benefit them as they offer ease of use but lack many of the new features consumers want such as learning algorithms, alerting, and enterprise solutions.

Smart Thermostats

In addition to having all the abilities of connected thermostats, smart thermostats feature additional sensors and built-in algorithms to manage runtime, energy use, and personal comfort. Common sensors on smart thermostats include: ambient temperature from multiple spaces, humidity, sunlight, outside weather, and occupancy. True value of the sensors is realized through the algorithms embedded in the thermostat firmware that learns habits, comfort levels, and schedules to keep a space comfortable while minimizing the HVAC runtime. Smart thermostats have higher upfront costs and are designed for residential applications.

HYStat

If you are a business owner looking for the best thermostat, turn to the connected thermostat from Hill York; HYStat. We monitor your systems 24/7 and apply our own algorithms to the data from the multitude of sensors installed to prevent condensate overflows and system downtime. In addition, we have a proven track record of energy savings after installation. Whether you want to have a thermostat that brings peace of mind or a thermostat that puts you in charge of saving money on maintenance and energy, HYStat is the best thermostat for your business.

IBM Southeast Employees Credit Union

Hill York implements a comprehensive energy efficiency program to help IBM Southeast Employees Credit Union save $1,200 a month in energy costs at their Delray Beach branch.

Project Name and Location:
IBM Southeast Employees Credit Union
1000 NW 17th Ave.
Delray Beach, FL 33445

Completion Date:
8/25/2016

Project Scope:
IBM Southeast Employees Credit Union was chartered in 1969 and serves over 72,000 members from 16 locations throughout Florida and Georgia. In 2009, IBM Southeast opened an office in Delray Beach, Florida that included a branch, drive-through, call center and mortgage and lending offices. 

As operations grew at the Delray Beach facility, IBM Southeast’s facility director noted higher than expected energy bills and an overall lack of control of their HVAC system. Turning to Hill York for help, he listed a variety of issues, including air constantly running at peak capacity and uncomfortable humidity levels throughout the building.

Hill York’s Energy Solutions Group conducted a detailed assessment of mechanical and control systems and began a series of critical upgrades to cut energy expenses and give IBM Southeast greater control over their indoor climate. Replacing an old air-cooled chiller with a new chilled water system was essential. But that was just a starting point for the improvements to come.

“We converted the branch from an outdated pneumatic building control system to a state-of-the-art Alerton energy management system (EMS),” explained Chris Grigsby, Hill York’s Controls Operations Manager. “It’s become the industry standard for maximizing building comfort, energy efficiency, and user operating flexibility.”

Drawing on experience as one of the fastest growing Alerton dealers, Hill York installed the Ascent Compass Solution, an open protocol BACnet solution. The platform provided a dynamic interface empowering IBM managers to remotely monitor and control indoor conditions from any standard Web browser and receive e-mail and text alerts when issues arise.

“Alerton’s DDC technologies use electronic sensors to evaluate inputs like temperature and humidity levels,” observed Grigsby. “It enables much higher accuracy with comfort control and gives operators the ability to monitor and change system operations instantly.”

Another key element of the energy management program was an upgrade of the building’s Variable Air Volume controls to incorporate Demand Control Ventilation (DCV). Instead of continuously ventilating the branch at a constant rate designed to accommodate the maximum number of occupants, DCV modulates the amount of outside air supplied to the building based on the actual number of people present.

“By reducing the amount of air that needs to be cooled, the DCV approach saves significant energy and improves humidity levels,” Grigsby pointed out.

Hill York’s cost saving solutions transformed an inefficient HVAC system that ran at full capacity all the time to one that greatly reduced facility cooling loads and energy use. The results have been nothing short of exceptional. The projected energy savings of $1,000 a month have in fact hovered around the $1,200 a month mark and the average relative humidity has improved dramatically.

For IBM Southeast Employee Credit Union’s Delray Beach branch, the Hill York-led conversion to an Alerton digital energy management system has provided the technology and user access to keep the cool air flowing at peak efficiency. And in steamy South Florida, less indoor humidity means a comfort level staff and customers can appreciate year-round.

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Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) in Florida

Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to look at the projects that need to be accomplished at your home and business. When making decisions on which projects you complete and how you are going to pay for them, don’t forget to look into clean energy financing as one of your options.

In the tri-county area of South Florida, we have the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program available to us. Through property-based financing, PACE Florida alleviates the financial hurdles facing owners wanting to make sustainable upgrades to their property. Below are the top 3 reasons why the PACE program might be for you.

Zero Cost Upfront: The upfront costs of sustainability projects like energy efficiency, renewable energy, or wind mitigation can be daunting and limiting. PACE was created to remove that upfront cost barrier and allow anyone to make positive changes to their businesses and homes. The private lender pays the initial cost of the projects, which is then repaid over a 5-25 year period as a line item on your property taxes. In order to qualify with Ygrene, one of the PACE program lenders, you need:

  • 10% equity in your home,
  • To be current on your mortgage payments,
  • Not currently be in bankruptcy, and
  • To have not been late on your property taxes in the last three years.

