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A Word from Our Owners – BSU Residence Halls

George Edwards – Associate Director of Housing and Residence Life Facilities at Ball State University

Joel Bynum – Assistant Director for Coordination of Living Learning Programs at Ball State University

Ball State Residence Halls

When did Ball State University decide to implement the Living Learning Community model in their residence halls and why?

It’s a long history, but I’ll try to make it short. In 1998, Ball State University started offering Living Learning Communities as part of a larger first-year student experience. We called it Freshman Connections. At that time, first-year students were registered into shared sections of core curriculum courses with students they lived with together in their residence hall. These students taking classes together and living together in the same hall formed Freshmen Connection cohorts or learning communities. The Freshman Connection model still existed in 2006, but there was a new push to assign students to live together in cohorts who shared the same college or major–Honors College, Criminal Justice majors, Communications majors, etc.–while still utilizing the core course connection model. We also provided co-curricular programmatic support to address social needs and interests.

When I started in 2011, we started to push towards all the living-learning communities on our campus being major-oriented, not just ‘interest-based’. Students who were living together shared an interest in study abroad, exercise, eating healthy, leadership, etc. Now, our living-learning communities are solely college- or major-based with direct academic partners.

Around 2016, we discontinued Freshman Connections and no longer connect our students based on core curriculum, rather we connect them based on the entry-level courses related directly to their major. It was this shift to being intentional about supporting students academically in their major, as well as socially, that started to shift our thinking about including amenity spaces like discipline-oriented makerspaces into our residence hall design.

We started this to support university retention efforts and to assist students in their academic success. We know the more involved a student is on campus, whether participating in an organization or holding a campus job, knowing faculty or staff, having mentors, friends in their same major, etc., the more likely they are to continue with their education and graduate on time. In light of this data, we decided to provide a richer academic and skill development-oriented experience. In addition, we are improving faculty and staff support in these environments to be more conducive to what our students came here to study. The students who participate in our programs are significantly more likely to retain to the building with these amenities as well as retain to university and graduate on time.

What implications does the Living Learning Community have on the overall design?

It doesn’t really change how we do the ‘rooms’, but it greatly impacts the common spaces. Around 2010, in Schmidt/Wilson before it was renovated, the top floor penthouse was a open space with equipment for Emerging Media students. It wasn’t very big and was a bit of a pilot. Students really liked it and used the equipment for classes, personal projects, and to hang out.

Later, I got linked with Dr. Kate Shively, who introduced me to the concept of ‘makerspaces’ that was beginning to catch on and has now taken off on campuses and in communities all over the nation. Dr. Shively teaches first-year Elementary Education courses at Ball State and wanted a makerspace for her students studying education. We reconditioned some under-utilized lounge space to make that makerspace, and the students love to use it, especially in relationship to what they are learning in the classroom with Dr. Shively.

Around this time, we were starting to look at renovating Botsford/Swinford and wanted to build in a makerspace for the Communications and Emerging Media students who would be living there. Now there are two media studios and a large equipment storage area stocked with DSLR cameras, light kits, sounds kits and all sort of gear for students to check out and use as an amenity associated with living in this community. The students can study in the space or use the green screens and open space to rearrange furniture and set up video shoots and use the computers right there to edit. All of this is available to students living in this community before they have completed their communications gateway courses, which allows students in these majors to start developing their skills earlier and allows them to immediately get their hands on equipment to start making a thing.

BotsSwin - Living Learning Community

Botsford/Swinford Residence Hall

Gen Z students want to have hands-on experience now. While we can’t teach the class, we can provide equipment, some basic workshop instruction, and space for them to start learning on their own immediately. For those students who might need a little nudge, we provide opportunities for students to engage in major-oriented or skill-oriented co-curricular projects. The success was so strong, we decided to do a dance studio, design studio, and black box theater for our Theatre, Dance, Architecture, Art and Design majors in the next residence hall, Schmidt/Wilson. The students love having these specialized spaces where they live to practice in, to work in or to play with something new in line with their studies.

Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall - Living learning

Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall

 

What feedback are you hearing from students?

We haven’t put out a survey or anything like that until right now, but anecdotally, there has been a transformation on campus and there are now students coming to Ball State University for the learning communities. The students want to live in the buildings that are connected to their major. It has shifted the conversation to “I want to live here because of the amenity”, not because of its location or age of building. It’s because they want access to the amenity spaces related to their area of study.

