This RFP is intended to provide Career Connected Learning opportunities to low-income youth who have historically had limited access due to systemic racial, ethnic and economic segregation. We are interested in funding systemic strategies to support and empower youth from Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC) communities to connect to key sectors in the economy. Activities should be aligned to build talent pipelines to the Seattle Office of Economic Development’s key industries: IT, Creative, Maritime, Manufacturing and Clean Technology, all of which provide access to middle wage jobs and career progression. Applicants will be evaluated based on their ability to support youth and young adults move away from jobs at risk of being eliminated either due to COVID-19 or advancing technology, toward the emerging economy of the future.
Washington State’s Clean Building Law, HB 1257, will create a performance-based energy standard based on ASHRAE Standard 100 for commercial buildings larger than 50,000 sq. ft. This new law represents compliance challenges and opportunities for utilities. In addition to penalties for building owners that do not meet the standard, the law also requires utilities to provide building owners energy data and administrative support on payments for an early adopter incentive program. Hear from utilities and state agencies about compliance implications for utilities and how the law provides an opportunity for increased conservation program participation.
Moderator: Bryan Russo, Tacoma Power
- Chuck Murray, WA Department of Commerce
- Tom Lienhard, Avista
- Joseph Fernandi, Seattle City Light
- Beth Robinweiler, Puget Sound Energy
Access the webinar recording HERE.
The following Seattle Times article by Geoff Baker features an interesting and relevant conversation about indoor air quality and HVAC system solutions to minimize virus presence and spread within buildings. NEEC member businesses Trane, MacDonald Miller and McKinstry are all mentioned for their expertise on the topic.
Greg Smith had little time to spare when studies began suggesting the novel coronavirus can spread through shared air within buildings.
As a facilities management director for the King County Library System, Smith overseas the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in about four dozen buildings currently closed to non-staffers. He contacted the county’s HVAC maintenance contractor and they tested each of the systems — the oldest about 15 years — to ensure maximum air flow and filtration before library visitors are allowed back in.
“The news changes every day on this stuff,” Smith said. “What’s good. What’s bad. What people recommend and what scientists have said. So, yeah, we’re tracking it pretty closely.”
The coronavirus pandemic has challenged an HVAC industry suddenly asked to help ensure the air in offices, stores and other buildings is safe for occupants.
Given the cost of completely replacing HVAC systems can run $100,000 to $500,000 for smaller buildings and into the millions for bigger ones, specialists are instead finding creative ways of improving what’s already there.
Rod Kauffman, president of the local Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), a trade group with membership comprising about 70% of Seattle and Bellevue office buildings, said most members have increased their fresh air intakes. Others have upgraded filters and some have even installed the more expensive UV light disinfecting devices within systems.
Their scramble to make changes increased after more than 200 researchers recently pushed the World Health Organization to recognize that the coronavirus can spread through air currents. That followed a springtime University of Oregon study which found the virus present in a quarter of the vents in hospital rooms where COVID-19 patients were treated — suggesting it might spread through air separate from an infected person’s location.
Opinions differ among experts over how serious the spread could be. But with buildings hoping to ramp up tenant occupancy soon — with workers often struggling in temporary home setups — many are taking proactive steps to avoid future virus outbreaks that might shut them down anew.
For Smith, that meant upgrading the standard filters within library HVAC systems to a version that traps smaller air particles and droplets.
He also began “flushing” the libraries of interior air more frequently throughout the day and replacing it with outside air that is cooled and then recirculated. Every evening, the buildings are additionally flushed for eight hours at a time.
“Our energy costs are going to go up,” he said of the added expense of heating and cooling imported air to room temperature. “But the safety benefits for everybody else are far more important.’’
Rory Olson, vice president of service operations for MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions, the HVAC specialists working with Smith, said the business has been “bombarded with calls’’ from building managers since April. That’s when the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) warned that HVAC mitigation might be needed to prevent people from becoming infected by airborne coronavirus droplets.
“Transmission of (coronavirus) through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled,” ASHRAE wrote. “Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.”
Olson’s company, which has 4,700 Seattle-area facility customers, can’t guarantee it can eradicate the spread of coronavirus droplets in buildings, largely because even scientists don’t know enough about the virus.