Hundreds of Projects: Selecting projects to tackle through PACE financing can be a difficult decision because there are so many possible improvements to choose from. Examples of qualifying projects are high efficiency air conditioners, kitchen appliances, and LED lighting as well as new roofing, hurricane impact windows, insulation, solar panels, and water efficient fixtures and landscaping.

More Savings: The most tangible benefits that come from completing a sustainability project through PACE are how easy they are to complete, they raise your property’s value, lower utility bills, and reduce your insurance costs. In some cases, the savings you receive from updating your home or business will more than make up the amount of the loan attached to your property taxes. Every month that you have new, more energy efficient equipment is more money to be used how you see fit. In addition, because these upgrades mitigate risk to your home or business, you can see reductions in your insurance.

There are many ways to fund green and energy efficient projects. Having the PACE program available to use in South Florida is one of the best ways to make investments into your property and your pocket book.  For more information visit one of the local PACE program lenders or the Florida PACE informational site.

Buildings ‘get smart’ to improve comfort, save money, and reduce energy use

Today’s economy is one run by consumers and participants having unlimited information at their fingertips at all times.  This on-demand economy has brought smart technology and data analytics into all facets of business today.  The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just released a report discussing how smart buildings upgrades are catching up to this new trend.  Among many other findings, they spoke to the energy saving potential that the South region of the United States has when it comes to smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for commercial buildings.

Making much more data and information available to a building operator is driving efficiency in large and small buildings all over the country.  Whereas a smart building with integrated systems can realize 30-50% savings, individual components can be added to small and medium businesses and save 5-15% with little money upfront.  HVAC technologies like smart thermostats, sensors, variable frequency drives, and cloud based energy information systems have huge potential for savings in Florida where HVAC use in commercial buildings accounts for over 50% of electricity consumption, which is significantly above the national average. A study referenced in the ACEEE report proved that rooftop package units installed with smart thermostat controls, multi-fan speeds, and demand control ventilation can save approximately 50% in electricity savings.

With the addition of the aforementioned smart controllers and sensors, real time data analytics can give visibility to a unit’s operating efficiency by the minute.  This advanced assessment of a building gives the operator an unprecedented look into run-time and efficiency so that nothing is wasted.  Hill York has been working with these new smart building solutions for more than 8 years with our Alerton and HYStat controls for large and small commercial buildings, respectively.  Seeing reports from the country’s leading energy efficiency minds further validates what Hill York has been advocating for years; smarter buildings make efficient buildings, which fuel smart businesses.

 

8 Ways to Leverage Your FPL Account

Some of the best resources to help businesses save money and energy are through the utility companies; and Florida has a shining example with Florida Power & Light (FPL).  Two reasons to take advantage of such programs are the energy savings and the fact that, as a ratepayer, you are helping fund the programs through fees on your utility bills. Since you are already paying for rebates, why not make sure that you reap the energy savings benefits? Below are the top 8 programs and rebates that you can implement in your business through Florida Power & Light.

Business Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) Program

Replace your existing A/C unit or chiller with a qualifying, high-efficiency system and receive a rebate check from FPL. In addition to your rebate savings, the new systems will be more energy efficient and save you money; it literally pays for itself.

Demand Control Ventilation (DCV)

Control your building’s ventilation based off of occupancy to save your business energy and improve indoor air quality at the same time. Installation of a DCV sensor allows your building to adjust the amount of fresh air you are letting in depending on the occupancy, making sure your building is as efficient and cost saving as possible.

Business Custom Incentives (BCI)

An organization or business can upgrade their business equipment to be more energy efficient and receive a check from FPL. Upgrades that save over 25 kWh and meets other requirements detailed here, will qualify for the check and save money.

Thermal Energy Storage (TES)

Storing energy at night relieves energy demand during the day and helps FPL maintain the grid so they incentivise this. Using a TES system also reduces the runtime of your systems, which increases their lifespan and efficiency. Hill York successfully implemented one of the largest ice storage facilities in the United States at Nova Southeastern University central energy plant.

Commercial Demand Reduction Program

By adding a load management device to HVAC systems, businesses can receive a monthly rebate. This device will, in the event of high demand times for the utility, turn your system off and on to help reduce the overall load on the energy grid.

On Call® Program

Similar to the Commercial Demand Reduction Program, the On Call program will occasionally shut off your HVAC system during peak months to reduce the load on the grid. You can save $2 per ton on systems that are enrolled.

Power Monitoring Service

When the power goes out, it can be costly for your business.  FPL helps you minimize that costly down-time by continually monitoring your business for any power interruptions through a small device that immediately notifies the utility. Check out the FPL’s website for several case studies.

Business Energy Evaluation Plan

An FPL “Energy Expert” can help customize an energy savings plan for your business’ specific needs. This energy evaluation will look at everything from your lighting systems to your HVAC to your building envelope in order to find a plan that will best fit your needs.

These are just some of the savings opportunities through FPL that enable you to invest in what’s really important to your business. Hill York has a dedicated personnel team that can facilitate these rebates and better help you save money, energy, and time.  In order to learn more about these programs or find out specifics about qualifications, please visit this brochure page or contact one of our knowledgeable Hill York Team members.

