10 Tips for Fall and Winter Facility Maintenance

The fine folks at HPAC Engineering Magazine shared 10 wonderfully practical, simple and useful year-end maintenance tips to assist you with managing your facility.  Let’s take a look!

1. Reduce Your Set Points (temperature): For each degree you lower your thermostat (for heat); you will lower your utility bill by an average of one percent. This is the easiest way to reduce your energy consumption.. thus your operational costs.

2. Use Ice – As we approach the Advent and Christmas seasons, many churches decorate their facilities with Poinsettias.  These seasonal plants are a mainstay during the Christmas and winter season for many congregations.  Well…the best way to “water” these plants is to use an ice slurry.  If you use only water, the potting soil tends to dry out quickly due to the heat drying the air and absorbing moisture in the air and in our plants (and anything in our facilities that have moisture including your wood).  By using an ice slurry, you allow the ice to melt and continue to “water” the plants over a longer period of time keeping them fresher longer.

3. Change Your HVAC Filters – Changing the air filters in your HVAC systems is a key aspect of your preventive maintenance initiative.  For many, the change of the season is a great reminder to perform this task.  Remember that regular filter changes can extend the life of your units and reduce energy consumption (i.e. – SAVE MONEY).  This is also a great time to verify the systems are in good working order.

4. Get The Right Entrance Mats – The right entrance mats are the first line of defense to keeping dirt out of your facility, including sand, snow, ice-melt, leaves, etc. It also is needed to protect your occupants from potential slip hazards given wet conditions. Ideally, the matting would start outside the entrance doors and continue inside allowing the occupants to step 3 times with each foot on a mat. And not just any mat…get the right “kind” of mat that does not crush…can store dirt and water for future removal…and reduces the possibility of dirt being tracked into your facility.  Remember, that 80% of all dirt enters your facility from peoples feet and it costs between $500-700 to remove a pound of dirt once it is in your facility…so, the best way to reduce cost in cleaning, is to stop the dirt form entering your facility.

5. Inspect All Exterior Doors and Windows – Check to make sure that caulking is still flexible and is sealing any gaps between window/door frames and exterior walls.  This ensures the warm air stays inside the building during the winter and seals the exterior building envelope from water penetration and leaks.  For added energy savings, check the weather stripping at all exterior door frames to make sure it’s still in place and serving its intended purpose.

6. Clean Gutters and Downspouts – Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear from debris so that they adequately drain water away.  This continues to be important as the season progresses and leaves fall.  Consider pruning overhanging trees at this time to keep the leaves and debris off the roof.  Clogged gutters can cause water to back up, which will damage the roof and the trim around the roof and soffits, as well as siding.  During cold winter weather, standing and backed-up water in gutters can freeze and cause ice dams that will damage your roof and sheathing, and lead to leaks.  Downspouts should discharge into underground storm drain leaders or empty onto splash blocks that adequately divert the water away from the exterior of the building.

7. Check Exterior Faucets and Service Irrigation System – Install frost-proof exterior hose bib faucets or drain older non-frost-proof faucets to keep them from freezing and breaking during the winter.  This is also a good time to have the underground irrigation system serviced and prepared for winter by a qualified irrigation contractor.

8. Exterior Site Concrete  and Asphalt Pavement – Perform regular sealing of exterior cracks in sidewalks and paved areas during the fall.  Water that freezes inside these cracks can cause the concrete to spall and deteriorate, leading to more costly repairs later. The water penetration can also cause the sub-grade to soften, leading to settlement and potholes.

9. Perform Roof Inspections – Get your ladder and check out the roofs around your campus – or hire a qualified roofing contractor to inspect your low-sloped built-up and membrane roofs as well as the higher sloped shingled roofs.  Look for areas of loose shingles, especially around the building eaves where ice dams can form during winter, which allow moisture to enter under the shingles.  In addition, check flashing at vertical wall intersections, chimneys, and plumbing vent boots to confirm there are no holes or other damage that can allow water to enter the building during heavy rain or snow.  Adequate roof maintenance not only reduces leaks, but extends the life of your roofing systems.  It is important to check low-sloped roofs weekly during the leaf falling season to ensure that roof drains are not clogged with leaves and debris.