“The recommendation we’ve been giving most people is, ‘Hey, we’re not virus experts — we’re HVAC experts,’’’ Olson said. “We can’t tell them the things we recommend are going to have a huge impact or any impact at all.
“But we do know about HVAC systems and can give recommendations that make a lot of sense based on what we know … just so they can prepare their building.’’
Solutions are tailored around a company’s specific HVAC system. In general, mitigation falls into four categories: ventilation, filtration, humidity and disinfection.
Proper ventilation is achieved by flushing buildings with outside air using controls typically built into existing HVAC systems. One drawback, beyond soaring energy costs, is warmer summer air and cooler winter air from outdoors can make buildings uncomfortable.
For filtration, buildings will often upgrade from standard filters designed mainly to protect HVAC equipment from larger air particles as opposed to humans from much smaller contaminants. But more powerful filters can also “choke off” certain HVAC systems by catching too many tiny particles and lead to even poorer ventilation if the unit’s fans aren’t strong enough.
Humidity options are mostly for hospitals and medical buildings already set up with systems to control it year-round — with studies showing 43% humidity or higher can typically render most viruses powerless, though whether that works with coronavirus is unclear.
Some ultraviolet light products help disinfect air coming out of HVAC units. But Olson said retrofitting units with additional UV light is very costly and most customers prefer alternatives.
A much cheaper option involves opening up and disinfecting the HVAC units themselves before using them.
“It makes logical sense and it’s not that expensive to do,” Olson said.
Another cost-effective option, long used in residential buildings but gaining traction on the commercial side, is bipolar ionization. A device is retrofitted into an HVAC unit and uses electrically charged atoms to knock down air particles so they can’t get breathed in.
“We’ve done some smoke-testing to see whether it would pull smoke out of the air,” Olson said. “And it pulled smoke out of the air.”
Olson’s company has yet to install any bipolar ionization devices, though it has started recommending the option to customers.
Allan Reagan, CEO of Flix Brewhouse — a chain of dine-in movie theaters in Texas, Iowa, Arizona, New Mexico and Indiana — has hired Trane Technologies to install bipolar ionization for all 87 of the company’s screening auditoriums, at $1,500 apiece. The theaters are closed now, largely due to a lack of new Hollywood films.
Reagan reopened one of his San Antonio theaters for two weeks to try out bipolar ionization and said he’s heard no reports of positive COVID-19 tests for any of the 700 patrons or 50 employees that were on-site. “We tried it out, declared victory, and we’ll come back when we have some good content,” Reagan said.
McKinstry, which designs and maintains HVAC units and other building operating systems, since May has run a “Return with Confidence” program. The program helps McKinstry clients — including 10,000 buildings in the Pacific Northwest — assess their HVAC systems and devise an action plan for needed fine-tuning or upgrades.
Ash Awad, the company’s chief market officer, said most Seattle-area buildings have opted for tweaking HVAC systems as opposed to costly overhauls more prevalent in other parts of the country. Awad said the company is helping clients incorporate additional “ongoing monitoring” within systems to quickly identify any breakdowns that could lead to insufficient ventilation or filtration.
“We’re a strong believer that this is what people should have been doing anyway pre-COVID,” he said. “But with regard to COVID, this is pretty critical stuff to make sure you can look at your tenants, your occupants, your staff … and tell them with confidence: ‘We’ve checked out your building, your space, and it has appropriate air flow, the right movement. And we’re monitoring.”’
Geremy Wolff, the company’s regional director for technical services, oversees McKinstry teams making HVAC assessments for clients. Above all, they stress the need for clients to focus on coronavirus safety fundamentals: mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand-washing and surface cleaning within their buildings. Many buildings now limit elevators to four people or fewer.
“That’s not something we’re experts in, but that is the No. 1 priority,” Wolff said.
The idea being, no HVAC fix will magically protect people if basic safety goes ignored.
Wolff’s teams will help clients figure out whether their systems are performing optimally, then decide on the most suitable filters to use, or how much additional heat in summer or cold in winter the owners will tolerate to get more fresh air inside buildings.
Wolff said most buildings aren’t expecting a return to 100% occupancy and at best probably will be only 40%-50% full. Many solutions amount to educated guesswork based on past studies and experiences with other viruses.
