The Five Questions You’ll Need to Answer When Pitching STEP By Scott Walker, CTS-D, LEED AP I am currently in discussions with four different clients from both the higher education and corporate sectors about engaging STEP on their next projects. In my discussions with these clients, the same five questions keep coming up. As you (hopefully) begin to have similar discussions with your clients about STEP, you are likely to encounter these as well, so I thought I would share my experience on how I am addressing these questions. Question No. 1: “We are already doing LEED on this project. Why do I need to do STEP as well?” Most people do not realize that LEED asks nothing of the design team or contractors with regard to the technology systems in the building. Sure, plenty of points in LEED deal with energy efficiency and one credit is related to ENERGY STAR products, but the energy modeling outlined in LEED does not account for plug loads with any real specificity. In explaining this to clients, I typically use the real-world example that the lighting consultant on the project will be required to meet or, in most cases, beat ASHRAE 90.1 and design the lighting to be somewhere around 1 watt per square foot. Meanwhile, I can specify a 15,000-lumen projector the size of a small refrigerator in that same ceiling and no one cares because LEED doesn’t count my watts. STEP, on the other hand, looks at the entire technology spend and provides a plan for managing energy consumption while still maintaining proper contrast ratio and AV system quality. (When I mention this to owners and architects, they are always surprised and wonder why USGBC doesn’t count all watts the same. I tell them that’s a long story if they really want to hear it.) LEED also doesn’t deal with e-waste, nor does it address paper consumption reduction, travel reduction or any other carbon-emission savings that could result from the deployment of the use of collaboration technologies. STEP does. Lastly, while LEED promotes the concept of everyone “coming to the table” early in the project, STEP takes this concept much further to promote the true integration of disparate building systems (lighting, shade controls, HVAC controls, scheduling software, etc) into a cohesive and intelligent solution. In fact, nearly 30 percent of the credits in STEP are related to integrated building technology (IBT) solutions. If you want both a green and smart building, then STEP is the way to go. Question No. 2: “Is STEP as expensive as LEED?” At this time, the administrative costs for registering STEP projects with the STEP Foundation are ZERO. During this early pilot phase, the STEP Foundation Board, of which I am a member, wants to reduce barriers to adoption, and cost is certainly the biggest. So, on that level, STEP is much cheaper than LEED. Additional fees from the project technology designer, systems integrator and software programmer to complete the various STEP credits to be pursued, as well as the STEP administrator fees to guide STEP process, will vary from project to project based on a number of factors I outlined in July. It would be wrong on many levels for me to say anything about what one should charge for STEP, but I can offer some advice on how to approach this challenge from my experience. Because the STEP checklist is very proscriptive and lists tasks by phase, it is very easy to turn the checklist into a fee spreadsheet associating hours of time to accomplish each credit. If you work for a company that has already been doing much of the tasks outlined in STEP, then the incremental costs of STEP could be quite low. Question No. 3: “What’s my payback period?” Regardless of what fee you charge, you will likely encounter resistance about fees period, and you will get a question about ROI. Thus, the conversation must turn to the value to the owner from engaging a STEP project verses the current status quo of ignoring the energy consumption and carbon footprint of their technology spend. I have been honestly telling my clients that prior to engaging a STEP project and learning the specifics of which credits they want to pursue, one cannot do a meaningful ROI calculation. If they plan to pursue the IBT credits aggressively, then their long-term payback could be quite significant and their time to payback could be quite small. The same applies to calculating travel savings from the deployment of conference technologies. The energy credits, travel-reduction credits and IBT credits in STEP provide the framework for creating those ROI calculations. Thus, ROI is embedded in the very fiber of STEP. Question No. 4: “Can’t I (the owner) administer the STEP process and save on the STEP administrator fees?” Absolutely, and STEP allows—and assumes—that sustainability officers, campus technologists or others on the owner side will eventually want to manage the STEP process in-house as many owners do with LEED. However, at this point in time I believe it would be very difficult for someone who is not intimately familiar with STEP to just jump in and start managing the process. One of the first tasks of the STEP Foundation will be to develop an education program to train, and eventually accredit, people to run the STEP process. I am recommending to InfoComm that we offer an Institute of Professional Development (IPD) class on the days prior to InfoComm 2012 to begin this education process in earnest. In the meantime, I am recommending as many targeted webinars as possible so people who want to lead a STEP project can begin to get their head around what this role encompasses. Question No. 5: “What other owners are doing STEP?” If you get this question, then things are going well. This means that the client has recognized the inherent logic of STEP and understands the ROI argument. Now, they simply want to know if this program is real and if any of their peers are investing in it yet. Again, I have been honest with people that the rating system was just approved