10. Check Attics – Check the insulation in your attics to confirm it’s the proper thickness and is distributed evenly.  Lack of proper attic insulation is a major cause of heat loss in a building, which will increase your heating costs.  You should also check to see that all vents are operating properly and there is no insulation blocking the continuous soffit vents around the attic perimeter.  This is also a good time to ensure that fire sprinkler lines located in unheated attics are adequately insulated to prevent freezing and breaking of these lines.

Credit: CoolConversationsLive.com and HPAC.com

Current Administration Announces New Actions to Bring Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency across the Country

The renewable energy and sustainability trend continues to grow.. this time with an extra helping hand from the Government.  President Obama has issued a series of executive actions and private sector commitments to expedite the U.S. transition to cleaner sources:

  • $1 billion in additional loan guarantee authority available and new guidelines for distributed energy projects that use innovative technology and states seeking to tap into this financing;
  • $24 million for 11 projects in seven states to develop advanced solar technologies that double the amount of energy each solar panel can generate;
  • A transmission line that will support bringing online a 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility to be built in Riverside County and produce enough renewable energy to power more than 145,000 homes; and
  • Interagency task force to promote clean energy

Read more here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/08/24/fact-sheet-president-obama-announces-new-actions-bring-renewable-energy

Resilience Engineering – Next level of Sustainability?

Resiliency is the hot topic in the A/E and construction world.  The private, federal, state, including our very own City of Norfolk, has done their fair share of research and development on the subject.  So what exactly does resilient design mean?  What are the standards for resiliency?  How is it governed and rated?


Well, the quick answer:  that’s still being developed.  Individuals from the Washington, D.C.-based Capital Markets Partnership have developed a new rating & standards system being dubbed “RELi.”  Two of the certification programs are based in Washington, D.C. — the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision program.

Some ideas were pulled from Minnesota’s SB 2030 Energy Standard and the Living Green Challenge. The RELi “Resiliency Action” list Pierce created has more than 200 actions, many from LEED and Envision. About 60 actions focus on resiliency, in particular hazard preparedness and hazard mitigation.

RELi’s guidelines are available at c3livingdesign.org, the C3 Living Design Project, which describes the program in great detail. Mike Italiano, CEO of Capital Markets and founder of the U.S. Green Building Council, said the impact of global warming is already being taken into account by the insurance industry and financial institutions. They want to support and invest in more sustainable communities that can withstand increasingly unpredictable and dangerous weather.

Bowman, Foster & Associates looks forward to continuing to provide our clients with services to better cope with potential disasters while maintaining sustainable buildings for now and the future.

Parts of article taken with permission from: http://finance-commerce.com/2015/07/sustainable-resiliency-is-next-stage-for-building-design/#ixzz3ihcisi15

BFA’s 4th Annual Spring Cookout

Bowman, Foster & Associates had it’s 4th annual Spring Cookout a few weeks back where staff relaxed and enjoyed the nice weather, company of friends, and some great food!  Big thanks goes to Monica Larsson, CFO, for setting everything up and Lorenso Wesley, CAD Manager, Rick O’Berry, Mechanical Designer, and Glenn Allsbrook III, Electrical Engineer, for cooking for the group!

Our staff and neighboring companies sharing in the cookout.

Our staff and neighboring companies sharing in the cookout.

Nick Agnir, electrical designer, preparing food for a hopeful future engineer!

Nick Agnir, electrical designer, preparing food for a hopeful future engineer!

Bruce Bowman, Mike Dixon, Kat Cox and Jennifer Minor enjoying fresh burgers.

Bruce Bowman, Mike Dixon, Kat Cox and Jennifer Minor enjoying fresh burgers.


Take a look at that spread!

CAD Manager, Lorenso Wesley, Grillin' it up!

CAD Manager, Lorenso Wesley, Grillin’ it up!

Fan-less computer cooling could save U.S. $6.3bn annually!

