Technology brings big savings, more comfort to Sno-Isle Libraries

Consider the Snohomish Library as the cornerstone of leaner and greener Sno-Isle Libraries.

Snohomish Library Manager Jude Anderson shows one of the library’s heat exchangers that uses 70 percent less energy, thanks to software monitoring.

When Brian Rush joined Sno-Isle Libraries as facilities manager seven years ago, his top priority was to be a good financial steward for the district’s taxpayers while improving facilities and maintenance practices.

There was no pressure to “go green,” he said. Going green happened organically, with a boost from technology.

Rush said the old software that managed energy use at district-owned buildings wasn’t saving much money.

His research showed that Delta EnteliWEB had great potential to manage and monitor a facility’s energy use. He made the Snohomish Library his test case.

Rush worked with Puget Sound Energy and Snohomish County PUD and convinced the utilities to absorb some of the costs to assess energy savings. The utilities also helped pay for conservation work, such as variable-speed motors for air handlers, various system updates and more efficient lighting.

The conservation changes worked well with EnteliWEB. Between 2011 and 2015, the Snohomish Library cut electrical use by 17 percent and slashed natural gas consumption by 70 percent. Similar conservation efforts at the Monroe Community Library also cut gas use by 70 percent.

“It’s all about the BTUs,” Rush said.

Senior officials at Sno-Isle Libraries liked the savings and had Rush implement EnteliWEB for all buildings the library district owns. Since then, Rush added a product called Kaizen from CopperTree Analytics to his arsenal of powerful software to analyze building energy use and heating, venting and air conditioning systems.

From his desktop computer or a tablet, Rush uses EnteliWEB to monitor and adjust just about every aspect of each building’s HVAC system. Kaizen provides Rush with analytics that show the normal operating range of any given component.

For example, he cut energy use 50 percent and improved air quality at the Marysville Library. He studied when and where people used the building, then tweaked the HVAC system with EnteliWEB. With the building’s HVAC system operating much more efficiently, he was able to take one HVAC unit offline.

That’s one less piece of complex equipment subject to maintenance and repair expenses.

Rush uses Kaizen on the maintenance side to remotely monitor and assess mechanical HVAC components. A cloud-based database accumulates metrics to show normal operating ranges for motors, sensors, pumps — anything related airflow and air quality.

Facilities maintenance used to rely on set schedules and routines, Rush said. Travel to each building. Inspect items after so much time. Replace components after so much use. Repair if broken.

No more.

Kaizen’s real-time fault detection provides alerts and alarms when a component operates outside of its normal range or requires attention, Rush explained. It could be a failing carbon-monoxide detector, or a slipping $3 drive belt that could damage an $8,000 HVAC compressor.

Rush hopes to add Bluetooth and WiFi to paper towel and toilet paper dispensers to tell when any one needs to be refilled in any district building. That’s one less thing library staff and contract custodians have to check regularly.

Taken together, it saves a tremendous amount of staff time and resources.

Energy conservation efforts and real-time maintenance saves library-district taxpayers $400,000 to $500,000 annually, Rush said. The savings reflect the stewardship of Rush and his department: Facilities Specialist Tona Khau, Facilities Coordinator Tom Kreinbring and Facilities Technician Tom Lauderback.

Using technology to work smarter, Rush and the team can keep all the Sno-Isle Libraries buildings operating smoothly.

“We’re not just key carriers and janitors,” Khau explained. “We’re less tactical, more strategic.”

Rush added: “Now we only work on what needs to be worked on.”