in June, and we are looking for sustainability-minded owners and architects with good projects who want to help the STEP Foundation get this program off the ground. I explain that, with each passing month, more trade associations are signing up as STEP supporters and a separate non-profit has been set up to run the program so it is definitely real. I have been very selective as to which clients I have engaged in the STEP conversation. I think targeting a repeat client who already gets the whole sustainability thing makes your job far easier than taking a flyer on a new client. Obviously, the industry needs full access to all the materials that have been created by the STEP subject matter experts to date in order to make sale, and the STEP Foundation is busy getting those documents ready for public consumption. For the time being, Alan Weidman, InfoComm’s sustainability officer, is your best bet for getting access to the documentation. Alan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy hunting! Scott Walker, CTS-D, LEED® AP, is president and CEO of Waveguide Consulting, a national AV, IT and acoustical consulting firm. Scott is a past president of InfoComm International, and he currently chairs InfoComm’s AV Sustainability Task Force, which is responsible for developing the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEPSM) rating system. Scott can be reached at email@example.com Leave a Comment Share Article
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Good Behavior, GreenAV and the Performance of Smart Buildings By Midori Connolly About two years ago, the first of several articles was released that provided some disappointing data about the underperformance of at least a quarter of all LEED-certified buildings (New York Times). Since then, there has been a steady flow of these types of reports and articles, including a 2011 report from the Washington Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, which says that seven of nine state buildings, built to meet LEED standards, are falling short of meeting their energy goals. While disappointing, these reports also serve to support the AV industry’s adamant stance on the necessity of recognizing the activity that occurs within a building. There must be an emphasis on infrastructure plus procedure. We need to explore how we can modify and manage the human behavior that happens in these green buildings. I think one of the most exciting trends out there is that of intelligent buildings (also referred to as Smart Building Technology, Building Information Modeling, Automated Buildings and so forth) — there’s even the International Society of Automation. Right now, InfoComm has created a new task force to explore exactly how AV technologies can play a role in this new trend. The implications for improving the performance of buildings (whether LEED certified or not) are massive. With intelligent buildings, we can use our AV systems to build controls that intuit the behavior of the people living or working there, saving money and helping energy efficiency or reducing waste… but is that enough? Yes, the sun shades may detect the sunlight and adjust automatically, or a system may deliver reports. But, so what? The problem still remains that the inhabitants have essentially the same procedures, same operations and no means of knowing how to mitigate the impact of their own behavior. This is probably the biggest issue keeping green building experts awake at night. That they may lose their LEED certification if the standards should change to include performance reporting is a very troubling idea for many! See, most design theorists, such as world-renowned design firm, IDEO, advocate that the human should be at the center of all design solutions; also including the culture and context in which that human dwells. Knowing this, I would propose that any AV professional who is looking for their potential role in building performance (beyond just control systems), should look to see how an intelligent building can reconstruct green building technology to put the human back at the center of that experience. Putting the human back at the center of green building technology will require influencing their behavior. Probably the most potent means of changing human behavior is through the feedback loop. How does the loop work? As was covered in the June edition of Wired magazine, it plays out as follows: “Provide people with information about their actions in real time (or something close to it), then give them an opportunity to change those actions, pushing them toward better behaviors. Action, information, reaction.” Can you see where you, Señor or Señora AV Professional, fit into this picture? Call me crazy, but don’t we have tools and technologies that already can create a feedback loop? Data/Information — no brainer. Action/Reaction — sure, why not use digital signage to create leaderboards in public areas for the energy consumption of individuals or tenant organizations? Could networked personal display systems alert them to challenges their actions create? The ideas are limitless if we really explore how our technologies can be smart enough to enable communication between the habitation (the building), the inhabitant (business or individual) and the overseer of this relationship (building managers or owners) Most of us know by now that the only way to endure in any industry is to anticipate the needs and wants of the customer of tomorrow, rather than the client of today. Take a deep dive and explore the technological systems and capabilities that we have as AV professionals to spark the feedback loop, providing the necessary means to change human behavior and ensure the desired performance of a green building investment. Midori Connolly is CEO and Chief AVGirl of Pulse Staging & Events, Inc. in Escondido, California. She wrote the first-ever set of Sustainable Staging guidelines after discovering none existed. She is the vice-chair of the AV committee for the U.S. EPA’s Green Meetings Standards and regularly speaks and writes about corporate social responsibility and green practices in live events and meeting planning. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org Leave a Comment Share Article
