Turning to Tech
Groveport Recreation Center in Groveport, Ohio
By Deborah L. Vence
A few years ago, the Groveport Recreation Center in Ohio needed to find a better way to manage its operations.
"The city felt that there was a need to really get a grip on what was going on with the facilities," said Tom Byrne, director of facilities for the city of Groveport.
To find out how efficiently the city's facilities were running, including city offices, the town hall and the golf course, Dynamix Energy Services—owned by Columbus, Ohio-based Dynamix Engineering Ltd.—was hired to conduct an energy audit for Groveport in 2013.
"I've been on board for three years. [At the time of the audit], there were five directors running seven facilities. Each director did their own thing within their facility," Byrne said.
During his first walkthrough at the recreation center, a more than 60,000-square-foot facility that includes a fitness center, indoor pool and indoor track, Byrne said he knew from an energy and mechanical standpoint that the building was inefficient.
"So, we started a relationship with Dynamix Engineering and did a report on all of our facilities. The biggest energy waster was the recreation center," he said.
"When they went in, they did a full investigation of all lighting systems and mechanical systems," he said. "And, part of the package that we bought from Dynamix was the FMX, computer-aided facilities management system," which the center has been using for the last two years. (Facilities Management eXpress, LLC, or FMX, which was created in 2012, is a separate company from Dynamix Engineering. FMX provides workflow management solutions.)
"This gave us something to track everything we do in the facility. Directors are still involved and how we want to run the facility. They don't have to go through me to do everything they want to do. They can go into the [system] and schedule different areas through the system," Byrne explained.
For example, if building activities are scheduled for certain times of the day, the system can be set so the lights come on 15 minutes beforehand.
"We don't have mechanical systems running 24 hours a day. They go to sleep, so to speak," Byrne said. "The heating and cooling systems, that's the biggest energy savings we have. As far as the pumps for the pools and heating and ambient air temperature, those are monitored and shut down as needed. They are not constantly running just because they don't have automation on. [It has] saved us a tremendous amount of money—running at 54 percent savings—at the Groveport Recreation Center."
Overall, operations are running more efficiently for the center. All the mechanical systems have installed frequency drives on motors and pumps, which allows the motors to run at 50 or 60 percent. The benefit of this makes it so that they are not running and putting as much load on the pumps.
Anyone on Byrne's staff can log in and take care of a variety of tasks, too, including work orders, maintenance requests and event scheduling, noted Jamie Gregory, marketing director at FMX.
And, if you want to host an event, you can log into the FMX system and reserve the space that you want to use for building activities. The heating systems are tied in as well. They automatically turn on through a building automation system (BAS).
Moreover, any problems that might occur will be identified right away.
If a work order request was made for cooling, for instance, but the system didn't turn on, that's picked up and sent right to Dynamix. The advantage is that they can go online and troubleshoot the system from their office, which is located about 15 miles from Groveport, Byrne said, adding that basic building requests are sent right to his office, letting him know what the problem is.
"I can then put that request through one of the maintenance guys and check it off, and close out the request," he said.
Each month Byrne receives a report on energy savings. For the month of March this year at the recreation center, for example, $7,000 was saved just in electrical costs, and $318.23 in gas.
"This whole project had an eight-year payback," he said.