Before any experience with Ball State University, prospective students are asking about the learning communities, not the residence hall. It’s exciting to see. We don’t know what all it means yet, or what it will lead to, but it’s positive feedback. It’s not just defining the experience a student has here, but before they even get here.

Do you have any measurable data on the effect the Living Learning Community model has on student recruitment or retention?

I don’t have data about how the space impacts the student’s decision, but we have some very basic use data from the Botsford/Swinford equipment storage area. The first year it wasn’t used much, but the response from students was positive about having the space. Equipment use has more than tripled since then. and we have had to keep adding equipment to the space to keep up with demand. The use data drives the decision of what other equipment we need to buy.

When we opened Botsford/Swinford, which is on the edge of campus and has traditionally been a hard sell to get students to want to live there, the question was whether they would want to return their Sophomore year. We were nervous as to whether this would retain students, but this building now has one of the highest return rates of freshman to sophomore year on campus, despite the location.

Overall, the retention to buildings with makerspaces is significantly higher than those without. Student participation in Living Learning Communities on our campus has been recognized by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness as one the leading predictors for student retention on our campus.

Describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates?

In my role as the Assistant Director of Living Learning Communities, typically I would not have had a seat at the table in a new building or renovation design. Not because my opinion isn’t valued, but generally my role is not one of decision maker in matters of building design. When the idea for a specifically designed amenity came across, Schmidt Associates asked questions to seek an understanding of what was needed in the space and how the space would be used to inform its design. From my perspective, I enjoyed the process because it felt like we were creating something new, something tailored to Ball State University. I had the opportunity to sit at a table I don’t usually sit at and appreciated the questions Schmidt Associates asked about how to design a space that would fit our needs. Equally, I am appreciative of my Ball State University Housing leadership and facilities colleagues for allowing me the opportunity to speak directly to Schmidt Associates about my vision for how the space would be used. I very much see the product of those conversations in the design elements of our spaces.

I think after the early design conversations, we got into the nitty gritty details about where to put focal points, sound treatment, electrical outlets, etc. It was new to me, but I appreciated going through the process because I learned a lot about how the design process works and was able to help shape and form the building. The questions asked drove what the space would be, and how students would actually use and experience the space to ensure it was functional and would add value.

The Effects of Natural Daylight

Daylight - Marian University

It’s not a secret — it is scientifically proven that we, as humans, thrive best when we have access to sunlight. If you are having a long and stressful day at work, a walk around the block is a good way to clear the mind. Restaurants with outdoor seating tend to be packed during those sunny, 75-degree days. Homes typically include large living room windows that allow sunlight to coming flooding in.

When designing for an academic space, whether K-12 or higher education, keeping this biophilic factor in mind is essential in producing an effective learning environment.

Design considerations:

  • Include large, floor to ceiling windows in common spaces like cafeterias/dining halls, library and media centers, hallways on the upper level floor, etc.
Daylighting - media center and dining hall

Left: West Lafayette Intermediate School Media Center | Right: Marian University Dining Hall

  • Utilize glass walls between interior spaces adjacent to a room or hallway that includes plenty of windows. To add privacy, use clearstory windows or semi-transparent glass that will allow light to pass from space to space.
Daylight - expandable walls

Clark Middle School – Expandable glass walls between classroom and hallway let light flow throughout a large space

  • High, small, frosted windows in gyms/fieldhouses allow natural light to come into the space without resulting in glare on the court. Include windows near cardio machines in campus’ fitness center to give runners a little sense of being outdoors.
Daylight in gym and fitness center

Left: Plainfield High School Fieldhouse | Right: DePauw University Lilly Center

  • Residence hall bedrooms can feel a little tight and stuffy to students, but providing large windows for daylight to spill throughout common areas will help give them a sense of relief.
Daylight residence hall

Left: University of Indianapolis – Greyhound Village | Right: Ball State University – Schmidt/Wilson Residence Hall

  • The second-best option is LED lighting if a space is limited in natural light potential. Sunlight and full-spectrum LEDs expose people to blue light wavelengths, which has a positive impact on our hormonal levels compared to other lighting systems.
Daylight - LED lighting

Before & After LED Retrofit at Bunker Hill Elementary

 

Benefits of natural daylight:

  • Positively impacts cognitive performance, resulting in better test results, information retention, and productivity levels. The U.S. Department of Education states that classrooms with the most daylighting saw a 20% better learning rate in math and 26% better in reading when compared to classrooms with little to no daylight.
  • Sunlight increases levels of serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved moods and overall mental health of students.
  • Daylight helps regulate circadian rhythms, reducing stress and enhancing the brain’s readiness to learn.
  • Provides opportunity for sensory change, giving students a mental break from what’s going on in the classroom. These short mental breaks help students stay focused and motivated. It is proven that the opportunity to interact with the natural world is particularly helpful to kids with ADD/ADHD, which effects an estimated 1 million children.

