Wolgast Blog

Your Building Envelope’s Role in Reducing Energy Costs

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Nov 12, 2019 @ 09:54 AM

BldgEnv-1Keeping your building’s protective barrier, a.k.a. its envelope, intact, leak free, and in good repair is a great way to avoid spending your hard earned profits on energy costs.  The envelope entails any part of your building structure that keeps outside elements from coming inside when closed.  Otherwise, your roof, EIFS, windows, doors, walls, and even floors can leak and make your HVAC work harder, or worse let water leaks damage equipment or cause microbial growth.

Michigan’s temperate climate brings its own stresses on building materials including the seasonal flux in temperature.  Expanding and contracting flashing can create holes in your roof where the nails have been used to keep sheeting in place or cracks in caulking around windows.  Additionally, rain and wind can cause erosion where different types of materials are connected and hail can poke holes in roofing or siding, as a few examples.  When these types of leaks happen, your AC has to work harder in the summer to cool your office and regulate the humidity, while in the winter it also works harder to warm up the space and add necessary moisture for comfort.  Furthermore, rain leaks can do major damage to your ceiling, your structure, or result in microbial growth which can create headaches, allergies, or asthma to occur in building occupants.  Mold that is hidden or has a source that isn’t completely fixed is costly for a building owners in the long run.  The quality of air your staff breathes or the exposure from outside elements can affect their health and, in turn, their attendance.

In conclusion, it’s important to check the caulk around your building exterior annually for cracks.  Caulk may have a 5 year life cycle, but there are too many variables that can cause ware and tare.  Hire a reputable caulking company to fix any caulking leaks.  Also check your roof and roof flashings annually for any visual damage that could lead to leaks.  Or if you’re experiencing a leak, contact a reputable roofer who will ensure that leaks are fixed to find and eliminate microbial growth.  Should you have mold or be concerned about mold, or any structural issues, call Wolgast.  Our Restoration and Construction Teams will be able to help you get your office back to a leak free status to keep your energy costs down.

Tags: Energy Savings, Good for Business

Set Your School to “Snow Day” with the Push of a Button

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Sep 23, 2019 @ 02:00 PM

phonepress3-1School Districts waste energy when building systems run while school isn’t in session, and face additional security threats, too.  The good news is that schools are estimated to be able to save considerable energy costs by adding building system controls and sensors for real-time control.  By automating school buildings with sensors and smart controls, the EPA says “schools and school districts can lower their operating costs by up to 30%.  Existing schools can save 25% of operating costs by implementing some basic efficiency measures, occupant education, and engagement programs.”1 Additionally, installing integrating security systems to ensure all doors are locked and surveillance or movement sensors are operating after hours provides peace of mind when no one is in the building.

Building automation can be integrated into new and existing buildings to control all systems from your laptop or a smartphone.  This is known as the Internet of Things (IoT), and allows for continual monitoring and alerts to be sent to facility managers if there’s a problem.  HVAC, lighting, CO2, water pressure, and access can all be monitored and adjusted or programmed as the usage of the building changes at varying times of day.

Besides the cost saving benefits of being automated and having the controls at your fingertips, per say, is that when schools have a Snow Day, those in charge of the building can press a “Snow Day” button on their phone or laptop and go into a mode that will lessen lighting, heat and even lock the access doors within the building from the comfort of their home, or where ever they are.  Additionally, sensors can notify you if there’s movement within the building for safety reasons.

Commercial Contractor, Wolgast Corporation, is able to work with School Districts throughout Michigan, where Snow Days and Freezing Days have been calling off school plenty the past few years.  This alone could save significantly on Schools’ energy costs.  Additionally, we are Consumers Energy and DTE Trade Allies, helping School Districts with electric and gas efficiency.  Consumers Energy offers incentives for those who reduce their usage and our Project Managers help their school clients to acquire those incentives through proper paper work.

Honeywell, an Energy Management Company, works with businesses and schools to measure their energy usage, configure alarms and notifications based on preset thresholds, incorporate the IoT, and provide access control and surveillance (among many other things).  In their news article, “Back to School : How School Buildings Can Positively Impact Student Achievement”, Honeywell features their work helping “schools enable more comfortable and productive environment through innovative energy solutions, which have resulted in approximately $270 Million of guaranteed savings for K-12 Schools in the U.S. and Canada since 2013,” a three year duration at the time of the article.Through their technology, Wolgast can integrate the functions necessary to control a building’s systems in real-time, and even create the “Snow Day” setting for your facility manager to easily maintain efficiency and safety when there’s no one in the building.  As well as stay on top of the controls year round from their computer.

Please contact us to find out more information about this opportunity – 800-WOLGAST.

1 United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Appendix A: Model Program for the State School Environmental Health Guidelines”.  https://www.epa.gov/schools/appendix-model-program-state-school-environmental-health-guidelines

2 Timmerman, Jessie. “Back to School: How School Buildings Can Positively Impact Student Achievement.” Honeywell, 29 Aug. 2016, https://www.honeywell.com/en-us/newsroom/news/2016/08/back-to-school-how-school-buildings-can-positively-impact-student-achievement

 

Tags: Schools, Energy Savings

Repurpose Your Commercial Office to Be More Modern

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 @ 11:38 AM

What Ideas Will Work for You?