Smart Building Technologies Basics InfoComm International The AV industry often sits at the crux of revolutions in building design and technology. IT network convergence, green technology and integrated project delivery (IPD) are changing the way people design, inhabit and use a building. AV professionals are now turning their attention to smart building technologies (SBT), a growing force within the design and construction industries that, once again, requires a strong AV industry presence. “The problem with existing buildings is that facility managers have little information on how the building is performing, so management of the building’s performance is poor,” explains James M. Sinopoli, PE, LEED AP, RCDD, managing principal of Smart Buildings LLC. Sinopoli is a design engineer who has worked on approximately 600 buildings over the last 25 years and is a member of the InfoComm Intelligent Building Technology Task Force. “Integrating building systems is what SBT is all about; systems like building automation systems, building management systems, HVAC, life safety, security, AV and lighting.” Michael Carter, Director of Integrated Building Solutions at AMX and fellow IBT Task Force member, says, “The challenge with SBT is that, historically, every discipline in the construction industry is a silo. At some point, some of them connect but they pretty much are on their own. Building automation dates back to the 1950s but now the notion of what automation is has changed.” AV technology, Carter points out, currently exists in intelligent buildings with building automation but SBT goes yet another step beyond to a truly integrated building. The difference between the two is a subtle but very important distinction. Understanding SBT The key to wrapping one’s brain around SBT is to understand that there are many definitions under which it operates. “SBT is a continuum,” says Carter. “It has dozens of definitions and all are true. SBT is a process; not a final product.” The InfoComm IBT Task Force defines SBT as a process of conceiving, designing, constructing, commissioning, and operating buildings, which leverages technology to optimize the goals and objectives of the built environment. SBT occurs within the construct of an intelligent (or smart) building. David Wilts, LEED AP BD+C, director of integrated building technologies for Crestron and chair of the Integrated Building Technologies Task Force, adds, “The goal of SBT is to integrate all building systems in the same way an AV professional integrates the AV systems in a room. SBT can seem like a vast topic but it’s really straightforward. As one becomes more familiar with the different technologies, it becomes rote. We’re trying to encourage the AV industry to understand that SBT has happened on the residential side for over a decade, albeit on a smaller scale.” Wilts says that, in many cases, he gets called in on an SBT project because the owner wants a “living” building — a building that responds to how people behave in the building and to changes in the microclimate. Not all projects begin as SBT projects but once a building owner understands what SBT can produce, then proceeding down the SBT path only makes sense. Sinopoli echoes the sentiment that SBT is a great opportunity for AV professionals since the general concept of integration is the same. “Integrating an entire building versus 50 pieces of AV equipment in a system is not that different,” he says. “The difference is that the objective is much broader and a bit different than a typical AV project.” For example, designing and integrating a large auditorium may mean ensuring sightlines are good from every seat, the room acoustics are acceptable, the projectors meet the lumens requirement for the space and that the audio system provides adequate coverage. SBT means taking that thinking to a much larger level, such as ensuring that the data and communication points from every system are integrated into the building’s management dashboard. Even lighting takes on a new scope that stretches beyond the lighting in a room to include daylight harvesting and balancing the use of architecture, shading and lighting systems throughout an entire building. Sinopoli, author of the book Smart Building Systems for Architects, Owners, and Builders, further explains that the scope of SBT integration runs along several lines:
- Physical integration includes many of the building systems using a structured cabling system, and the consolidation of cable pathways and equipment rooms throughout the entire building. This recognizes the physical convergence of the systems, providing an opportunity to use one cable contractor for the systems, and more importantly, reduce the cost of the installing the systems.
- Network integration means more than just AV and IT convergence. Sinopoli is seeing building automation systems (BAS) and building management systems (BMS) use open protocols such as BACnet, Modbus and Lonworks that use IP and an IT network.
- Application integration allows different building systems to work together and provide more functionality. An example is an employee access card that’s embedded with identifying information for security/access control, HVAC, AV, and lighting systems to automatically adjust for that person. Application integration also means facility managers have improved tools for managing the building’s performance; for example, instead of different workstations for each system, a facility manager can get information integrated into one dashboard, such as integrating alarms for all different types of systems into one alarm management dashboard that gives the manager an easy and quick way to understand what is happening.
