Imagine a light bulb with a smart chip that uses 60 percent less energy, cuts itself off when there’s no one in the room and goes into an alarm mode, blinking on and off if fire breaks out. Or glass that responds to temperature and light conditions to significantly reduce energy uses by the traditional building HVAC systems. What about a leading ad agency office with no desks, only benches, or a design-office for 30-somethings that features roll-up, glass garage doors to the conference room so the table can serve as an open air work space or host a private meeting.
These were just some of the products and trends brought up to pique creativity and innovation among building management professionals at BOMA Georgia’s High Performance Building Summit. Held at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center, ValleyCrest featured Water Analysis Reports, an innovative service to determine the savings property owners can achieve by installing a smart irrigation controller.
John Picard, an American architect, builder, entrepreneur and sustainability expert from Silicon Valley delivered a stimulating keynote introducing transformational products destined to impact the building industry in the coming years. Picard referenced the remote access feature and “smart” capabilities of the irrigation system at his home. He described how, while skiing with his family at Tahoe, he received an email regarding an excessive flow on his irrigation system. He immediately called his gardener to let him know about the line break. Ironically, these are the same remote access and automatic shut-off/messages for excessive flow featured in the smart controllers referenced in our Water Analysis Reports.
Picard also demonstrated how he could adjust the temperature at his home using his iPhone. The WeatherTrak smart controllers also allow the use of an iPhone or laptop to remotely make adjustments to an irrigation system. When world-renowned sustainability experts are touting the same features and benefits, you know you are on the right side of the leading edge of technology.
An unexpected moment occurred when I started talking to one of the attendees only to find out he used to work for HydroPoint Data Systems, the manufacturer of the WeatherTrak controller. Jeff Gross, who now works with sustainable energy management pioneer Servidyne, turned out to be a great resource and a strategic connection. He furthered my education on the many advantages the WeatherTrak smart controller has over systems that utilize soil moisture sensors.
According to Gross, soil sensors were designed for agriculture where the terrain is typically level. Soil sensor systems don’t factor in all the elements of evapotranspiration and are usually a hard-wired system susceptible to being cut by a shovel or other soil disturbance. WeatherTrak, utilizing NOAA weather information is accurate to within a kilometer of the site, is extremely reliable and doesn’t require the technical expertise needed to manage a system that uses an on-site weather station. Information regarding each zone is programmed into the clock so the irrigation schedule is fine tuned daily only to apply as much water as was lost since the last run cycle.
Jeff, a LEED Green Associate and former Johnson Controls water expert, was a wealth of information regarding the WeatherTrak system and helped answer some questions posed by property managers who were excited to learn more about sustainability, reduced water use and cost savings.
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Bart Parker is a LEED Green Associate, Senior Business Developer and four-time President’s Club member at ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance in Atlanta. He is a 20-year member of BOMA Georgia, 1997 recipient of BOMA’s Huey Award and 2008 winner of BOMA’s Pen & Quill Award. Bart was a newspaper news reporter/photographer before entering the horticulture industry.