Introducing natural daylight into schools for maximum benefits needs to be done in a controlled and responsive manner. Proper building orientation means maximizing southern and northern exposures and minimizing east and west exposures. Worried about the energy costs and thermal comfort issues that come along with a wall full of windows? This is the importance of engineers to help design with tools for energy savings. Exterior shading devices, elements that push daylight deeper into the building, and proper interior window treatments can be incorporated.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can incorporate natural daylight into your existing space or your next projects – give us a call!

Designing for Generation Z

Generation Z, the 60-some million young people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, are the most diverse group in our country’s history.

They grew up during times of recessions and financial crises, war and terror threats, and technology overload. Many of them knew how to operate a tablet or cellphone before they could put sentences together. They don’t remember a life without social media and spend up to nine hours a day consuming media. They have a rather short attention span and it can difficult to keep them engaged. In the next ten years, it is estimated that Gen Z will consist of 22% of the workforce and many will be working in jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Generation Z Workforce Percentage

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Gen Z workers are more competitive and pragmatic, but also more anxious and reserved, than millennials, the generation of 72 million born from 1981 to 1996, according to executives, managers, generational consultants and multidecade studies of young people.”

Learning how to design for Generation Z will be essential in the longevity of our communities, facilities, and workplaces. So what design features will help attract and retain this large cohort?

Choice and Input

It’s easy: let them be a part of the design process, ask them to give input on what they want and expect, and then simply listen to what they have to say. One of the easiest ways to connect with this generation is through making them feel like their voices are heard. Designers can bring them idea starters and guidelines to get conversation going but try to immerse yourself into their world if you want a truly successful project. You can do this through focus groups, community engagement events, social media polls, and project blogs/websites.

Of special note, long-term choice is essential. Design should allow for variation over the life of a building, allowing the space to be tailored to each user’s preferences:

  • Robust power – consider a raised floor
  • Expansive wi-fi
  • Furniture that is movable – think everything on wheels, closable pods, and sitting/standing desks
Technology-Rich Spaces

As the baby boomers are retiring and Gen Z starts to fill in the gaps, technology will follow them. The places they live, work, and play need to reflect a lifestyle they are accustomed to: attached to hand-held supercomputers which provide instant communication with others. This diverse and mobile group will crave a digital connection to the world. In terms of the workplace, an office setting should include technology that will seamlessly allow staff to work from home (or a coffee shop across the world) but also enhanced video conferencing from anywhere. With good lighting and acoustics along with the ability to easily share documents and control, the office can be anywhere.

As designers, we need to think of technology that will help the facilities operate longer yet efficiently. Because Gen Z is predicted to put in a lot of hours in the office, the building systems will need to run differently than the regular 8-5pm. Allowing small spaces to be controlled and operated as needed without requiring the entire facility to be in operation will result in lower energy costs.

Flexibility

This generation works really hard, but they want some playtime as well. If you are going to create a flexible work environment, including staff who work remotely, creating a gathering space is essential for retention and overall job satisfaction. One design idea is to create a comfortable commons area filled with homey furniture, a coffee bar, and plenty of natural light. This type of space will allow Gen Z workers to take a brain break and socialize before getting back to the grind. Filling a space with familiar furniture pieces will ease anxiety and gives everyone a space to feel connected to peers.

We don’t all work the same, and an office won’t likely be comprised solely of Gen Z’ers. Design a workplace that has multiple types of rooms with varying functionality and privacy. If you can handle working in an open concept area, great! If you also need to get away from the hustle and bustle to really concentrate, great! If you need that ability to meet with a couple team members for a quick collaboration session away from your desks, great! If you need to meet with several people from around the office and need a more formal setting with technology, that’s great too!