Gary Kayye and Gina Sansivero to Speak on GreenAV in Chicago Oct. 6 On October 6 in Chicago, rAVe founder Gary Kayye and Project Green AV director Gina Sansivero will present an all-new keynote called, “How to Design and Sell GreenAV Systems,” as part of Almo Pro A/V’s E4 AV Tour. Whether you’re a tree-hugging environmentalist or that person who refuses to separate the recyclables, everyone recognizes that there is a value in using less energy and power. Along with that comes the mandate to design and build more efficient AV systems. Maybe the value for you is with a spin towards doing your part to save the environment or maybe it’s simple a business decision — either way, GreenAV is an amazing opportunity for the ProAV industry. So, how can you be green? And can you make money doing it? This keynote will spell out EXACTLY what is green and what isn’t, where the money is and where it isn’t and what AV gear is green and what isn’t. The keynote will earn CTS holders 1 InfoComm RU. The E4 AV Tour is free and includes presentations from other industry experts and an exhibit floor with manufacturers presenting new products. rAVe NOW will also be covering the show, posting videos and blogs here: https://www.ravepubs.com/e4
Industry’s First Green Survey Results
|AMX has conducted what is believed to be the ProAV industry’s first survey addressing clients’ interest in GreenAV technology. Although unscientific for sure, the survey yielded some obvious good news for those of you out there who’ve started to embrace the GreenAV movement. Nearly 50 percent of the integrators surveyed said their clients are “very interested” in energy management solutions in the AV market. So, what’s this mean? Well, as GreenAV solutions are growing (and are more profitable), you should consider promoting this in your marketing efforts to clients – it’s a differentiator.|
Lutron Intros $299 Battery-Powered Shades Automated shades may quickly become mainstream with Lutron’s release of battery-powered, affordable Sivoia QS Wireless cellular shades. Featuring patent-pending Triathlon Battery Life technology (which the company claim has a battery life of three years using regular D cell batteries), the new shades work with Lutron’s RadioRA 2 and HomeWorks QS home control systems as well as Lutron’s GRAFIK Eye QS. They also have a stand-alone system (no control system required). The honeycomb design has air pockets that help provide insulation and energy efficiency; this coupled with the long battery life make these shades a green product. Currently, there are three options:
- Infrared remote version starting at $299
- Lutron’s Pico wireless remote control version starting at $324
- Sivoia QS system version (compatible with HomeWorks QS, RadioRA 2 and GRAFIK Eye QS) starting at $424
Savant SmartEnergy Monitor Debuts at CEDIA Savant Systems has announced the introduction of the SmartEnergy Monitor model SEM-1024, the first in a series of energy management products from Savant. SmartEnergy technology measures energy usage and production in real-time and can also deliver historical usage data from multiple energy management devices, empowering homeowners and facilities managers alike with critical information. Savant’s SmartEnergy Monitor enables users to reduce energy costs by monitoring how and when specific devices draw power — particularly during peak pricing or load periods. Here are all the details: http://www.savantav.com/energy_management.aspx Leave a Comment Share Article
Auralex Intros New Acoustical Panel Line Dubbed the HD Cinema Series, a new line of acoustical panels, designed in a variety of unique shapes, sizes and colors, from Auralex are all-fabric-wrapped fiberglass panels that are specifically designed to fit into any home décor. Providing an overall Noise Coefficient Rating (NRC) of 1.05, Auralex’s HD Cinema Series is available in several shapes and hundreds of custom colors. Each shape is available in an assortment of sizes in order to cater to various rooms’ acoustical needs and aesthetic designs, such as Ruby 36 and Ruby 48 trapezoidal shaped panels, Diamond 24 and Diamond 30 diamond shaped panels, Emerald 24 and Emerald 36 rectangular shaped panels, Emerald 48 square shaped panel, Sapphire S36 and Sapphire S48 single arched panels, and Sapphire D36 and Sapphire D48 double arched panels. For complete specs and options, go here: http://www.auralex.com/hdcinema/ Leave a Comment Share Article