“We’re making assumptions on everything we’re doing because there isn’t a ton of research out there,” Wolff said. “Even with the virus itself, there isn’t anything readily available for people to do research on. … The government’s not handing out (coronavirus) samples to air-handler manufacturers to figure out if their filters can catch it.”
Kauffman, the BOMA president, this past week joined a conference call with the engineers from several buildings to plan an August workshop involving HVAC industry experts and ASHRAE officials. BOMA already held a COVID-19-related workshop in March, drawing 950 participants, but Kauffman said much of “what we thought we knew” has changed.
“We’ve learned more these last four months,” he said. “So, it’s time to kind of re-look at this.”
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
In response to the recent and ongoing public outcry for racial justice, the Board and Staff of the Smart Buildings Center is issuing a statement recognizing the urgency of this crisis and our commitment to support these important efforts particularly as they relate to the work of the SBC. To aid us in these efforts, we are pleased to announce the formation of an Advisory Committee comprised of racially and gender diverse industry and technical experts. Over the next several months, we will work with the SBC staff to recruit this group, which will help define the programming of the SBC with a lens toward diversity and inclusion in our programs and will also serve as a sounding board for technical inquiries and content development.
The cry for racial justice is not a moment in time and achieving the goals of justice requires each of us. At the Smart Buildings Center, we are committed to achieving a more just and equitable environment, especially as it relates to the buildings in which we all live and work.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding holding large events during the COVID-19 pandemic and with the health, safety, and well-being of attendees as our top priority, the Smart Buildings Center is postponing the in-person Smart Buildings Exchange (SBX) Conference & Tradeshow until August 24th & 25th, 2021. The event will remain at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in downtown Seattle, and any tickets purchased for the 2020 dates will be honored for the 2021 dates or may be refunded. A special thank you to SBX event sponsors, Advisory Committee members, and session speakers for your understanding and flexibility as we make this shift. Although we are disappointed we are unable to hold the in-person event this year, we look forward to convening the industry in the summer of 2021 to cover the robust agenda topics we have developed while also enjoying outdoor socializing and networking.
In place of this year’s planned in-person event, we are hosting a free Virtual Smart Buildings Week September 14th-17th, 2020. Each day during the lunch hour, a virtual session crafted from key topics and speaker commitments for our planned in-person event will feature a lively and interactive panel discussion as outlined below. Registration for the first three virtual sessions on September 14th, 15th and 16th is now open and details for a fourth session on September 17th will be announced soon. These one-hour sessions each qualify for 1 Building Operator Certification (BOC) credential maintenance point and 0.10 IACET CEUs towards the renewal of industry certifications, certificates and licenses including but not limited to AIA, PE, LEED, IFMA, ASHRAE, and AEE.
Smart Buildings: Using Data and Analytics to Improve Performance
September 14th, 2020, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
This session brings together two leading local smart service providers and two facility directors who have real world experience bringing smart solutions to their buildings. Designing for optimal performance is no guarantee that it will happen. The ability to acquire system performance data is no guarantee that the data will trigger operational improvements. In these two case studies, buildings that should have been “top of their game” needed a new approach. Attendees will hear how ATS Automation and DB Engineering intervened to help facility directors collect relevant data from installed building systems, use analytical tools to provide insights into performance problems, and then – most importantly – help those facilities take action. The results speak for themselves. Improved energy performance that is persisting over time.
- Stan Price, Smart Buildings Center
- Pete Segall, ATS Automation
- Trevor Sodorff, DB Engineering
- Tim Wingert, CBRE
- Keith Berkoben, Google
Smart Buildings: Grid Enabled (and Efficient) Buildings
September 15th, 2020, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Grid enabled buildings (GEB) are equipped with technologies for load management that can respond to dynamic conditions in the electric grid. GEBs are generally more efficient (HVAC, lighting, envelope, appliances), connected (hardware and software), smart (data and analytics), and flexible (loads, generation, storage). In an environment where hardware is increasingly attractively priced and a plethora of data is available, building owners are able to provide a significant benefit to a utility’s growing portfolio of resources and play a creative role in meeting its resource capacity needs in real time and for the long term. GEBs also offer the owner the additional value proposition of taking more control of their utility costs.
An expert, national panel will describe the key features of GEBs and outline the value streams that accrue to both the building owner and the serving utility in creating this grid enabled relationship. The panel will discuss both the technology required to create a two-way communication condition as well as the cost and benefits to all the parties in making GEBs a reality.