Slashing Energy Costs Through Building Controls Drives Strong Hill York Growth As Alerton Dealer

alerton-dealer-productsHelping Florida facility owners better manage their cooling related energy use has been a Hill York staple as a commercial HVAC mechanical contractor. Since becoming an Alerton dealer in 2014, that capability has found a fertile new channel for cutting energy consumption and boosting operating efficiency: the sale and implementation of building control systems.

Over the past year, Hill York has become one of the fastest growing Alerton dealers in the country. In Florida, it has risen among the ranks and is the largest Alerton service provider in South Florida’s tri-county region of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

According to Vice President of Building Solutions Rob Pulsifer, the growth in the controls market has evolved over the past six years as Hill York has carefully crafted its business model and perfected its energy service offerings. The more recent acceleration since teaming up with Alerton has created a relatively new market response that he is happy to perpetuate.

“Traditionally, any building controls business has come our way through energy projects or our existing client base that know and trust us as HVAC contractors,” Pulsifer observed. “We’ve now had project opportunities come to us strictly for our expertise as controls specialists. It’s a shift in perception that reflects what a great fit our relationship with Alerton has been.”

The alliance between long-time Florida A/C leader Hill York and building control systems pioneer Alerton is built on some solid common ground. Hill York’s energy services are a sophisticated mix of programs and technical specialties that help building owners more easily monitor and manage their cooling efficiency.

Alerton, meanwhile, has spearheaded advances in user-friendly building systems, such as their BACnet communications protocol that enables backwards compatibility to seamlessly integrate older systems with the newest building automation technology. More recently, they created the Ascent Compass Software, a controls platform that provides a dynamic interface empowering managers to monitor and control their facilities from anywhere, at any time.

Whether it’s their continued leadership role in providing integrated open communication control systems or a shared focus on developing new solutions for critical facilities, there’s one thing that building managers can expect from a Hill York – Alerton collaboration going forward. There will be plenty of comfort, operating flexibility and energy savings at their command.

Founded in 1981, Alerton is a pioneer and industry leader in providing building control systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment for all types and sizes of buildings. They have led the way in developing products based on a standard open communication protocol to give facility owners and managers flexibility in their building solutions. For more information, visit www.alerton.com.

A full-service commercial air conditioning company, Hill York provides energy efficient solutions for the installation, maintenance, and repair of a wide range of heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Founded in 1936, the company serves the state of Florida. For more information, visit www.hillyork.com.

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Largest Energy Efficiency Standards in History – Part 1

Big Moves For Efficiency

As I have said in previous posts, energy efficiency manifests itself commercially in two ways: market advantage or federal standards. December ended up being a big month for the forwarding of energy efficiency standards under the Obama Administration. The two, newly implemented standards will save consumers approximately $168.1 billion dollars on utility bills over the next 30 years. This three-part blog will explore the implications of each of these monumental standards as well as the political and industrial ramifications.

Just days after the Paris agreement, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the end result of negotiations between industry leaders and the federal government for commercial efficiency. The effort exerted by this diverse group of stakeholders resulted in new commercial air conditioning and furnace standards that supported current market momentum and future innovation. The energy efficiency standards, which will occur in two stages, are aimed at low-rise commercial buildings such as small offices, restaurants, big-box stores, and schools. Commercial air conditioners cool about half the commercial space in the nation according to the Department of Energy.

The Standard

The standard was finalised by 17 stakeholders, including utilities, efficiency organisations, and major HVAC contractors and manufacturers. The first phase of the standard commences in 2018 with a 13% improvement on efficiency. Then, in 2023, an additional 15% increase is required for commercial units. Over the next 30 years of sales, the result will be more than twice the kWh savings than any previous Department of Energy efficiency standard.

Quality Indoor Air Improves Worker Efficiency

Quality indoor air improves worker efficiency and, as we saw with the Express Scripts project, improving working conditions saves money and energy while increasing worker productivity. Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) published a study that examined the impact of quality indoor air on cognitive functions with heavy links back to workforce efficiency.

The participants were placed into controlled spaces that simulated conventional, green, and green+ conditions. EHP utilized nine different cognitive functionalities to test how the participants worked in the three spaces.

• Basic activity level (the ability to make decisions at all times)
• Applied activity level (the ability to make decisions geared towards overall goals)
• Focused activity level (the ability to pay attention to situations at hand)
• Crisis response (the ability to plan and stay prepared/strategize in emergency conditions)
• Information seeking (the ability to gather info as required from different sources)
• Information usage (the ability to use provided and gathered info towards goals)
• Breadth of Approach (the ability to make decisions along multiple dimensions and use a variety of options to obtain goals)
• Strategy (a complex thinking parameter, reflecting the ability to use well-integrated solutions)

The results revealed that, on average, cognitive scores were 61% higher in green spaces and 101% higher in green+ spaces when compared to the conventional space. The benefits beyond energy efficiency should also be taken into account when making your next equipment upgrade.