Repurpose-1Appearance is one of the triggers that leads to remodeling, but isn’t the only good reason to remodel.  Other reasons like efficiency, reorganizing unused space, right-sizing, and new technology can make a big difference in attracting or retaining talent, saving money and improving productivity.  Furthermore, modern designs that are created with goals of safety, appearance, efficiency, and increased focus or productivity can help you to make your space more useful for staff and enticing to clients.

I did an image search on Google for “Modern Office Design” and what I saw was a lot of glass walls, greys/brown/white shades combined with bright accent colors, short cubicles or no cubicles, wood floors, slat wood paneling, high ceilings, natural light, recreational areas, conference rooms and white boards.  What was missing was fluorescent lighting, storage, and surprisingly, privacy. 

Open floorplans with no offices and high ceilings have become popular for some businesses, especially for those in urban areas where real estate is costly and space is limited.  More staff members can be fitted with a desk when there are no walls involved, but the productivity results are mixed.  If you’ve been wondering, any operation that relies on phone calls or focus for creativity (to name two) doesn’t work well with open floorplans or high ceilings.  Also, the original goal of collaboration has fallen short among those using the open concept due to the introduction of texting and private messaging via social media.1  Instead of collaboration, employees are seeking more privacy and turning to messaging instead of open collaboration, according to researchers in “New Harvard Study: Your Open-Plan Office is Making Your Team Less Collaborative”.  They were able to determine that “Face-to-Face” collaboration decreased by 70% while email and messaging formats increased1

So, what can you do to address the current needs of your future work force and clients?  Whether you plan to have less employees or expand your staff, right-sizing your space to make it more comfortable or to accommodate new equipment can lead to increased productivity as better work flows are streamlined.  Extra space in your building can be repurposed to be a quiet area away from phones and computers, or additional meeting space for focused collaboration.  Additionally, this area can be automated so that lighting and heat controls are adjusted to actual use and to save money on energy costs.

In fact, incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT), or building automation of systems is good to incorporate during an office remodel.  Your office temperature, access control, lighting, and other systems can be controlled from your desktop, laptop, or even smartphone.  Incorporating natural light has also proven to improve morale and cut costs on lighting bills.

We know that the bottom-line is how much more revenue will a remodel bring to the business, or the return on investment.  We can’t tell you exactly how much, but considerations to make include the impact on attracting or retaining talent, the energy cost savings, increased productivity through well thought redesign based on work flows and repurposing unused space, peace of mind from access control, and attracting clients or prospects who are interested in seeing your newly remodeled space.

Wolgast can design your new floorplan and oversee the construction of your remodel, or new build if you prefer.  We will be the single-source of your project applying our building expertise, while you focus on the operation of your business.

1https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/new-harvard-study-you-open-plan-office-is-making-your-team-less-collaborative.html

Tags: Design/Build, Energy Savings, Good for Business, Remodel

Building Remodel for Energy & Money Savings

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 @ 11:29 AM

There aren’t many businesses that remodel every six years, so chances are that if you’re currently ready for an update, you have the potential to save a considerable amount of money by investing in modern, energy efficient products and installations. 

NBS-EnergyWith 29% of your operating expense being spent on utilities1, the energy efficient equipment/products that have become available over the last six years or less can make a big difference.  Additionally, there are incentives for making these changes.  We have helped several school clients lower their energy expense and also secure incentive money back.  As a Consumer Energy Business Solution Trade Ally, we’ve achieved 3rd place in the past for natural gas savings for Consumers Energy school customers and helped Bullock Creek Schools maximize their incentive of more than $125,000 to offset the cost of their new heat-conserving roof, energy efficient lightbulbs and other alterations.

It’s good to be aware that some energy savings are now mandated by LARA in the State of Michigan when you build new or remodel (see our blog: Michigan Energy Code).  However, there are varying degrees ($$) of implementations to include in your remodel plans that could save more money for your business in the long run.  For instance, office equipment and other mechanical products have become increasingly more efficient even within recent years.  Building systems and materials such as water heaters, HVAC systems, programmable thermostats, windows, insulation applications, LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and toilets are all more efficient than they were in the past 10 years.

Additionally, during your remodel or new build, adding more natural light reduces the need for full time lights, which according to US Energy Information Administration can be more than 17% of utility costs for commercial buildings who haven’t converted to LED.2  Bigger windows, skylights, or light transmitting panels are great for getting the most natural light into an interior space.  Your architect will have further tricks for enhancing natural light, as well.

If you aren’t quite ready for a remodel right now, but are interested in tweaking your building systems to save on energy costs, most energy companies are currently offering free assessments to guide you to save on what you already have in place.  Contact your energy company for a complimentary report.