- Ben Levie, Seattle City Light; Mark Lenssen, Puget Sound Energy
- Alexi Miller, New Buildings Institute
- Cara Carmichael, Rocky Mountain Institute
- Mark Frankel, Ecotope
- Mary Ann Piette, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
Smart Buildings: Achieving Persistent Operational Performance
September 16th, 2020, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Facility energy performance and operations are often in direct conflict. It’s tough to hear, but the scales are not balanced for building owners or operators. Social pressure, building codes and new legislation are pushing EUI targets lower and lower. Advanced energy systems and smart building controls tease easy answers during initial design and construction, but the harsh reality is that designing an efficient building does not translate to operations success and often only adds to reactive practices, deferred maintenance and risk. In most cases, operators are not prepared to take on complicated building systems and new-to-them technologies. With inadequate training or resources, overtaxed staff override system settings to simply make it work. The result inadvertently drives up energy consumption and negates all efforts to optimize energy performance during design and construction while reducing asset life and introducing unnecessary risks.
The transition to smart and sustainable operations offers a best practice that balances the scales between energy expectations and operational realities. Panelists will outline proven approaches on actual projects that bridge design, build, train, optimize to ensure current energy requirements are effective and met.
- Ric Cochrane, McKinstry
- Mike Kowalick, South Landing EcoDistrict
- Roy Buchert, Kaiser Permanente
- Norm Menter, University of Washington
Register now for these engaging virtual panel discussions during Smart Buildings Week!
The Smart Buildings Center is designed as a place to serve those in the energy efficiency and smart buildings industries, providing a resource for these communities to convene, exchange ideas, and improve the building stock in the Pacific Northwest. While the current public health situation required limited operations in recent months, we are excited to announce our current plans to reopen our space and Tool Lending Library with the health and wellbeing of our stakeholders and staff front of mind.
In adhering to the COVID-19 response policy issued by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the Smart Buildings Center is operating with recommended precautions in place.
- Appropriate masks, covering nose and mouth, are required in the Smart Buildings Center and Pacific Tower and masks are not available on site. Please bring your own mask/face covering.
- To limit crowding at entries and exits, the Pacific Tower is limiting entry to the building from the south side of the building; exit is to the north side of the building.
Guidelines for use of Smart Buildings Center’s meeting spaces:
- Masks are required in all areas of the Smart Buildings Center and the Pacific Tower.
- Training and Event Space will hold no more than 15 individuals and the Large Conference Room can hold up to 6 people. This capacity is set to ensure adequate physical distancing of 6 feet between occupants.
- Reservations must be submitted within 7 calendar days of the requested event date.
- To ensure adequate time for cleaning of spaces, both rooms are only available for use on Mondays & Thursdays.
- Staff of the SBC continue to work remotely as recommended by local health guidelines. Check ins and check outs will be conducted by phone and virtual tech support is available.
- All parties will be responsible for properly sanitizing the environment before and after event. The SBC will provide cleaning supplies.
- Organizations using our space are asked to sign a waiver releasing the Smart Buildings Center of liability.
If you have questions, please email email@example.com.
Guidelines for use of Smart Buildings Center’s Tool Lending Library:
The Tool Lending Library is open for reservations and we are excited to serve our stakeholders with this service.
Tools may be picked up or dropped off at the Smart Buildings Center by appointment only, generally within the following hours (other arrangements on a case-by-case basis):
Tuesdays 9-11 am
Thursdays 2-4 pm
When making your reservation, please note your desired appointment time and wait for an email or phone response to confirm. If you would like the tool(s) shipped, please indicate the shipping address when making your reservation, and allow extra time for us to process the shipment.
Appropriate masks covering nose and mouth are required. Entry to the Pacific Tower is from the south side of the building; exit is to the north side of the building. There are several free 30-min. parking spaces near the south entrance of the building. (Note: parking time limits are heavily enforced.)
We are taking care to sanitize tool surfaces before and after use. We appreciate your efforts to do the same before returning tools you have borrowed. Additionally, tools will be quarantined for at least 3 days between loans. Our on-site library staff resources are currently limited. Please help us by being patient with the extra time it may take to process tool loans.
If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.