Eragy Updates Watt’s On Now! Eragy’s new Watt’s On Now! application for Control4 systems is downloadable for free directly from Control4’s 4Store Application Marketplace, or dealers can opt for the paid version, which is available from Eragy-certified Control4 dealers in the U.S. and Canada. The free version of Watt’s On Now! provides users with an easy way to visualize lighting, climate control and audio/video systems and quickly become engaged in their home energy usage. The paid version of the App adds monitoring of their whole house energy consumption as well as energy used by individual appliances and circuits within their homes. And, of course, you can monitor all energy usage from a TV screen, iPad, Control4 touch screen, smart phone or web browser. To read all about it, go here: http://www.4store.com/?q=node/45&appid=4451654894da862aeda9b58.44008718 Leave a Comment Share Article
Panasonic Launches 2800 Lumen 1080p Projector Panasonic today announced the PT-AR100U, an LCD-based 1920×1080 resolution projector, spec’d at 2800 lumens of brightness and a 50,000:1 contrast ratio. Using a new type of lamp technology — a high-power, 280-watt, red-rich lamp — the projector includes 2x optical zoom, two HDMI inputs, one VGA port and horizontal and vertical lens shift. It also has an Eco-mode that allows the projector to use less than one watt of power when in standby but still enough power to wake it up via an IP connection for control, with a total of 350 watts when showing a completely white image. The new 8 pound PT-AR100U will ship next month and will list for $2,000. Details can be found here: http://panasonic.net/avc/projector/products/ar100/ Leave a Comment Share Article
Runco’s Short Throw Home Theater Projector Debuts Runco’s new $20,000, 540 ANSI Lumen, LED-based LightStyle LS-100d projector is one of the first short throw home theater projectors. Using Runco’s NEAR (Next generation Extreme Aligned Reflection) ultra-short throw (UST) lens system, it’s capable of delivering a 92-inch diagonal image from only 18 inches away from the wall. It can be mounted above or below the screen and uses DLP projection technology. Capable of projecting images from component video or HDMI inputs, the 1920x1080p native resolution LS-100d uses 70 percent less power than conventional UHP-lamp based projection technologies and uses less than 1 watt of power in standby mode and around 300 watts in normal use. Details are here: http://www.runco.com/products/projectors/dlp/lightstyle-portfolio/LightSyle_LS-100d Leave a Comment Share Article
NEC Adds 20″ Teacher Reference Monitor That Works Great in DS Applications Too Las week, NEC quietly launched a 20″ monitor dubbed the EX201W – an ultra-thin (16.4mm bezel depth) LED-lit LCD-based desktop monitor that offers extensive viewing angles (176°H/170°V) and contrast ratio (25,000:1 dynamic, 1000:1 typical). It weighs only 4.9 lbs. without the stand and uses less than 21 watts. The 1600×900 native resolution monitor has both DVI and DisplayPort inputs, an eco-mode and an ambient light sensor. But, what’s interesting about this it’s not only a good option for a back-of-the-room reference monitor for teachers, but it could also work as a kiosk-based digital signage display. It’s thin, inexpensive, light and very high-quality – and can run 24 hours a day with very low power draw. The MultiSync EX201W ships with a three-year limited parts and labor warranty and will be available in September 2011 at an estimated street price of $229. The ST-EX2023-BK portable stand kit, SC-EX20 and SC-EX23 accessories are available now at an estimated street price of $39.99, $29.99 and $29.99, respectively. Details are here: http://www.necdisplay.com/p/ex201w-bk Leave a Comment Share Article
Well, that’s it for this edition of rAVe GreenAV Edition! Thank you for spending time with us as we muse the industry’s happenings. To continue getting my newsletter, or to sign up a friend, click the link below. To send feedback, don’t reply to this newsletter – instead, write to Publisher Gary Kayye at email@example.com or Editor-in-Chief Sara Abrons at firstname.lastname@example.org A little about Gary Kayye, CTS, founder of rAVe and Kayye Consulting. Gary Kayye, an audiovisual veteran and columnist, began the widely-read KNews, a premier industry newsletter, in the late 1990s, and created the model for and was co-founder of AV Avenue – which later became InfoComm IQ. Kayye Consulting is a company that is committed to furthering the interests and success of dealers, manufacturers, and other companies within the professional audiovisual industry. rAVe Pro Edition launched in February 2003. rAVe Home Edition, co-sponsored by CEDIA, launched in February 2004. rAVe Rental [and Staging] launched in November 2007. rAVe Ed [Education] began publication in May 2008. rAVe DS [Digital Signage] launched in January 2009. This publication, rAVe GreenAV, was launched in August 2010. Subscribe to our newsletters! https://www.ravepubs.com To read more about my background, our staff, and what we do, go to https://www.ravepubs.com
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