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Education and the Cloud

JT-Scenes

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.

 

Award Winning Safety

On March 19, 2014, Bruner Corporation was recognized by the Safety Council of Greater Columbus for safety achievement by receiving:SCGC_color-medium

  • 100% Award one year without a lost-time accident
  • Special Award – over a million hours without a lost-time accident! 

At the award banquet this year, former Buckeye Maurice Clarett spoke to the safety driven audience about perseverance and the power of change. His message was “It’s never too late to change the direction of your life.” With safety as such a critical component of the construction process, this program reminded the audience of how easy it is to be led astray. Work must be performed in a safe manner to eliminate injury and illness to our employees, our customers and their employees, and the public.

Bruner regards safety as an integral part of our culture and maintains an award winning safety program. We are proud to say that our firm is  consistently recognized for both safety achievement and safety innovation in the construction industry.

In addition to the awards listed above, Bruner also received a Safety Achievement award and a Safety Innovation award from the Builder’s Exchange of Central Ohio this year. The Safety Achievement award is for outstanding injury and illness statistics and the Safety Innovation award is for companies that have implemented unique and exciting practices to increase safety awareness or solve a particular safety challenge. 

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Banger Tool

For Bruner’s Innovation award, Mark Carlisle, Senior Project Manager, invented a tool that reduces strain on a worker while installing bangers. This tool stands 3.5 ft. tall and was used to install over 20,000 bangers on a new hospital tower.

By the old process, workers repeatedly bend over with their back hunched to physically hold the banger and use a hammer for attachment. The workers’ ergonomic risk is tremendous and often can result in pulling or straining back muscles from overuse. Fingers and hands are also at risk for laceration and crushed-by injuries.

This new tool allows the worker to perform the operation standing upright, and eliminates the need to physically hold the banger and use a hammer. The physical strength required to install the bangers is significantly less and the ergonomic strain, risk of pulled muscles and struck-by hazards are eliminated.

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Innovations such as these support Clarett’s message. There are always new and exciting innovations out there to heighten safety. Bruner is proud to a leader in this effort and will always look for more ways to provide a safer job site experience.

Keepin’ it GREEN

You’ve heard of, “Keeping up with the Joneses,” right? Or maybe you’ve heard of the more modern, “Keeping up with the Kardashians?” In its basic form, the phrase refers to the natural process of comparing yourself to others. Coined during the post WWII consumerism explosion, the phrase referred to buying things to be viewed as more financially secure than your neighbors. We wanted to, “Keep up with the Joneses,” because they had everything.

So, what does this have to do with being “green”?

By using this theory, we can challenge organizations to lower energy consumption. Just last month, Bruner was awarded 2nd place for its energy conservation program. Turns out, we saved our clients 2.9 GWH of energy in 2013. This energy savings puts us in the top 10% when compared to other energy contractors in the area. Through this Business Incentives program, AEP Ohio encourages businesses to compete with each other for the most energy savings, which in turn helps clients/consumers reduce operating costs and helps reduce consumption overall.

Two weeks ago, Bruner’s Energy Engineer, Stephanie Drenten spoke to students at The Ohio State University about this topic and phenomenon. As a guest lecturer for the College of Engineering’s Sustainability Seminar course, Drenten spoke about creating a sustainable world by conserving energy. She started the conversation by sharing global statistics on energy consumption from the Energy Information Administration, which states that global energy consumption will increase 56% by 2040.

Now, think of the Joneses.

In our world today, we have developed nations and developing nations. The developed nations continue to use the majority of energy resources available, while the developing nations, or third-world, is left behind. These nations are trying to keep up with modern niceties. Drenten explained that as they develop, the energy needs of these nations will skyrocket. The world will be consuming more energy than it can produce. We might need more planets to accommodate the growing population and its energy demands1.

In lieu of packing up our belongings and heading to Mars, Drenten shared a different idea. Why don’t we use behavioral science to urge others to keep up with the green movement? In the TED Talks video “How Behavioral Science Can Lower Your Energy Bill” Alex Laskey, founder/president of Opower, uses this “Keeping up with Joneses” technique to save utility customers more than $250 million and 2 terawatt hours (Twh) of energy in one year—enough to power two moderately sized cities! To do this, he told utility users how they were matching up when compared to their neighbors, in terms of energy consumption.

World UsageThere’s nothing better than a little friendly competition. Laskey said, “If something is inconvenient, even if we believe in it, moral suasion, financial incentives, don’t do much to move us — but social pressure, that’s powerful stuff.” By using this social mindset energy conservation efforts will be more effective. Drenten shared metrics comparing the United States to its neighbors. In the last twelve years, the United States has dropped energy consumption by 18%, but it’s no match for Germany and France, each of which use about 45% less energy per capita than the United States.

After sharing that statistic, Drenten challenged the engineering students to identify solutions for this growing energy problem and they had great ideas on how to bridge the gap. Some of the ideas included cutting oil consumption, limiting the transportation and use of coal, more incentives for residential energy reduction, and recycling efforts. “It was refreshing to see the students so engaged and empowered,” said Drenten.

Now the real question: Do you use more energy than your neighbor?

Savings Clients 2.5 GWH

Bruner Corporation has earned the prestigious second place award from AEP Ohio’s Energy Efficiency Program. The coveted energy program rewards companies that provide the most energy savings for their customers throughout the year in 2013. Bruner was in AEP’s top 10% of its solution provider network and recognized as a platinum solutions provider for earning their customers over 2.5 GWH of electricity savings last year. Bruner is a proud participant of this energy program provided by AEP Ohio, which provides cash incentives to help clients purchase and install energy efficient equipment. Incentives are available for common commercial and industrial measures including lighting, HVAC, motors and drives, refrigeration and food preparation and storage equipment.  AEP has saved 2280 GWH of electricity through their energy efficiency program since 2009, enough energy to run 190,000 homes for 10 years!

Much of Bruner’s success with AEP Ohio’s energy efficiency program is due, in large part, to a five year project with Dublin City Schools. Since 2009, Dublin City Schools has saved 8,504,257 kWh in electricity and earned $288,001 in incentives from AEP Ohio. This was done so by replacing inefficient lights and steam boilers, installing a multitude of controls (lighting, HVAC, vending, etc.) implementing a district-wide energy management system and much more.