Genuine Feel

This is a big one to keep in mind when you are looking to put your roots down for a new project. This generation gravitates toward places, people, and things that feel real, predictable, and safe. If you are wanting to attract and retain the Generation Z population, start by looking for a location that has its own sense of culture. Your building or space should come from and build on its history and the community naturally. Furthermore, your space should promote general well-being for users. Historic areas and neighborhoods are a big hit with this generation, leaving a lot of good potential for adaptive reuse projects. Staying true to the story makes the work resonate – do not to cut out the charm of the old while designing the new. The pre-packaged, Instagram filter world has ended, and Generation Z is seeking a genuine experience.

Choosing a location that is walkable and bikeable with nearby restaurants and attractions, grocery stores, and hotels will draw in more people. This goes for any type of building in the urban mix, from office space to apartments to mixed-use developments.

Once you have a location, make sure to include biophilic design features that promote happiness and health. Generation Z is very conscious of their mental and physical health—promoting that connection back to nature within a building will relate well with those users.

Inclusivity

Generation Z is a beautiful ethnically-diverse population, which is important to keep in mind when designing communities and buildings for them. Not everyone experiences a space the same, in part due to their culture and all that comes along with their unique backgrounds. Connecting back to “choice and input”, you will get the information that you need to ensure a space is inclusive if Gen Z’ers are included in the process.

 

It is time to prepare and adapt for future generations, allowing their influences to permeate through the built environment to stay relevant and competitive in the world. We should admire and enhance their creativity, empathetic attitudes, desire to feel connection, and heads-down work mentality with the spaces we provide. With the help of Generation Z, we should create communities and spaces that harness that same energy and drive toward success. If you want to more specifics on how to design for Gen Z, give us a call!

What are the Roles of a Design/Build Team?

Typically there are three primary team members on a design/build project. They include the Owner, the criteria developer, and the design/build (D/B) contractor. Each one is explained in more detail below:

1. Owner

•  Work with criteria developer to capture needs and desires in criteria documents/contract documents
•  Implement a process to select D/B contractor
•  Work with D/B contractor to finalize design and construction (sometimes through criteria developer/project manager)
•  Communicate changing needs to D/B contractor
•  Participate in punch list process
•  Move in and enjoy the new facility

2. Criteria Developer

•  Work with Owner personnel and stakeholders to draft criteria documents/contract documents
•  Sometimes hired to represent the Owner throughout construction and review design/construction/completion activities
•  May review pay applications and change orders and assist Owner in the punch list process
•  Advise Owner on contractual matters and D/B contractor compliance with contract
•  Assist Owner to maintain budget integrity

3. Design/Build Contractor 

•  Provide qualifications proposal and initial renderings to demonstrate their vision of compliance with the criteria documents
•  Confirm pricing with subcontractors that meets design criteria
•  Provide scope compliance information and agree on cost with Owner
•  Design the project using qualified design professionals and obtain Owner approval of code- compliant design that meets the criteria documents
•  Design team maintains engagement in project throughout construction
•  Construct the project, draft changes, punch out and complete the facility
•  Maintain budget and schedule throughout the duration of the project
•  Provide clear and regular communication with Owner on project status and any changes
•  Obtain good reference from satisfied Owner

So, why should an Owner select design/build?

  1. Single source of accountability – this goes for design and construction
  2. Budget management – discussing budget throughout the duration of design
  3. Enhanced communication – early and ongoing communications between Owner, design contractor, and subcontractor(s)
  4. Faster project completion – can shorten overall schedule since construction starts while design is being completed

If you have more questions or want to get started on your next project with us, reach out!

 

Q&A Session with Cindy McLoed

Ask most architects in Indianapolis where they went to school… they will most likely say Ball State. But not Cindy McLoed! Cindy’s architectural allegiance is to Mississippi State University, home of the Bulldogs.

 

 

 

Why Mississippi State University?
I was born in Mississippi, and my Dad’s side of the family is firmly rooted in Starkville (home to Mississippi State University). I grew up going to all the games and have always been surrounded by family who are fans.

It seems like I always knew that I was going to be an architect. I have always loved buildings. Even when I was playing with toys as a child, I was more interested in creating the buildings and spaces for them. Artistically, most kids would draw a picture of their house while I was busy creating the spaces from building blocks and anything that I could find. Since Mississippi State had an accredited School of Architecture, it only made sense that I go to school there. My son, Oliver, is also attending State now, and we still go down to many of the games and follow the teams.

