DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Those who live in homes can dial their thermostats back, but what about major office buildings and high-rises? How do they keep tenants comfortable while minimizing power use?
Liz Ashurst with Sun West Real Estate group has some answers at her fingertips.
“Each building is separate, but you can log into any of them from the web,” she said.
The Sun West Real Estate Group manages high rises and retail shopping centers around North Texas. Liz Ashurst personally directs two office buildings, and if necessary, can do it from her smart phone.
These are the kinds of questions she asks of the system: “So, what are the temperatures in the building and how is the equipment performing?”
“And matching those two up to make the most of the situation,” she said.
Though built in the 1950s and water-cooled, the Meadows Building off U.S. 75 and Lovers Lane has been retrofitted with cabling and sensors throughout the building so technicians get a minute-by-minute readout. It can even anticipate potential failures and send alerts to laptops and smart phones.
Ashurst said she can log into her application and make adjustments to any piece of equipment that’s “functioning outside its normal parameters.”
“It might be a malfunctioning piece,” Ashurst said. “It allows us to be proactive rather than reactive.”
She also urges tenants to conserve by using blinds and unplugging unnecessary appliances. Every little bit helps.
“We’ll start extending the hours the system is run. And we’ll check in the afternoon in the hottest part of the day and seed how the buildings are doing,” she said.
Doing without power and air conditioning is no fun. Scores of people were without power when a transformer blew in Oak Cliff. Then, Wednesday morning a 3-alarm fire raked the Congress House apartments in Dallas.
Flames broke out in a second-floor unit. Fire fighters had their hands full with both the blaze and the heat, said Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans. “Know it wasn’t that hot at six in the morning, but when you’re adding 70 pounds of firefighting gear that makes the temperature seem a lot worse than it actually is,” Evans said.
He says they rotate firefighters in and out and keep an eye on each other for problems. Because depending on the heat and the type of work that’s demanded, “The temperature can actually go up past 160-degrees even 200-degrees sometimes.”
He adds that if someone sees a group of firefighters sitting down while others are battling flames, it doesn’t mean they aren’t working, just that they simply must pace themselves.
“On the scene of a fire we always make sure we have more personnel than not enough so that we can rotate in fresh guys to fight fires effectively,” Evans said. “And not have them run the risk of being overcome by the elements.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Sun West Real Estate as Southwest Real Estate. That’s been corrected. CBS 11 News regrets the error.