However, if you are interested in remodeling or building new, Wolgast is ready and capable to be your design and construction partner to achieve these energy and cost saving applications.  Call us today for more information.

1E Source Customer Direct, “Managing Energy Costs in Office Buildings”

2 U.S. Energy Information Administration, www.eia.gov, “Trends in Lighting in Commercial Buildings”, 5/17/17

Tags: Design/Build, Energy Savings, Good for Business, Remodel

Environmental Choices That Should Save Money for Your Office

Posted by Cory Anderson on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 @ 09:01 AM
Energy Savings for OfficesYou may or may not have ever thought about what your company could do to save the environment, but I bet that you’ve thought a lot about how your company can cut costs.  The Florida Green Building Coalitionhas a list of simple actions that a company can take to save energy and water and just be a little greener in general.  Below are highlights from that list:

Get Educated – designate a staff member to do research or subscribe to a newsletter.

Make a Visible Commitment – create a mission statement about green practices and post it for your staff and on your website.

Initiate a Recycling Program – place boxes to collect paper goods and find a place to donate your furniture and other reusable materials.

Choose Office Supplies Wisely – look for environmentally friendly office supplies and choose to buy them when available.

Incorporate Green Practices – always print 2-sided, use electronic storage whenever possible, turn off lights when leaving a room, replace paper and foam cups with real plates and cups.

Upgrade to Green Products - Replace light and water fixtures with more efficient styles and install programmable thermostat

Turn off All Office Equipment at the end of the day and on weekends

These are all excellent tips if you’re looking to get your sustainability program started. 

One of the tips that I’d like to discuss further based on our own experience is making green upgrades to a building.  Wolgast Development has been installing automated building controls to more efficiently control our environment and access all office systems from one central location.  Additionally, they’ve installed timed light sensors throughout the building, so that lights automatically turn on only when they’re being used and off when they aren’t.  Furthermore, Wolgast Corporation has been using electronic filing systems over the past few years and has saved significantly on space in our storage warehouse by eliminating the need for storing boxes of documents.  And, for the most part, it’s all at our fingertips if we need it rather than going to the warehouse to find what we need.  What did we do with all that paper?  We recycled it and continue to do so when necessary.

Wolgast Corporation would also like to announce that we’re a Certified Energy Star Partner and  we have four LEED APs on staff who have achieved LEED Silver status on three projects over the past year alone.  They can serve all of your sustainable building project needs.  Please contact us if you need help or have questions about any of the items discussed in this blog.

 

See Our LEED Projects

Tags: Professional General Contractor, Energy Savings, Good for Business

The Value of LEED© Certification for Medical Offices

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jun 18, 2012 @ 10:07 AM

Determining If the Cost Will Be Offset by the Benefits

The breakdown of advantages vs. disadvantages for LEED© certifying your medical office is easy – it’s energy cost savings, environmental responsibility, plus marketing position (to name a few) vs. cost. 

LEED PointsWhile it’s quite hard to pinpoint what the additional cost truly is over traditional construction, a quick internet search indicates that building owners could pay an additional 0-15% for a sustainable building.  The additional cost depends primarily on the level of certification you’d like to achieve because the higher the level of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) point rating system the more green materials and equipment you need, which usually have an elevated cost.  There are some points that have no cost, like having a bus stop near your building (6 points), and there are others, like installing a geothermal system (1-7 points) that adds considerable cost.  These are both options on a list of points available to achieve your preferred level of certification whether it’s certified, silver, gold or platinum with platinum requiring the most points. 

The advantages are more concrete to determine.  For instance, there are marketing opportunities and a general buzz associated with having a LEED© certified building and it can attract patients who are interested in green building or sustainability.  Also, since most buildings (medical offices included) carry their highest energy costs from space heating/cooling and lighting, the use of efficient equipment can save significant costs over the life of a building (1-19+ points).  The final benefit that I’ll discuss here is the use of natural light (1 point).  Natural light not only improves mood and general well being of the doctor, staff and patients, but it also improves vision (less eye strain), productivity of staff, and offers health benefits all on its own – definitely an important feature in a medical space.

You may have heard that the USGBC has published a LEED© for Healthcare rating system, specifically for hospitals and other medical facilities to achieve LEED© while addressing stringent healthcare industry regulations.  This new rating system may require more prerequisites than you need to prepare your medical office.  I say this because it’s geared more to a hospital’s 24 hour operation and indoor environmental quality associated with chemicals used on the premises.  It would likely be less expensive for a medical office to use the LEED© for New Building or LEED© for Existing Buildings: Operation & Maintenance.

If you are interested in pursuing it, Wolgast has a team of LEED© Associated Professionals (LEED© APs) on staff and they’ve been trained to help you review the rating systems and develop a list of points that will suit you best as well as design and construct the building.  Contact Dr. Michael Shepard for more information at mshepard@wolgast.com or 989-790-9120.

Sources used: 

www.usgbc.org

http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, Energy Savings, the Wolgast Way