Last year, Jim Urbanski, Energy Manager at Wicomico County Public Schools in Maryland, spent 20 hours each week scheduling heating and air conditioning for after-school events. This year he spends just 20 minutes to schedule two weeks of events. That is a 99% reduction in labor hours, and he isn’t done yet.
Urbanski started working at Wicomico five years ago and quickly realized that they were running HVAC systems late into the night to make sure rooms were comfortable for evening events scheduled at their 24 schools. He knew the school system was losing money, wasting energy, and causing unnecessary wear and tear on their HVAC systems. So he changed the HVAC schedules to cover only the school day and began manually scheduling after-hours events – 17,000 of them in the 2013-2014 school year.
“I actually built the monster myself,” Urbanski said. “Because when I shortened up the occupied time to end at the end of the school day, anything that happened after the school day I now had to put in as an exception schedule. It was well worth the money we were saving in energy, but it was taking about 20 hours per week to do the scheduling.”
“It [Events2HVAC] is a lot cheaper than a head count increase. Nobody has to pay benefits or send this program to the doctor.” (Jim Urbanski)
Before discovering Events2HVAC, Urbanski said he and the school administrators had been discussing hiring a part-time employee to come in and do the HVAC scheduling.
“But then we found this [Events2HVAC],” Urbanski said, “and this is a lot cheaper than a head count increase. Nobody has to pay benefits or send this program to the doctor.”
Like many K-12 school districts, Wicomico often rents out their auditoriums, gyms, and other spaces for community events such as plays or concerts. Then there are the PTA meetings, sports practices and games, and other events that are scheduled as part of school functions. For each event, Urbanski often had to schedule several different pieces of HVAC equipment. Urbanski looked up one event last week that would have required him to enter nine different equipment schedules. But because he is using Events2HVAC, he didn’t have to enter anything at all.
“The first couple of weeks I had it [Events2HVAC] in there, I was sitting here twiddling my thumbs saying ‘All right, how am I going to fill this time?’” (Jim Urbanski)
“The first couple of weeks I had it [Events2HVAC] in there,” Urbanski said, “I was sitting here twiddling my thumbs saying ‘All right, how am I going to fill this time?’ Not that I didn’t have enough to do, but I had to re-think my day. Here it is Monday, and I am supposed to be scheduling all day, but look, I can go out and do something more important.”
There are currently 160 school rooms controlled automatically with Events2HVAC across the 400-square mile county. Urbanski said he focused on getting his auditoriums into Events2HVAC first because they are kept in unoccupied mode. Even if the school wanted to use them during the day he had to schedule them. Since the auditoriums are scheduled almost every day, and there are many pieces of equipment serving each auditorium, Urbanski estimated automating them cut about 50% of his scheduling time.
Next he focused on getting the gyms, cafeterias, and media centers into Events2HVAC because they are often used after hours by the schools and for community events. Then he looked in Dean Evans EMS to see which classrooms were scheduled most often after school, and began putting those into Events2HVAC.
“Before, to get to that level of savings we had to do it manually. This has automated all that, which gives even more savings because half of someone’s year is not being spent scheduling.” (Jim Urbanski)
Urbanski said that during the first week of September 2014, there were 54 after-hours events scheduled automatically by Events2HVAC at Wicomico County Public Schools. But some events require running several different pieces of HVAC equipment, so there were at least 110 different schedules that he did not have to enter into the building automation system. Events2HVAC took care of it for him.
Though the time savings is truly outstanding, Urbanski does not expect Events2HVAC to reap any energy savings or savings due to less wear and tear on HVAC equipment because he had already reaped those benefits by manually scheduling after-hours events.
“This [Events2HVAC] has just automated that savings,” Urbanski said. “Before, to get to that level of savings we had to do it manually. This has automated all that, which gives even more savings because half of someone’s year is not being spent scheduling.”