And you are still connected to the area as well?
My family owns property in the Starkville area. My dad started a 300-acre managed tree farm in the 1960s growing Loblolly Pine Trees. It is now a family company with shared ownership between my parents and us “kids”. We are certified by the American Tree Farm System which promotes responsible forest management for private forests. Basically, they set standards for wildlife habitats and managed growth plans emphasizing staged harvest with no clear cuts. In my lifetime, I have seen giant trees come down, but they have always been followed with new ones coming up.

Tell me about your family.
I married Marty in 1994, and we have two kids—Oliver (18) and Neely (21). Marty works in IT for LSC Communications and is always working on our home or landscape projects. As mentioned, Oliver graduated from Brownsburg High School and is attending Mississippi State—majoring in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture with a focus in Conservation Law Enforcement. Neely is getting a degree in Ministry Leadership and went to Guatemala in August 2018 for long-term mission work. My furry children are Yogi and Yeager, two Golden Doodles. They have their own Instagram account—@yogiandyeager.

Do you collect anything?
I had an awesome neon collection in college. We would find abandoned neon at old buildings around town and create new arrangements with the tubes. The thing many people don’t know is that there is an art to learning the wire neon. I definitely got shocked a few times learning to do it. Unfortunately, the transformers were all made out of lead, so I got rid of all the neon and transformers when I had kids. Now my collecting is a bit less adventurous—I collect patches from places we have visited.

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
Beyond the mess, I have a Mississippi State banner. Being an out-of-state trained architect, I like to show my allegiance and love for my school.

If you ever have architectural questions, want more Golden Doodles pictures, or are a Mississippi State fan — give Cindy a call!

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantPhil MedleyLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie LaytonAnna Marie Burrell, Kyle MillerSteve SchaecherMyrisha Colston Drew Morgan, Steve Spangler, and Bill Gruen

Saving Money Through Building Controls and Optimization

Presentation by Bill Gruen and Andrew Eckrich – 2019 IAPPA Meeting, hosted by Independent Colleges of Indiana

Bill and Andrew explain what building controls are, define terminology associated with a building’s life cycle, and give a couple examples of how we’ve saved our Owners money through energy and optimization services:

5 Ways to Improve School Safety through Site Design

Physical design features are only one piece of enhancing school safety and security that we—as designers—can directly play a part in. School Corporations regularly tell us student and staff safety are their top priority when taking on a new project, as it is ours as well.

School safety includes crime prevention as well as traffic safety. Looking at the outside of a school, we have 5 main ways to improve school safety through site design alone:

1. Fencing

  • Fencing helps to designate a sense of place, maintain lines of site, and restrict access to areas of the school that might not be highly visible.
  • Fences around playground areas help keep kids in a safe area while running around at recess, separate the “little kids” from the “big kids”, and keeps others out. Including fencing around vehicular areas, providing separation between walkways and drop-off/pick-up areas, can help to keep kids from darting into traffic.
  • Choose a material that is easy to see through but difficult to climb or vandalize—often wrought iron or ornamental fencing.
West Lafayette New Intermediate School - Fenced Playground

West Lafayette New Intermediate School – Fenced Playground

2. Security system

  • Include real-time security on the premises that local police can have access to in the event of an emergency.
  • Making the security cameras highly visible can also deter criminal activity before it starts.

3. Management of access points

  • Create a welcoming main entrance to the building through a secure vestibule which leads directly to the main reception area. Access into school corridors are controlled from here. Including card readers to monitor when a door is being opened and by who also helps with access control.
  • Limit the number of access points so school personnel can better monitor the comings and goings throughout the school day.
  • Physically separate school bus drive, parent drop-off/pick-up routes, and parking areas to help alleviate the chance of traffic-related issues. Clearly mark all separate areas with signs and include traffic flow directions for clear orientation. This is helpful in guiding students, parents, and emergency personnel.
Battell Elementary School, School City of Mishawaka – Secure Entry Technology

Battell Elementary School, School City of Mishawaka – Secure Entry Technology

4. Natural surveillance – maximize visibility from within

  • Give people who might consider committing a crime on the school grounds a sense that they are being watched. This alone can help prevent crimes from occurring in the first place.
  • There should be clear lines of sight from road/parking lot/entry for school personnel. Make sure any landscape elements are maintained and trimmed regularly so bushes or trees do not block this line of sight.
  • Include windows in main office area so staff can monitor parking lots and entry walkways.
  • Sufficient exterior lighting eliminates potential hiding spots and increases overall visibility from school personnel.

