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Strategic Project Management in a Construction World

The Columbus chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) hosted Senior Project Manager, Evan Williams, at its August monthly meeting in German Village.

The meeting, held at Lindey’s, had great attendance and participation from NAWIC Columbus associates and other members of the A/E/C community. There were also quite a few Bruner guests in the crowd, in support of their friend and coworker, as Williams discussed strategic project management.

Throughout the presentation, he emphasized the importance of using strategy in the project management process and shared many insights on how to be successful from a project’s start to its finish. Williams explained that by focusing on strategy before the project, in what he calls the “Critical Strategic Zone,” it helps ensure success. Activities necessary during this zone include: conceptual analysis, engineering and design, site logistics planning, schedule development, pre-construction planning, early procurement, resource allocation and job cost setup.

Williams explained how having all of these steps completed and organized at the beginning of the project helps keep total project cost down—which always makes for a happy customer.  After all, knowing what will make the customer happy and providing it to them will really make you stand out from the crowd.

Williams emphasized the crucial power of communication between all members of the project team—even once the project and close-out activities are completed. He reminded the audience that the Project Manager’s final client impression occurs during the close-out activities. Past performance on jobs is one of the best sellers of potential new jobs. There were multiple questions and comments when the presentation was concluded, leaving the NAWIC members truly appreciative of all he had to share. For more information on the presentation, please leave a comment below or reach out to us via our website or social media channels.

NAWIC has been empowering women in the construction industry for over 50 years. Monthly meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month at various restaurants in the Columbus area. Along with its monthly events, NAWIC Columbus believes in serving its community. NAWIC sponsors an annual scholarship supporting a student studying in a construction related field and do various other volunteer activities nationwide. Bruner Corporation is proud to be a partner of NAWIC and support this great organization. If you’re interested in becoming a member or contributor of NAWIC Columbus, please visit www.nawiccolumbus.org.

Employee Spotlight: Dan Spurgeon

Dan Spurgeon is Bruner’s Service Operations Manager.

“I love the people I work with and I really enjoy learning from them,” he said when asked about his favorite part of the job. For the past ten years, Dan has been working with the Bruner service group ensuring that customers experience the best we have to offer.

When Dan is not at Bruner, he enjoys spending time with his family, coaching baseball, and picking up projects. Whether those projects are related to his car or something around the house, he likes to keep busy. Dan also keeps busy by participating in an Elvis tribute band and original rock bands around Columbus. The Bruner team is happy to have such a talented musician and family-man around the office.

Dan’s Favorites:

Food: Toss up between a PB&J sandwich and Gatto’s pizza and salad
Sports Team: Cincinnati Reds and the Buckeyes (basketball/football)
Vacation Spot: Maui or the mountains of Vermont
Color: Green
Day of the Week: Fridays
Season: Whichever one is next—he likes them all… for a while
Holiday: Christmas is great with kids

Bruner Achieves National Designation for Energy-Saving Excellence

ROCKVILLE, MD – The Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) announced that Bruner has been awarded the MSCA GreenSTAR designation, which recognizes qualified contractors who have met stringent guidelines for offering energy-saving solutions to their customers. MSCA is the nation’s leading trade association for air conditioning, heating and refrigeration contractors with over 1,400 members across the United States and Canada.

MSCA GreenSTAR was created by MSCA to recognize mechanical service contractors who have developed the skills and expertise necessary to deliver energy-efficient, cost-effective indoor environmental solutions to their customers. MSCA has been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its leadership and stewardship of sustainable practices in the HVACR industry.

According to Barbara Dolim, MSCA Executive Director, MSCA GreenSTAR helps MSCA members demonstrate their commitment to enhancing energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.  “By attaining MSCA GreenSTAR status, Bruner has demonstrated their dedication to environmental issues by becoming their customers’ true energy solution partner and promoting sustainability throughout their entire organization. We congratulate Bruner as a leader in sustainable service.”

“We’re very proud of our MSCA GreenSTAR status,” said Eric Kuhns, VP of Sales and Marketing, Energy Solutions for Bruner. “MSCA GreenSTAR provides our customers with the knowledge and satisfaction that they are working with a company that has been recognized nationally for our expertise and skills in providing energy and cost-saving products and services.”

For more information about the MSCA GreenSTAR, contact MSCA Executive Director Barbara Dolim at bdolim@mcaa.org, or 301-869-5800.

Preparing for an HVAC Emergency

It is 4 a.m., and the phone rings. The building’s boiler has failed, and it is 20 degrees outside. Technicians will not be able to repair the failure in a few hours. It will be days or weeks until repairs are complete or a new boiler is in service, assuming one is available for installation and delivery. Now what?