“A patented passive cooling system for computers, which does away with fans and a chunk of wiring, is so efficient, it could save U.S. consumers more than $6.3bn per year in energy costs.”

Dr. James E. Smith Jr., a UAH chemical engineering professor’s electronic cooling liquid and electrical insulator. Source: Electronic Products

Regarding the group’s approach, 3M’s Fluorinert FC-72 is an electronic cooling liquid and electrical insulator. A bit more specifically, it is colorless, odorless, biologically inert, and a chemically stable dielectric liquid that is nonflammable and has a boiling point of 133 degrees Fahrenheit, 56 degree Celsius.

When the system is in use, heat from the computer processor vaporizes the FC-72, whereupon the light vapor moves to a heat exchanger. Here, the heat is released into the environment and condenses into a heavier liquid. It then moves to a holding tank before the liquid eventually travels to the processor again to complete the cycle.

Student Cuong Nguyen, who worked on this system with Dr. Smith, explained that for his chemical engineering master’s thesis, he compared the passive cooling system with traditional solid-state passive cooling and traditional fan cooling in computers that ran for up to 12 hours under no load and heavy load conditions. The systems were tested using modified Intel Pentium 4 and Core i3 processors. Nguyen discovered that a near steady state 56-degree Celsius processor operating temperature was achieved using the passive cooling system. The acceptable range of processor operating temperature is 50 to 90-degree Celsius.

“Our system can absolutely work, and it can work for 12 hours in a stable condition,” Nguyen says. He went on to explain some of the additional physical benefits of having a passive cooling system in place of a fan-based one. “When we remove the cooling fan, it saves material costs, but it also eliminates the noise, vibration and dust contamination of fan cooling,” he explains. “When you remove the dust, you remove the chance that it can build up. Build-up of dust can destroy the electronic components.”

Beyond computer usage, optimized liquid passive cooling has plenty of other applications to which it can be applied. For instance, the system could be used in temperature stabilization of electronic guidance and propulsion control technologies in space; it could also serve as part of a more efficient power delivery system.

“When you look at the power transistors required for the smart grid, for example, this system could have application there, and there are other applications in that area, too,” says Dr. Smith. “Wherever you want to make high power in a small area, that is a potential application.”

Read more about this “cool” technology at http://www.electronicproducts.com

Blast from the Past! Vintage HVAC Advertisements

HPAC Engineering magazine recently published a number of vintage HVAC advertisements. Take a look back in time to one of the most tumultuous, intriguing times in U.S. and world history through the eyes of HPAC Engineering magazine, then called Heating Piping and Air Conditioning magazine, which was in its sixth year of existence.  Click here to see some “throw-back” ads.

Johnson Service Co. ad in the July 1934 issue of Heating Piping and Air Conditioning.

Bowman, Foster & Associates increases Talent Pool

BFA expands Staff, Skill and Market Experience
During this past year we have increased our capacity with the addition of 9 personnel: 2 new Professional Engineers (PE), 2 new Engineers in Training (EIT), 2 new Senior Designers (from each discipline), 2 returning employees who are Designers (each discipline), and a AutoDesk Revit Design Professional; additionally, of the 9 new professionals 5 are USGB LEED BD+C certified, and 2 are certified GGP and GPCP. We’ve also added a new Certified Plumbing Designer. The new staff members represent more than 154 years of combined experience in a mixture of educational, residential, BCOM/state/municipal, sustainable, historical preservation, healthcare, commercial, industrial, and government design.

To learn more on how the impressive experience of our existing and new staff can help resolve your design needs visit our website or contact us.

Our Revit Machines and Cooling – What happens if..?

Bowman, Foster & Associates’ in house Microsoft System Administrator has been custom building our high-end 3D Modeling (BIM) REVIT, AutoCAD and load calculation machines for the past 2 years. Why build over buy?