5. Territoriality

  • By creating a well-defined and appealing exterior, incoming visitors will know they are coming into a protected, cared for, and proud space. This can be done through:
    • Clear, recognizable main entry.
    • Exterior door numbering for the public and authorities in emergency.
    • Utilizing school colors to define walking spaces from vehicular traffic areas.
    • Landscaping elements like shrubs, trees, stones, and fencing that are low to the ground for visibility and well maintained.
    • Site signage that clearly identifies school name, front entry, and other specific destinations such as athletic fields and performing arts entries.
  • Ongoing maintenance is important, such as repairing and updating doors and windows before they begin to “really show their age”.
  • Landscape elements should be low to the ground or have a high canopy to prevent spaces that can’t be supervised or monitored.

LaPorte High School – Performing Arts Center Entrance

There are many approaches to take when it comes to improving school safety through design, this is in no way a be-all-end-all list. Each school has a unique site and a specific set of needs, but these five simple tactics can be used as part of an overall strategy.

It is also important to note there are no school safety measures that are 100% reliable—despite the best plans and precautions. Please reach out if you are interested in learning about what is best for your school, have questions, or would like additional safety tips. Our K-12 team is ready to work for and with you!

Demystifying the Terminology

There are a lot of terms to understand in the construction, building operations, and maintenance world. You may often notice engineering lingo is thrown around as if everyone knows what each term or phrase means. A core focus at Schmidt Associates is ensuring the buildings we design and construct are done so to the highest possible degree of energy efficiency, all while informing our Owners about our process and making them comfortable with the end results. So, what are some of these terms that you will come across and what is the difference between them?

Below, we’ve outlined the basics of a handful of the most common terms we use:

Retro-Commissioning (RCx)
  • This is a service that is meant to return the building to the design intent. During retro-commissioning, the contractor learns the building systems and how they are operating and compares them to the design drawings to determine if they are operating efficiently. All efforts are made to get the building back into its design condition; these efforts are documented for the Owner’s records.
  • Can identify repair and rehabilitation (R&R) project
Utility Analysis
  • A crucial first step in any facility assessment which helps bring attention to the most energy- and cost-intense buildings in a customer’s portfolio.
  • Use data already in-hand to assemble easy-to-read graphs and compare similar buildings to one another.
  • Benchmark buildings against regional and national averages using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager
  • Use data to understand the past and target improvements for the future!

Left graph: Buildings ranked from highest to lowest energy intensity (energy per ft2) | Right graph: Those same buildings ranked from highest to lowest cost intensity ($ per ft2, in red). Annual utility cost ($ per year, in green) is also shown. Together, these graphs tell the “energy story” of the whole campus!

Energy Rebates
  • Utilities incentivize efficient equipment to the point that it (when fully installed) costs the same as “standard” equipment. The efficient equipment then slashes your operational costs.
  • Type #1 – Custom / New Construction
    • Usually paid on a $$$ per kWh (or therm) saved based on first year savings
    • ~$100,000 rebate cap per project, but can be higher in some cases
    • Use for non-one-for-one replacement or more complex renovation projects
    • May involve multiple systems or a Building Energy Model approach
    • New construction programs may also be a part of the custom program, or it may be separate
    • Apply prior to contract execution or material purchase
  • Type #2 – Prescriptive
    • Usually paid on a $ per lighting fixture or per ton of efficient HVAC equipment installed
    • ~$50,000 rebate cap per project
    • Usually a one-for-one replacement or retrofit
    • Apply after project is complete within 60-90 days
  • Type #3 – Energy Studies
    • Utility companies also offer assistance to pay for energy efficiency studies
    • Energy upgrades in response to these studies can then be incentivized via Prescriptive or Custom Rebates!
  • To learn more about energy rebates, check out this blog, and call us with any questions!
Commissioning (Cx)
  • Performed directly after construction, and ensures all systems are operating the way they were designed to operate.
  • Professional service performed by a third party, not the designer.