It is essential to have emergency-preparedness plans that include HVAC equipment failure. While many organizations have general emergency-preparedness plans designed, they must not forget about HVAC equipment failure! With a plan, the above situation could have been much easier to resolve and would have limited system downtime to just a few hours, minimized disruptions to building occupants and operations, and eliminated almost the entirely the risk of damage to the building and its systems.

What insight does Bruner have on this topic for you? We asked our operations manager for some tips on this situation and he suggests “Hopefully, you have a preventative maintenance program in place and as a result, already have the funds set aside for this inevitability. Your service provider should have noted the boiler’s condition on their last several maintenance summaries and during a quarterly meeting should have relayed that it was a major cause for concern that needed immediate attention. Preferably, your service provider and trusted partner should have identified the specific concerns and had contingencies in place so that this didn’t happen to begin with. Ideally, identifying redundancy or areas where it is missing should be a part of every comprehensive maintenance program so that you don’t find yourself in this situation.”

Boiler failures aren’t the only HVAC emergencies that can occur – don’t forget to address central chillers, individual-area HVAC systems, and also to be aware of temporary changes in the way occupants use a building which can create conditions where the existing HVAC system no longer can meet the needs of the application. As always, Bruner can help your organization develop a comprehensive maintenance program to avoid and prepare for an HVAC emergency.

Meet Bruner’s Service Estimator Team!

Similar to our employee spotlight that we have each month, this month we will be highlighting two of Bruner’s service estimators – Lowell McElroy and Steve Price. Both Lowell and Steve estimate equipment repairs for the service department based on site visits, call-in business, and preventative maintenance or service call recommendations from a technician’s suggestions. They have also worked with engineers to help strategize for job preparation and execution. Let’s dig a little deeper in to each of their individual fun facts!

Lowell McElroy:

Lowell is going on his 14th year here at Bruner, and his favorite part of the job is that most days are different and he gets to meet and talk to new people. In his free time, he enjoys a little R&R, travel baseball, boating, and spending time with his family and friends. When it comes to food, he “likes it hot!”. Lowell cheers for the Steelers and his favorite season is fall. Surprisingly, his favorite vacation spot is home, but he also enjoys traveling to Tennessee and on occasion the beach.

Steve Price:

Steve has been with Bruner for 4 years, and his favorite part of the job is that it has allowed him to morph into many roles. Another aspect that he enjoys are the great co-workers that he gets to work with every day. Steve is currently enrolled as a full time student as well, working towards earning a degree in psychology. While he has been in customer service positions for half of his life, he can’t wait to get into psychology because it is something that has always been a dream of his. Steve’s favorite sports team is the Ohio State Buckeyes, and his favorite day of the week is Saturday. Lucky for him, his favorite holiday is just around the corner as it is Halloween. On a final note, Steve believes trust is an important value and is sure to instill this in is daughter as he watches her grow up.

10 HVAC & Energy Efficiency Fun Facts

A little knowledge doesn’t hurt anyone! We’ve been collecting fun facts about the HVAC industry over the past few months from various credible sources, and thought collectively they would make a masterpiece. So read on and you will probably find something out you didn’t know before!

1. Factors such as rightsizing, system updating, and types of refrigerant used can significantly affect HVAC efficiency.

2. An electronic air cleaner is 40x more efficient than a standard throwaway filter in removing unwanted particles from your home.

3. A variable speed heat pump can trim energy costs by as much as 40%.

4. You can increase the efficiency of your home by up to 30% by investing in proper insulation and sealing air leaks around windows and doors.

5. In NYC, it is estimated that poorly fitted air conditioners cost buildings $130 million to $180 million a year in extra fuel consumption!

6. An oversized HVAC system increases installation costs, wastes energy, and costs more in overall operating costs than a correctly sized system.

7. 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off – so unplug and conserve!

8. The Romans were the first civilization to use any type of warm-air heating system.

9. The first air conditioner wasn’t for people’s comfort! The first modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902 for a publishing company in Brooklyn. The machine kept temperature and humidity low so that paper didn’t expand and contract. Carrier never intended for his invention to be solely used for comfort!

10. The top 3 commercial energy uses in the US are: lighting, space heating, and space cooling.

Is it Greener to Retrofit than Build New?