  1. Machines can be customized for best performance to complete the task at hand.
  2. Provide superior performance over out of the box at a fraction of the price.
  3. Multiple machines can be built for the same price of a single new Dell Workstation which allows BFA to provide staff with new high performance machines more frequently.
  4. Generic parts can be purchased locally within an hour to repair the machine instead of waiting for next business day support from a “big-box vendor”.
  5. Machines are easily upgraded when application requirements require more power.

While our IT Manager typically builds the machines with proper ventilation, wiring management and care; however, for the sake of experimentation we have built one machine with the quality and attention of our standard builds and the other… well, not.

These two AutoDesk Revit (3D BIM) machines were built with the following parts:

  • AMD FX-8320 FX-Series 8-Core Black Edition CPU (Cache: 8/8MB (L2/L3)
  • AMD FirePro W5100 (4GB GDDR5, 1.43 TFLOPS single precision floating point performance)
  • 16GB of DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800, Timing 9-9-9)
  • 120GB SSD Hard Drive (450 MB/s read/write, 85,000 IOPS read/write)
  • ASUS M5A97 R2.0 AM3+ Motherboard (SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0, AMD 970 Northbridge)
  • Cooler Master Elite 350 Computer Case
  • 120mm fan rear exhaust and 80mm side exhaust fans (negative pressure in the case)
  • CAPSTONE-450 450W (Continuous @ 50°C, 80 PLUS GOLD certified)
  • 2x ViewSonic 24-Inch LED-Lit LCD Monitor (Full HD 1080p, Display-Port)

If you’re a fan of powerful systems, like our IT Manager is, you’re probably excited about this parts list. The build provides enough power for present and future versions of AutoDesk Revit—while being easily upgradable to go even further. Let’s start with the basics and take a look inside the machines:
Can you see a difference? That poor build on the right looks quite “messy”, and actually let’s call it that. Not only are the cables going to block what little airflow there is in the case but also catch and drag dust to critical components. Now, let’s run the machines and execute a workstation load bearing test (via HeavyLoad v3.3) and compare the temperatures:
Yikes. This test has only been running for about an hour. The negative pressure ventilation system and clean environment on the Bowman, Foster & Associates “standard” build was able to keep our system well within the complaint operating temperatures for all critical components (55°C recommended max for CPU). Our “messy” build forcefully shut down due to exceeding the heat limits of the CPU! That’s right… temperatures on the “messy” machine were actually higher than shown in the picture at one point in time (machine forcefully cuts off at 61°C to avoid damage). Obviously, this ends the temperature testing as the max safe CPU temperature is 62°C.

Based on the information gathered from this small experiment I think it’s clear that we will continue to use a “standard” build level of quality. It will continue to provide Bowman, Foster & Associates with cleaner, more efficient, and clearly more reliable (thus cheaper) machines for our staff to provide our clients with quality deliverables. And frankly, it’s a lot easier to work on.


Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium

South Korean researchers have solved a longstanding problem that stopped them from creating ultra-strong, lightweight aluminum-steel alloys.

Could we see new, lightweight, metal impacting the skyscraper industry?  Well, it may not be quite ready for use in buildings but the new method is extremely exciting.  Here at Bowman, Foster & Associates we’re excited to see new building materials being born that will make it cheaper, and stronger, for our clients.

B2 crystals (light gray) are dispersed in the aluminum-steel alloy (dark gray.) Source: Hanson Kims

Come read the entire in full at: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/news/a13919/new-steel-alloy-titanium/


Engineers in the US have invented a battery, made of three molten metals, which could help smooth the power supply from renewable energy sources.

The battery runs at 450C so its workings are impossible to photograph; this room-temperature mock-up uses mercury (bottom) and steel foam instead of hot, liquid metals

Published in the journal Nature, this latest attempt at a scalable solution for storing electricity is set for commercial demonstrations within a year and has been greeted with enthusiasm by engineers in the UK.

“Sometimes, when the wind is blowing strongly, we have spare capacity available – if only we could store it, so that we could use it when the wind isn’t blowing,” explained Prof Ian Fells, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and former chair of the New and Renewable Energy Centre.

“Using these molten metal electrodes is, it seems to me, a very good idea,” he told BBC News.

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