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6 Questions about EV Charging Stations

Posted on 7/21/2014 10:04 AM by Tad Benson

If you’re a facility manager or building owner, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are probably already on your radar.  Here are six questions to ask before you purchase an EV charging station.

1)  Which EV Charging Station is Right for Me?

Determine which charge station speed and power level is best for your property. Level 1 is the least expensive and slowest option, but it’s typically used for residential applications as it uses household outlets.

Level 2 is the most common commercial and public charging level. It uses 240 volts, like an oven or clothes dryer. DC Fast Charging is the fastest option, but also very expensive and usually requires significant electrical infrastructure upgrades.

You can also choose between dumb or smart stations. Dumb stations are stand-alone units without operating software needed to manage features, like controlling access or pricing. They are simply an on/off device.

Smart stations are capable of utilizing management software to help owners measure and control costs, optimize asset usage, provide value-added features to EV drivers, and monitor station up-time.

Single or dual ports are also available. You can get a charging station with one charging plug (also known as a port) or two. Having two ports allows you to install one charging station between two or more parking spots. Dual-port stations are typically more expensive, but they can save money on installation costs.

2)  Can I Switch EV Charging Networks?

A charging station’s communications capabilities and cloud-based management software are collectively called a charge station network. A network’s management software provides all of the features necessary to efficiently operate a network of stations.

It is important to note that a network’s management software can be either open or closed. Closed networks do not allow you to switch network providers unless you completely replace the charging stations. It is like being locked into one cellular network for the life of your phone. Using an open and switchable network reduces the risk of abandoned assets or expensive upgrades.

3)  How Much Does Installation Cost?

The highest cost of providing EV charging stations is often their installation. Electric service upgrades, trenching, repaving, distance to panel, and other factors can significantly impact your installation costs. Good planning with your installer and keeping future expansion in mind will reduce your short- and long-term installation costs.

4)  How Many Charging Stations Do I Need?

To answer this question, keep both your current and future EV charging needs in mind, even if you currently have very few EV drivers. Consider approaches like:

Small Pilot Test – Start with a couple of stations that utilize an open and switchable network. This flexibility will give you the most latitude when you install additional stations in the future. Also put the pilot charging stations in an area where additional units can be added down the road without too much additional work.

Do a Survey – Poll all of your drivers to obtain the current numbers of EVs and drivers’ future intent to purchase them.

Utilization Data – Make sure your EV charging station network provider has reporting tools to monitor when and where your stations are consistently at maximum capacity and when additional stations are truly needed.

5)  How Am I Going to Manage Them?

Some EV charging station network providers offer cost-effective management services so you don’t have to dedicate staff time to operate the software, provide up-time monitoring, or take care of maintenance. Some companies also include 24/7 support to help with driver registrations, training, and resolving technical issues.

6.  How Do I Get a High ROI and a Low TCO?

Increased ROI can be derived from some several key areas, such as enhancing employee or customer attraction and retention. You can also enhance your brand perception through positive PR value centered on sustainability efforts and value-added amenities.

Total cost of ownership can be reduced by avoiding stranded charging station assets by purchasing stations with an open and switchable network capability. Proper planning and charging station utilization management will also minimizing the over-buying of charging stations. Lastly, choose an EV charging partner capable of full-service management and support.

Tad Benson is the vice president of marketing for EV Connect, which offers EV charging station solutions.

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The Basics of DCIM Monitoring

Posted on 7/18/2014 7:00 AM by Sev Onyshkevych

Facilities managers know that proper building maintenance is a complicated process. When a data center is involved, however, the complications increase exponentially.  Why? Because data centers are a completely different breed of buildings, with a unique set of concerns ranging from the challenges of lowering CO2 emissions and power consumption to seemingly perpetual expansion and growth.

This unrelenting growth is due, in part, to the never-ending need to support more applications, manage increasing data, support the growth of the cloud, and fulfill the insatiable needs of consumer devices generating countless videos, pictures, blogs, and websites. This puts a lot of strain on facility managers, who are tasked with tracking the very lifeblood that keeps this data moving: power, cooling, and capacity planning.

Add in the stress of complying with PCI, HIPAA, GLBA, and supporting BYOD (basically choose your acronym), keeping up with the pressures of energy savings in light of rising energy costs  – without risking downtimeand you have the makings of very stressful job. A Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) Monitoring solution will ease the responsibility burden on FMs and building owners while helping with data center performance.

DCIM Monitoring to the Rescue

DCIM Monitoring has become a foundation for improving data center efficiency, maximizing the use of available space, controlling power and cooling costs, and enabling informed decisions based on real-time situational views.

The software enables facility and IT managers to collect real-time data on the physical data center environment. DCIM consolidates measurements from all parts of the data center – most importantly power and temperature from both the facilities and the IT equipment, plus information from other monitoring tools like a BMS or EPMS.

In addition, DCIM automatically gathers this big data and translates and normalizes all information into easy-to-follow charts. With dashboards of key metrics at their disposal, managers can view any facility’s current physical state, as well as alarms related to ongoing or potential problems. DCIM Monitoring has become an extremely effective method to mitigate risk and avoid service disruptions.