OPR: Owner Project Requirement | BOD: Basis of Design Authority | CxA: Commissioning Agent

Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing (TAB)
  • A systematic process or service applied to HVAC systems and other environmental systems to achieve and document air and hydronic flow rates with the purpose of making the HVAC system operate as efficiently as the designer intended.
  • Typically led by a contractor and is separate from commissioning; done years after building has opened. Typically done years after the building has opened.
  • Generally, this service identifies low cost and no cost measures that can be implemented via the control system. For example: adjust equipment schedules, correct economizer operation, and reduce/eliminate simultaneous heating and cooling.
  • Can also identify R&R projects for the building owner.
  • Several Indiana utilities are offering study incentives to help pay for these services.
Optimization
  • This can be considered “retro-commissioning on an ongoing basis”, or “continuous commissioning”. The objective over the long term is to maintain optimal building performance and avoid any creep or variation in operational excellence.
  • Involves:
    • Weekly/monthly reviews of the control schedule
    • Periodic review of equipment operation
    • Benchmarking energy performance
    • Catching operational anomalies within a short time frame to fix any issues and keep energy costs under control.
  • Especially important on buildings that have not been commissioned–as there is likely a high initial energy savings opportunity.
  • Requires collaboration between the designer, your staff, your controls service provider, or other team partners. We help lead, coordinate, and communicate the activities necessary to operate the building well. The team must work together with the same goal in mind!
  • The controls contractor, or someone specifically trained on that system, usually performs the control updates.
  • Not in conflict with commissioning; it complements the service well. Optimization allows energy costs to be controlled from the outset when initiated as soon as the building becomes occupied.
  • Helps identify potential deferred maintenance issues to prioritize projects.
  • By benchmarking or tracking utility costs, it is easy to track the ROI of the service.
  • The life of the equipment is elongated and building occupants are more comfortable if issues are tackled right away and equipment operates efficiently.

Schmidt Associates can work with building owners and institutions to retro-commission and optimize their buildings. Give us a call if you want to learn more about how we can help!

Q&A Session with Bill Gruen

Though quiet upon first introduction, Bill Gruen—Manager of Energy and Optimization Services—brings a laser focus of energy efficiency to projects at Schmidt Associates. Below, we take a few minutes to get to know him.

 

 

 

 

Tell me about yourself.

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York and went to college at George Washington University with a Chemistry major and Economics minor. The last semester of my senior year, I figured it out; I had taken an environmental economics course and it just clicked. I then went on to graduate school at Boston University to receive an M.A. in Energy and Environmental Studies. That’s when I knew I wanted to make a difference for the environment by moving to Washington, DC and writing legislation or working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Though I never actually moved to DC, that dream directed my professional career through opportunities at several different employers. Whether it was conducting lighting audits across the country, managing energy efficiency programs for utilities, or working to make malls more energy efficient, every step of my career has followed that initial vision.

And your family?
I met my wife, Stacy, through a friend I have known since high school who used to organize annual trips for a diverse group of friends. The 1999 trip was to Costa Rica, where I really hit it off with my wife. Though she lived in San Diego at the time, and I was in Denver, we had our first “date” in Sedona—eagerly anticipating the much hyped “black-out” of Y2K. We married in 2002 and now have two teenagers–Julia, 15 and Eli, 13—a labradoodle named Kaya, and a Russian Tortoise named Oogway (which is Chinese for turtle). We also have had a Chinese exchange student, Candice, living with us for two years now. She is 16 and will stay until she graduates in a few years. All the kids attend the International School of Indiana (ISI).

Bill Gruen - family

What does Stacy do for a living?
Stacy’s work in global communications and media management has been in diverse environments – notably at eight Olympic Games (Summer and Winter), 11 FIFA World Cup soccer tournaments, a U.S. Presidential Campaign, and with the Los Angeles Lakers during the “Showtime” era. She was an Emmy-award winning television producer in Los Angeles, and now serves as the Curriculum Coordinator at ISI.

What do you do in your free time?
Having three teenagers in the house keeps us pretty busy. Julia is on the swim team and participates in several school organizations, Eli plays soccer and hockey, and Candice is on the cross country and tennis teams and also takes DJ lessons in Broad Ripple. I also am on the ISI Parent Association Board, as well as their Board of Directors. When I am not busy with one of those things, I love watching soccer and riding bikes.

Do you ride competitively?

No, but my wife is also a big bike rider. We own several bikes, including two tandem bikes. Two years ago, we did a sponsored ride on tandem bikes with the kids along Lake Michigan. It was three days and 150 miles total. The first day, we rode 63 miles, set up our tent and camped, and got up the next day to do it all again, and the same thing the last day. That was an adventure! One of our favorite rides is the Kal Haven Trail in Michigan. It goes 33 miles from Kalamazoo to South Haven, so you can literally ride all the way to the beach and jump in Lake Michigan at the end.

