2014 WSSHE Semiannual Symposium: Tales from a First Time Attendee

WoodHarbinger-503-Edit_1By John Taylor, P.E., LEED AP BD+C

The 2014 Washington State Society for Healthcare Engineering (WSSHE) Semiannual Symposium was held during the fourth week of April at Campbell’s Inn and Resort in Chelan, WA, and it turned out to be a huge success for Wood Harbinger, and a great experience for me as a first time attendee.  We had a large presence with about a dozen of our employees in attendance, and my colleagues had the opportunity to present a seminar, which was well received. The overall attendance number was on the order of 300, including healthcare facilities personnel, architects, engineers, and equipment vendors.  The event ran from a Wednesday night through Friday afternoon and had all sorts of activities to educate and entertain while allowing a significant amount of networking opportunities.

Wednesday: President’s Reception

The festivities kicked off Wednesday evening with the President’s Reception sponsored by Wood Harbinger.  This event provided a great opportunity to mingle and catch up with current clients and colleagues, as well as meet potential new clients.  Hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine were plentiful and the event lasted well into the evening. What a great way to start!

Thursday: Seminars, Seminars, Seminars!

Thursday was a full day of seminars, three of which I was able to attend.  The first seminar, The Future of the Electrical Grid in Washington State, was presented by Michael Pesin of Seattle City Light, and discussed smart grid technology as it applies to electrical utilities.  The concepts seemed so futuristic but, in some cases, are already here.  Michael discussed refrigerators that have the ability to connect to a smart grid and use built-in logic to weigh the need to operate the compressor vs. the instantaneous price of power, and the idea that with more and more electric vehicles being connected to the grid, the utilities now have a place to store vast amounts of power.  Power can be fed to the electric vehicles when it is cheap to produce in abundance and, if the owner agrees and the car is equipped for it, power can be fed back into the grid during peak demand periods.  This has tremendous potential, as utilities have always been challenged by peak loading on the grid.  It is much easier for the utility to produce a consistent supply of energy than it is to ramp demand based on time of day.

The second seminar on Thursday morning was presented by our very own Tom Leonidas and John Bartelink, joined by Frank Kling of ETAP to discuss The Future:  Sensory Buildings that Heal and Optimize Themselves.  This presentation fit perfectly with the earlier smart grid presentation, taking a look at similar concepts from the demand-side perspective, rather than the production side of the grid.  The idea was simple – a building model created in Revit can be coupled with all of the real-time monitoring currently done by the DDC and power monitoring systems to provide a real-time view of the operation of a building.  Having this information available at all times allows a building operator or an intelligent building system to make choices on which systems to operate in order to save energy.  Seeing these two presentations back-to-back really tied together the concept of a smart grid.  And since I’ve seen DDC systems actively monitoring systems, the concept seemed less foreign and futuristic and more of an inevitable evolution in the way buildings and people work together.

The Sensory Buildings presentation was followed by a lunch break, after which I had a beneficial meeting with the Washington State Department of Health to discuss some current projects I am working on with them.  Their main goal is to protect patient health, and our main goal is to help them do it with functional, efficient buildings.  Successful projects result when both parties are reasonable and open to working together to achieve a mutually acceptable solution, and I’m happy to say that our conversation put us on a good track in that direction.

I also made it to the final seminar of the day on Electrical Distribution System Maintenance.  While it’s probably obvious to any electrician or electrical engineer, I was surprised to learn that breakers actually require lubrication and maintenance.  Granted, this is fairly obvious when you think about the fact that breakers have moving parts but, to be honest, I just never thought about it before.  Maybe I’ll cycle all my breakers when I go home tonight just to make sure they all work.

Mini-Golf and Dinner

After cramming our heads full of all this knowledge it was time for some R&R, with the “Barney Richmond Classic” Miniature Golf Outing (I’m afraid I don’t recall my score but I can assure you it was not under par.  In fact, it was probably nowhere near par), followed by dinner at the Lake Chelan Winery where we were served delicious barbecue offerings including corn bread, baked beans, ribs and chicken.  Each person was given a ticket for one free glass of wine, and there was some free wine tasting available.  Apparently barbecue pairs well with wine!

After the barbecue dinner I had a choice:  go back to the resort and get some rest or stay up half the night to attend a bonfire.  I was torn by the decision, but I was exhausted, so I headed for bed.  I hear that the bonfire is a great time, but I’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

Overall, my first WSSHE Semiannual Symposium in Chelan turned out to be a great experience.  I learned a lot from the seminars and the meeting that I attended, strengthened bonds with some existing clients, caught up with several colleagues, and met several folks for the first time with whom I hope we can work in the future.  Thanks WSSHE for a great time!  And thanks Wood Harbinger for allowing me the opportunity to attend.


Follow John on Twitter @JTaylor_WH

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