Alliance Mechanical of Essex Junction, VT
Interview with Tim Campbell, Energy Solutions Manager
1. What is your area of expertise?
Alliance Mechanical’s expertise is in proactive maintenance, HVAC system repair and replacement, building automation, and boiler services, all for commercial customers. Building automation includes the latest energy management for the entire building, thermostats, humidistats, time clocks, and related matters.
2. What projects do people try to do themselves that really should be done professionally?
Some people attempt to do proactive maintenance without training. Typically, they change filters and belts. When they have done this, they often consider their work done, but some issues they might miss are maintaining settings; checking motor actuators, sensors, damper actuators, valve actuators, fan motors, condensers, and contactors. Also, sequences need to be checked. Lack of good maintenance is a big energy waste and eventually costs a fair amount.
3. If you could only choose one type of project to reduce someone’s carbon footprint or improve efficiency, what would it be and why?
To choose one type of project, it would have to be to replace the temperature controls of a building with the latest building automation system. With good design, programming, and commissioning, a new system can operate efficiently and do such things as customized scheduling and calculating set points and trending. A very common set point is a boiler loop where temperatures may be adjusted as the building and outside temperatures change. A calculated set point makes it possible to adjust heating and cooling to satisfy requirements of the space while saving energy.
4. What in your field of specialty is most valuable for our readers to know?
Our specialty is diagnosing poorly designed, poorly installed, or poorly maintained systems. We can provide field analysis on all HVAC equipment, including electrical control systems, chill water systems, boiler systems, cooling systems, and more. We can also provide steam trap testing, refrigeration leakage testing, and compressed air leak testing. We have the ability to repair or replace any system we identify as needing energy upgrades, while providing the best cost effective and energy efficient solution.
5. Why should people use an Efficiency Excellence Network member over someone else?
People should use an EEN member because of the quality resources that are provided. EEN members are committed to providing good services to save energy in the interest of the environment, so the customer gets the benefit of a great set of resources available from a wide range of partners. The membership also ensures that the contractor is a professional who works in the best interest of the customer.
6. What are the best ways to finance projects (or what incentives are available) for residential or commercial projects?
For commercial customers, such as ours, we recommend that a professional contractor help decide which of two possible routes, prescriptive or customized incentives, to take. There are times that a prescriptive incentive can be helpful. Prescriptive incentives put up specific financial support for specific units.
In some circumstances, there is a need to work with the utility and Efficiency Vermont or NHSaves to engineer a customized energy saving program. Customized incentives apply to custom engineering based on field analysis, that justifies the investment with the intended payback, when correctly implemented. They are awarded on an individual basis. They help the customer get the project done by providing financial support for the project to reduce energy use in specific buildings.
Our business tends to do more of the customized incentives because of our commercial work.,
7. What are some questions you recommend customers ask when selecting someone to do work to meet energy efficiency goals?
How long has the contractor been in business, and how experienced are they? Has the contractor ever worked on a similar project? Can the contractor provide references? Do they have the resources to complete the project in a timely manner? How much of the work will be performed by the contractor – will any portion need to be subcontracted.