What’s your favorite band?
The Who. My older brother took me to see them in 1980 and I was hooked. In 2006, I was at the World Cup in Germany (my wife was working the event) with my two young children. I was doing daddy daycare with a double stroller in Frankfort through the days and would watch the matches in the evening. The Who happened to be playing at a huge festival in Belgium at the same time, so I got a ticket. They were the last band of the night and would start around 11, so I took three trains the day of the show to get to the concert that night.  Once they finished their set around 1:30 a.m., I returned to the train station. However, the first train was not until 6 a.m., so I had to stay up all night to get back to the kids and start my daddy daycare again the next day with virtually no sleep. It was worth it, though!

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
I have been to two Super Bowls (Pasadena and Miami), one Stanley Cup Game 7 (Denver), and two World Cup Finals (the men’s in Tokyo and the women’s in Vancouver).

Bill Gruen - family 2

If you ever have questions about energy efficient design, biking, soccer, or The Who, feel free to give Bill a call!

 

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe RedarDave JonesPatricia BrantPhil MedleyLiam KeeslingSayo AdesiyakanBen BainAsia CoffeeEric BroemelMatt DurbinKevin ShelleyEddie LaytonAnna Marie Burrell, Kyle Miller, Steve SchaecherMyrisha Colston,  Drew Morgan, and Steve Spangler

The Importance of STEM in K-12 Schools

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) might seem like a buzz word or a trend these days, but demand for careers in these fields are steadily increasingly. Our economy and overall well-being depend heavily on STEM-related occupations—whether it is computer programming, manufacturing, civil engineering, or general family medicine. Getting kids involved and interested in STEM-related activities at a young age, even if they don’t pursue a STEM degree in the future, teaches them problem-solving skills, how to interact with technology, and instills creativity.

Here are some quick stats from the Smithsonian Science Education Center on the importance of STEM:

STEM stats

How can STEM-related fields help the world?
  • Improving sanitation and access to clean water to the 780 million people who currently without clean water
  • Balancing our footprint as energy demand and consumption is increasing at rapid rates
  • Improving agricultural practices to help feed the 870 million people in the world suffering from hunger
  • Fighting global climate change
  • Caring for a large aging population – just think about the 74 million Baby Boomers who are alive today

To get children today ready for a career in the future, it is imperative we pique their interest in the STEM field as early as possible. Getting a program set in place in the classroom is a perfect way to start. So how can we, as architects and engineers, help schools with STEM programs? Take a look at two examples below to see how we’ve helped our Owners prepare kids for their futures:

 

Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

STEM - Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

The Martin Luther King Community Center is a profoundly important community resource in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood in Indianapolis. Through a grant from Best Buy and local support, the MLK Center was able to make a considerable investment in access to technology. In order to help this project, come to fruition, Schmidt Associates was hired to take the dream and translate it into a built reality. This Teen Tech Center gives teens a safe place to go to learn, grow, create, and prepare for their futures.

The Teen Tech Center provides training and internship opportunities, where teens can learn about robotics, 3D design, music production, and more. Nationwide, there are currently 22 Best Buy Teen Tech Centers – a number Best Buy hopes to triple by 2020. 95% of teens who attend these centers plan on pursuing education after high school, and 71% plan to pursue a field in STEM. As Indianapolis welcomes more and more jobs in the STEM fields, this center will make sure the future workforce is well-prepared for a brighter future.

 

Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

STEM - Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

The MSD of Decatur Township is a diverse school district, offering innovative initiatives to their students and members of their community. This new, state-of-the-art Innovation and Design Hub is available for students of all grade levels, teachers, and faculty district-wide to use while expanding their learning capabilities for future careers and pathways in STEM and other areas.

The space includes interactive promethium boards, 3D printers, audio/visual production, a computer programming lab, and more technologies to help students develop better computer, problem-solving, and design thinking skills. It is also flexible in design, replicating an open lab concept to host many people at one time while also providing quiet environments and presentation spaces. Students have the chance to work directly with local industry partners to further increase their knowledge and experience specific to their chosen pathway.

 

If you have any questions about how to get your school or community center equipped with STEM-related spaces, please reach out!

“One of the things that my experience has taught me is that if you are trained as a scientist in your youth – through your high school and college – if you stay with the STEM disciplines, you can learn pretty much all of the subjects as you move along in life. And your scientific disciplines play a very important role and ground you very well as you move into positions of higher and higher authority, whatever the job is.”

– Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi