Efficiency workshop helps Bloomington community with building management

By Rick Seltzer
331-4243 | rseltzer@heraldt.com
June 6, 2013

It was an innocuous enough squiggly line at first glance: A graph of a building’s electricity use splashed across screens at Bloomington’s City Hall Wednesday.

Innocuous enough, that is, until a second look revealed electricity consumption spiking at midnight.

“What this shows is something was very wrong at Twin Lakes Recreation Center,” said Jacqui Bauer, the city’s sustainability coordinator. “What we determined based on this dashboard data was that our mechanical systems were 12 hours off.”

Bloomington discovered the problem at Twin Lakes — one of the city’s biggest users of electricity and gas — about a year ago, according to Bauer. It fixed the problem, but Bauer used the incident to show the power of tracking facilities’ operations.

Such data tracking was the central theme of an Efficient Facilities workshop the city hosted Wednesday along with Ivy Tech Community College. The workshop was aimed at those who own or manage buildings.

“It’s a type of profession without a lot of social aspects built into it,” Bauer said. “They all know so much, and letting them share things with each other is a great opportunity.”

The workshop drew a range of attendees. They included representatives from CFC Properties, Indiana University, Ivy Tech, the Bloomington firm Sustainability Dashboard LLC, Monroe County, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington and the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Some graduates of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs also attended.

Data tracking options range from monthly utility tracking to larger-scale options including integrated software and hardware systems, attendees heard. Looking at data can lead companies and organizations to save energy, money and staff time, according to Bauer.

Facility managers who look at data can detect when problems occur, said Barry Collins, Bloomington’s facilities management coordinator. For instance, a spike in water use can demonstrate a leaking pipe or stuck-open valve.

Data tracking can also help managers find the most effective ways to make their buildings more efficient, Collins said.

“Sit down and look at your facility before trying to change things,” he said. “Know what your facility can do.”

Wednesday’s facilities workshop wasn’t the first in Bloomington — smaller meetings have been taking place quarterly. But this week’s get-together, which drew about 20 people, was the largest in a year, according to Bauer.

Ivy Tech Corporate College, which focuses on professional education and development, was looking for feedback from roundtable attendees. It wants to know types of training that would be useful for facilities managers, according to Katrinka Schroeder, corporate college account executive in Bloomington.

“The corporate college is all about employing skills to make companies more productive,” she said. “And that’s what we’re doing here.”

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2013

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.