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Archive for October 28, 2014

Education and the Cloud

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There’s no doubt that cloud-based software packages are becoming more common and affordable. School districts can utilize the real-time data provided by the cloud to reduce business complexity, improve employee productivity, and create learning opportunities for students.

Recently, Harvard Business Review (HBR) released a study correlating the early adoption of new technologies with better business outcomes. According to HBR, business agility is the primary advantage of cloud based technology. The survey reported that:

  • Almost 75% of executives say the cloud will reduce business complexity
  • 61% of respondents say it will increase employee productivity
  • 33% say that the cloud creates a better delivery of internal resources
  • 31% report that it allows new ways for employees to work, connect, and collaborate

One example of increasing business agility can be seen in the facilities management arena. Bruner Corporation recently executed an energy conservation and renovation project with a local school district, Dublin City Schools. They chose to implement a cloud-based software, JadeTrack, to help them manage their utility data and consolidate that data to one centralized location.Keeping the data in the cloud maintained information security, yet also made the data more accessible to appropriate parties. This reduced business complexity by increasing transparency, the constant flow of data, and communication to multiple groups. Also, the facilities management team was able to leverage this tool to evaluate their new mechanical and lighting systems. The real-time data was more accurate and consistent, making them more productive.

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By using cloud based software your information is available with the tap of a finger—on your phone, tablet, laptop and home computer. Beyond convenience, this accessibility allows for unique educational opportunities. On the Dublin project, high school science students were able to use the data as part of their curriculum.

Students monitored a 512 gallon hot water tank powered by a solar panel on the school’s roof. The students were given access to the cloud and pulled data to support conclusions on energy savings vs. utility costs, as well as report on the school’s progress towards its energy savings goal.

Having a cloud-based software platform enabled Bruner Corporation and JadeTrack to easily provide current information to the students as needed. This project yielded an unexpected educational resource that students can use later in life, potentially when they buy their first home.

HBR states that organizations “need to be more adaptive and make innovation part of their culture. The whole innovation cycle—from generating new ideas to refining and implementing the best—has to be a continual process that taps into an ecosystem of employees, partners, customers, and suppliers.” Change is hard, but as cloud-based technology becomes more available and cost-effective it seems like a path worth wondering.

For more information about Bruner Corporation, JadeTrack, and how this cloud-based software might be of use in your district, please email info@brunercorp.com.

Continuing Education Vital to Team Chemistry

Placing a high value on continuing education not only improves your education, but also cultivates a strong professional network rooted in collaboration. All industries have specific designations to showcase professional credentials. For example, doctors have Ph.D, architects have AIA, educators have Ed.D and engineers have LEED. These letters not only indicate a specific wealth of knowledge, but also give insight into an individual’s values.

Designations indicate that the person is driven and motivated to learn new things. On any project it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people that support the team effort. Team chemistry is integral to success, not to mention piece of mind.

In the energy services realm, solution providers have the CEM designation, which translates to Certified Energy Manager. This designation is accredited through the national Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and is a widely recognized energy management certification. “The CEM is being requested more and more by building owners,” said Stephanie Drenten, CEM.

Stephanie CEM

“The designation shows that you have an extensive knowledge of energy management and a comprehensive understanding of various types of systems.” Drenten received her CEM certification this year after being an Energy Manager in Training (EMIT) until she reached the required years of experience necessary to achieve the CEM.

Drenten explained that in our energy conscious society there are many professionals out there selling energy related projects, but they may not fully understand the ramifications of the improvements they suggest. The CEM provides energy professionals with an enhanced knowledge of a building’s infrastructure: the different types of systems in any given building, the functionality and intermingling of those systems, and where true energy costs are originating. It helps energy professionals continue to learn and grow in their field.

The CEM also helps energy professionals learn the nuances associated with various funding options. It’s no secret that energy conservation projects are expensive, but it helps that our federal and state governments have embraced the need for change. In May 2008, Ohio enacted clean energy legislation that mandates that utility giants reduce consumption by 22% by 2025. Because of this commitment to energy efficiency there are several funding options out there to help finance an energy project—not to mention ample rebate dollars available for the taking. CEMs are well versed on clean energy policy and pockets of funding, as well as ways to incorporate renewable energy into projects.

While continuing education is vital to success in all professional areas, it is critical when putting together a collaborative team. Constant learning and the expansion of your skills only makes you more efficient and effective. Sharing your challenges, learnings, and knowledge with others builds a powerful network rooted in collaboration—and that is the environment where the best projects thrive.