We all know that building new green buildings is always a hot idea, but experts have been pushing the idea that retrofitting existing buildings with green upgrades provide more environmental benefits. Your first thought may be new = better however, there is now proof that these experts are correct from a report released earlier this year. The report found that it is unequivocally greener to retrofit an old building than construct a new green building, no matter how many high-tech bells and whistles are in the new construction. The report was drawn from “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse” project which was commissioned by Preservation Green Lab.

Elizabeth Heider, chair of the board of directors at the USGBC said “The thought was in order to build green you have to build new.” However, the report numbers add up in favor of retrofits. The report states:

  • It can take between 10 and 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to overcome, through more efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts that come from construction.
  • Environmental savings from re-use are between 4 and 46 percent over new construction when comparing buildings with the same energy performance level
  • The negative environmental impact of retro green for human health was between 12 and 38 percent less than for new construction
  • When it comes to ROIs, retros showed a 19.2% increase in ROI versus 9.9% for new buildings

Case in point, retrofitting is the way to go! Bruner has a successful track record of helping our customers retrofit their mechanical systems for over 50 years. Let us assist you in developing a retrofit solution that works best for your building by contacting us today!

12th Avenue Tunnel Project Completed!

As summer comes to an end, so does the construction on the OSU Wexner Medical Center 12th Avenue Tunnel project. Bruner was chosen to relocate the utility tunnel in order to provide high pressure steam and chilled water to the new Critical Cancer Tower along with distribution to other main hospitals on OSU’s Medical Center Campus. The new underground tunnel connects from the South Campus Chiller Plant and travels down Cannon Drive and up 12th Avenue to a main valve vault located at the corner of 12th Avenue and Harding Hospital. With the help of Bruner, this mechanical upgrade will result in greater efficiencies and savings in operational costs and energy in adjacent buildings.

Electrical, plumbing, and HVAC services were maintained throughout construction to major OSU buildings, and all piping systems were installed after the tunnel completion. So what was included you ask? For the chilled water piping there is: 1600 lineal ft of 36” and 900 lineal ft of 42” extra heavy carbon steel pipe, and 500 lineal ft of 24” pre-insulated underground piping. As for the high pressure steam and condensate piping: 1000 lineal ft of 12” seamless carbon steel piping and 1500 lineal feet of 8” and 6” stainless steel piping. Bruner manpower peaked at 20 pipefitters and welders at one time!

So the next time you are walking around Ohio State’s campus and find yourself on 12th Avenue, think about the hard work put in by Bruner to achieve efficiency and energy savings below you!

The Inside Scoop on one of Bruner’s General Foremen: Kevin Hanson

Kevin takes a “whatever it takes” approach to his work here at Bruner, as he is challenged to complete many different types of projects. His favorite part of his job within the past 8 years has been designing plans, executing them, and ultimately using his problem solving skills. He has been in the plumbing and pipefitting industry for 22 years!

When he’s not at work, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. They spend a lot of time traveling, camping, and tailgating for his favorite sports team – Ohio State. He also noted that his favorite vacation spot is Maui, Hawaii. A fun fact about him is that he has been a USN Search and Rescue Diver for four years! Surprisingly, Kevin’s favorite day of the week is Monday. I’m sure Kevin is getting excited for football season, as his favorite season is fall.

5 Workplace Trends in 2012

As the workplace continues to evolve, be sure to keep up with your competitors by considering the following new trends in the workplace! For most companies, these new trends have potential to evolve into growth of your company.

1. Movement from management to leadership values – Employees can determine when an organization’s walk doesn’t fit the talk, and they are getting impatient working for managers who are less self-aware than they are. Instead, individuals today must lead with values such as collaboration and shared purpose. By engaging the workforce in a compelling shared vision and engaging their hearts as well as their minds, leaders can reap the best results.

2. A focus on workplace culture as a means to grow the business – Dedicating time, energy, and resources into creating a sustainable culture can eliminate money spent on marketing (think Google, Panera). Customers patronize businesses that care about their employees, and will even pay more if they believe their values are shared by the company.

3. Diversity makes a comeback – Today, organizations have a renewed interest in diversity, and it has to do with the customer and shareholders. From a customer relations perspective, companies need people inside their organizations who are representative of the people they are trying to reach outside.

4. Rise of virtual work relations – Although they can make it seem like you’re connected to the workplace 24/7, sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn makes it easier to retain relationships with current and past co-workers. This allows for greater amounts of information and expertise to be shared and leveraged which is always a benefit!

5. Organizations are getting flatter – Instant access technology means that employees are not as dependent on the hierarchies of the past for information. With that being said, managers can expect a new definition of team work. Instead of playing your individual role in the team, it’s all about what everyone is chipping in to accomplish what is needed.