8 Key Features of DCIM Monitoring

  1. Temperature monitoring With a real-time thermograph, you can identify and eliminate hot and cold spots, raise operating temperatures, and lower power consumption.
  2. Real-time capacity reports – These cover all “stranded” energy, space, and cooling capacity. It can also enable consolidation and help delay or eliminate the need for costly, physical plant expansion.
  3. Communicate with other monitoring systems and speak other protocols The ideal DCIM solution should seamlessly “interrogate” all your other systems by polling.
  4. Results sharing – The solution should allow managers to collect data and be able to share it with key stakeholders, including staff and applications.
  5. Push and pull – Monitoring should have the ability to receive information from devices that “push” data and alerts and “pull” data by polling.
  6. Historical along with real-time data – It is vital to have real-time information, as well as historical measurements to show trending and enable effective planning for the future.
  7. Alarm and alert – To help the data center staff be predictive and proactive, alerts and alarms should notify managers before something goes wrong, not afterwards.
  8. Scalability A DCIM Monitoring tool should have the capacity to handle future growth and planned expansions. If you have multiple, large data centers, you’re looking at millions of data points per day. Not all DCIM Monitoring solutions are designed to handle such massive loads.

To make your future expansions go as smoothly as possible, make DCIM Monitoring the foundation of your data center infrastructure management. You can then plan more effectively and make the right business decisions for your mission critical facility.

Sev Onyshkevych is the chief marketing officer at FieldView Solutions, a DCIM software vendor. Contact Sev at sev@fieldviewsolutions.com or 732-395-6920 ext. 202.

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Education, Engineering, and Enforcement

Education, engineering, and enforcement, also known as "The 3 E's" of fire prevention, are a hot topic in almost any fire trade magazine, website, and blog alike.

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What do Facility Managers Need to Know?

Facility managers today are expected to understand their company’s core business strategies and contribute to the bottom line — not only by reducing facility costs

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The Time is Right for Building Energy Efficiency

Making our buildings more efficient is vital to battling climate change, plus it’s just good business. Energy efficiency bridges the economy and the environment by saving money, producing jobs, reducing carbon pollution and creating much-needed economic activity.   President Obama said as much in his recent State of the Union speech while issuing a challenge to Americans to take control of their own energy future and improve the environment through increased use of clean energy.   “I’m also issuing a new goal for Amer ...

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Virtual Assessment versus On-Site Audit: What’s the Difference?

With the increasing focus on finding solutions that reduce building energy consumption, efficiency remains the most cost effective way to deliver savings.  The challenge most energy managers face, however, is figuring out which buildings have the best potential for savings and then identifying the combination of measures that are most appropriate for each site.  This problem is exacerbated over a large portfolio.  Consider that very high potential buildings can have 40% or more savings potential, whereas low potential buildings can hav ...

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Lightning Protection: Making a Wise Investment for your Smart Grid

Building with the smart grid in mind means taking the right precautions for new systems that have an even more critical set of protection concerns. A smart grid is only as strong as its weakest part and, in many locations, that weak part may be a building’s exposure to lightning. Ensuring maximum power quality, power reliability and asset protection becomes more important than ever as buildings adopt smart grid systems. Given that perspective, lightning is becoming a key consideration for the productivity, safety and sustainability of industrial ...

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Sustainable Cost Reductions and Occupational Injury Prevention

Achieving substantial and sustainable cost reductions is the greatest challenge facing management today.  Organizations often think they are running as lean as possible and there just isn’t any room for significant improvement.  So, with an understanding that Human Resources is by far the largest cost an organization incurs and productivity is the key to achieving sustainable cost reductions… where do we begin? Measuring Where You Stand “What gets measured gets managed.”  That age-old axiom attributed to the gr ...

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For a Successful Retail Project, Value Engineering is Critical

As the retail industry continues to shift toward growing revenue through online sales, many retailers have cut back on the amount of funds dedicated toward building or expanding upon physical store locations. According to estimates from The CoStar Group, only 21.4 million square feet of new retail space will enter the market in 2012 - a record low.   While these numbers may look grim, this changing paradigm creates both a challenge and opportunity for construction firms to implement value engineering practices. In today’s economy, retail ...

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Holistic Building Water Design

Water efficiency seems secondary to the always demanding energy efficiency, but through consideration and proper design, significant savings await.  The collection of various site water sources, purposed for various needs, will result in an economic return.  Analogous to other systems, efficiency advances require capital investments to collect, treat and distribute.  The associated operating and maintenance routines increase in importance.  The rise in utilities should motivate all building owners to, at the very least, consider t ...

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In-Place Pipe Lining is the Solution for Failing Pipes

Trenchless pipe lining companies may not understand the rationale behind tearing your building apart in order to ultimately protect it. It is a counterproductive process. One of the most irresponsible things a property manager can do is allow construction on his or her property when there are sufficient solutions available that do not require any demolition to the property. Trenchless pipe lining to the rescue. Trenchless pipe lining technologies are not new – some of the technologies have been used for decades, passing the test of time. For ...

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Designing With BIM: Thoughts from a Young Designer

Building Information Modeling done right is a wonderful time saving coordination masterwork that is now having a dramatic impact on our industry.  Building Information Modeling done wrong soaks up billable hours at an unstoppable rate everywhere.  Great efforts by the designer and their supporting team occur painstakingly without realizations from those making the impactful decisions.  Designers must understand far more about installation characteristics and software design than ever before.  Design firms are seeing an increase ...

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