How Green Star Engineering Enhanced Its Meticulous Process by Moving It to the Cloud – Bluerithm Case Study

Green Star Engineering Bluerithm Case Study

Solutions:

Commercial Building Systems Commissioning

LEED Certification Commissioning

When Jim Watt came across Bluerithm, his firm was at the outset of a major commissioning project with a school district in Houston. The district contracted Green Star Engineering to systematically replace all HVAC control systems for more than 70 locations. The project involved not only the digital controls, but a myriad of components, from actuators and sensors to everything in between.

Of course, Watt saw beyond this one project to what lay ahead for Green Star Engineering. His switch to Bluerithm laid the groundwork for his firm’s coming period of growth and expansion. Today, Watt’s team manages at least a half dozen ongoing projects in Bluerithm at any given time. He’s also added three more team members to manage his firm’s expanding book of business.

OBJECTIVE

POSITION A GROWING ENGINEERING FIRM FOR GROWTH

That a period of rapid growth was on the horizon did not escape Jim Watt, Principal Engineer at Green Star Engineering. “What keeps us ahead is being able to processize what we do,” he says. “It’s what allows us to be thorough and control the quality of the work.”

Watt had to look no further than the work right in front of him: the implementation and standardization of enhanced BMCS sequences and graphics in a large public school district with 92,444 students, 74 schools, and nearly 16 million square feet of conditioned space—all of it spread across 172 square miles. 

Needless to say, Watt had to efficiently navigate any issues that arose, from identifying the problems themselves, to keeping track of each fix. As well as it had served him up to that point, Watt’s Excel-based processes were heavily reliant on manual input. He needed a more centralized, automated solution to handle a project of this scale.

“There were too many variables. I knew that if I was going to hire other people to handle certain parts of the process, then I needed to be sure that they were doing as diligent a job as I would. This required, for instance, test forms that had built-in checks that immediately alert the person that they’ve entered the data incorrectly, or answered a question wrong,” says Watt.

Was Watt able to do all of that in Excel? Sure. But no one person can possibly look at every single Excel spreadsheet, within every system in the Green Star Engineering project portfolio, and catch all of the issues.

“It extends beyond the internal team,” continues Watt. “We give these forms to a lot of different subcontractors. We’ve found that some subcontractors will enter bad data in a rush, what we call pencil whipping. They’re just putting data in without really measuring anything.”

It’s precisely these kinds of incremental issues and mistakes that tend to accumulate for larger scale projects. Without a centralized solution in place for managing issues across all projects, Watt faced unsustainably long project times, budget creep, and diminishing quality.

SOLUTION

Implement Centralized, Real-Time Tracking of Work and Issues

With Bluerithm, Watt has found the flexibility and functionality his firm needs, especially with respect to issues management. “I feel like today we’re really using it as an all-encompassing tool. It’s where we set up and prepare our projects. It’s where we get all of our forms in place for the equipment that we have on the project. And we regularly use the metrics that Bluerithm has for tracking.”

Cloud-Based Issues Management

Watt and his team use Bluerithm to ensure that updates from contractors are the latest and most accurate. It’s a singular source for the most up-to-date project information, one that internal and external team members can access anywhere.

“The first thing we did was to get a handle on the issues, of which there might be hundreds for a given project,” says Watt. Today, his team can:

  • Collaborate on cloud-based issue logs and punch lists
  • See detailed views of all issues and filter by project info (links to equipment, locations, etc.)
  • Use batch editing and productivity tools for large volumes of issue logs

Standardized Pre-Functional Testing Scripts

Watt’s team still creates their forms in Excel. Only now they upload those forms to Bluerithm, apply any necessary formulas, and use them across various projects.

“We set up pre-functional testing scripts for the subcontractors to fill out so we could track their exact progress. That was another huge weight lifted off our shoulders.”

KEY POINTS

  • Create a digital and web-accessible version of all forms, checklists, and scripts
  • Access and customize additional out-of-the-box forms
  • Run reports for specific categories of checklists, forms, and scripts

Improved Client Adoption

The ability to grant access to the Bluerithm platform to contractors, clients, and other external stakeholders has improved adoption for Green Star Engineering.

“We issue guest accounts so external people can login and start making updates without much tutoring. This has made a huge difference, because those clients feel like they have a more vested interest in the relationship and the process.”

According to Watt, many clients will quickly learn to manage some aspects of the process themselves within Bluerithm, saving everybody time and effort.

KEY POINTS

  • Assign guest roles with limited access
  • Give guests a My Work page to view what projects, issues, and tasks they’re assigned to
  • Grant access to certain issues and work to all guest users from a specific company.

RESULTS

FAR MORE PROJECT CAPACITY, SAME EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE

Overall, Bluerithm has helped the Green Star Engineering team scale their project portfolio. Thanks to a lot less manual intervention, as well as an intuitive interface that doesn’t require senior-level expertise to learn, Watt can now delegate more responsibility. As a result, he’s been able to add three team members to his staff.

“The system heads off mistakes and errors automatically. Having it all online gives me a lot of peace of mind, especially when we have half a dozen projects going on with four different people working on things, not to mention all of our subcontractors. The people I’ve hired can run functional testing on their own using our Bluerithm scripts,” says Watt.

Watt and his team can also reliably identify and assess any inaccurate project data before it becomes a bigger problem. “Inevitably, some contractors will put in inaccurate updates. We’ve set the system up to verify that the data is real and makes sense. We can quickly check on outstanding issues and other items that a contractor is responsible for, too. It helps us work smarter with our good subcontractors and helps keep those that are less diligent on track.”

As a firm known for a superior client experience, Green Star Engineering has been able to expand its portfolio without sacrificing its high standard of service. From real-time tracking of work and issues, follow-through, and troubleshooting, to tuning and operator training, Watt is confident his team has a thorough and scalable commissioning process in place.

Finally, with respect to the school district project in Houston—the project that precipitated the relationship between Green Star Engineering and Bluerithm—things have progressed quite well. To date, Green Star Engineering has commissioned BMCS replacements and upgrades to more than six million square feet of conditioned space and 44 facilities.

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