Interview with Greg Smith of KCLS

Shared by Seattle Business Magazine

What happens when you have 48 buildings to manage, all with their own specific challenges and all under constraints of a single budget? King County Library System (KCLS) knew there had to be a better way of managing their buildings.

So how were they able to shift their building maintenance from reactive to proactive, and streamline their controls into a single system to manage each buildings’ unique needs?  We asked Greg Smith, Director of Facilities, to learn more about the impact of HVAC controls for KCLS.

Why the need for a single source building controls system?

In years past, KCLS had multiple control systems throughout our portfolio. Our service provider, MacDonald-Miller, came up with a plan to upgrade our multiple systems types by upgrading to an open-sourced, web-based system, which would give us the ability to remotely monitor and control each site individually from a system-wide holistic standpoint. 

With the web-based controls operating throughout the system, I can control buildings while sitting at my desk. Before, I would get a complaint and then have to call our service team to respond by driving to the building to correct the issue. Now, a branch calls in with a temperature issue or some other HVAC complaint, and I am able to log in and make adjustments in real time. There is a specific sequence of operations custom coded for each building and there’s a building expert on the backend who has engineered the dashboard and is able to adjust the system whenever needed.  

What is the benefit to your customers?

We’re able to manage customer concerns almost before they occur.  

Was energy monitoring a factor?

Energy efficiency is increasingly high priority within the facilities of the KCLS. We wanted a way to benchmark, audit, and reduce utility consumption. Because this is a major goal, we chose to implement a software platform that allows us to create energy baseline metrics for each building. This tool gives us a way to measure the energy performance for our entire portfolio in real-time. 

Energy monitory is better for building performance, and it’s better for our bottom line. We see cost reduction through energy savings. It saves KCLS money directly by reducing energy consumption, improving performance, and saving time and resources. 

In addition to those important savings, there is another critical savings factor—greenhouse gases. We’re lowering our carbon footprint and doing our part to improve the environment.

What are the benefits that you see?

As one of the busiest library systems in the country, having a control system in place that meets our extraordinary standards of excellence (while lowering our operating costs) sets us apart.  

Having the right system allows our staff to be focused on KCLS activities, instead of responding to emergencies. Our service provider is proactive, so we very seldom have to engage our staff in mechanical-related issues. Having a dedicated mechanical contractor with a plan who is forward thinking, able to utilize technology, and look out for our interests, is almost unmeasurable.

If you could go back, what would you do differently?

I wish we would have done this sooner.

Watch controls in action here: http://macmiller.com/video/building-controls/

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