HVAC: Accounting for stuff only the birds can see!

Old Hvac Unit
Old roof top HVAC unit scheduled to be replaced.

Necessary – What has this got to do with me? I am building a chic new retail store. I need to focus on the design, merchandise displays and retail image. Who sees this? I know – I know, the space must have functioning heat and air conditioning but, really, why do I need a structural engineer? I want to put my budget were it is visible to my customers.

Most commercial HVAC units will last 15 to 20 years. They probably cost over $10M each without any distribution and, in all but special circumstances, you cannot hope to have a functional commercial space without them. They are as basic as the walls, roof, plumbing, lights, etc. So when the HVAC company, landlord, or MEP engineer says it is time to replace you can be pretty sure they are correct.

Fundamental – Few would argue that it is completely fundamental for a tenant to understand who is responsible for the original installation, subsequent maintenance, repair and eventual replacement of the heating and air conditioning in a space. Neglecting to do this would be like moving into a space that might or might not have walls, yet I am often surprised by retailers who are unclear about, even disinterested in, these issues. Until something goes wrong that is.

Bar Joist
Bar joist hold up the roof and are common in retail environments.

Required – But I digress. My intention is not to outline heating and air conditioning systems common to small commercial projects, which is nicely done here. It is, rather, to explain why structural engineering is required for the installation of an HVAC unit. Consider this; all commercial HVAC systems have parts, many of which are large, heavy and sit on something, i.e., the roof. The unit in the photo, for example, weighs upward of 1,200 pounds. Now take a critical look at the structural framing system in the other photo, and ask yourself if it looks like it will be sufficient to hold up the concentrated load created by the installation of half a ton of equipment. In this case the structure is actually holding up the unit shown, so the answer happens to be yes – barely. I point this out because in many cases, especially in existing buildings without available structural drawings, common sense might lead one to ask if a new mechanical unit weighs the same as the one being replaced. Be aware that where common sense fails, the building code does not.

Structural load calculations and drawings which have been certified by an authorized professional are required before building departments will issue a permit allowing heavy equipment to be installed in, or on, a new or existing building. This, of course, includes mechanical, as well as other types of equipment. I mention the later as an aside for all you restaurant owners out there. Restaurant equipment is heavy and installing it in old buildings like those found in historic areas can create problems for unaware owners. Also, in the case of replacement equipment, it is less involved but still necessary to evaluate a new unit even if it weighs less than the old one. In the case under consideration, the replacement HVAC unit proved to be heavier than the existing, meaning it became necessary to provide structural reinforcement before the new unit could be installed.

Roof top image shows location of existing HVAC equipment.
Roof top image shows location of existing HVAC equipment.

How – So what steps were required? How did we arrive at this conclusion? First we had a contractor go up onto the roof and take photos of the exiting equipment, including a close up view of the label. This allowed the mechanical engineer to research the existing unit with the manufacturer who was able to provide a weight. A new unit was then specified according to the new design for the space. Efforts were made to avoid additional expense by matching the new unit with the old and installing it in the same location. Eventually it was determine that, although the location could be maintained, the replacement unit was going to be heavier than the old one. Had it weighed the same or less, the mechanical engineer would have so noted it on the drawings and been done.

Since this was not the case, it became necessary for the structural engineer to completed the process. He went to he site, analyzed the structural type, crawled up on a ladder, measured the bar joist, and checked the location of the existing equipment. Upon returning to his office, he went through a series of calculations to see if the structure was sufficient to accommodate the new unit. Since it was not he had to design and specify additional reinforcement adequate for the new equipment. This information was delivered in the form of signed and sealed drawings and calculations, along with certified architectural and MEP documents, to the building department with the permit application.

Why – The point of this discussion is to show those contemplating a commercial building project what a single line in a lease assigning responsibility for the heating and air conditioning equipment can indicate. In my experience all reputable landlords give full disclosure about the age and condition of the mechanical systems in their properties. Many provide substantial construction allowances for unit replacement and other improvements. Few, though, take into consideration the amount of engineering required in order to make the actual improvement. Professional services, Architectural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Structural, are expensive and should be accounted for in the budget for a building project. I would suggest that forewarned is forearmed.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

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Webinar: Google Chrome: The Little Browser That Can

Most people don’t realize the importance of vital resources until it’s missing suddenly from their lives. Case in point: you likely don’t contemplate the air you breathe at any given moment, unless you’re deprived of it. Not to be too

Most people don’t realize the importance of vital resources until it’s missing suddenly from their lives. Case in point: you likely don’t contemplate the air you breathe at any given moment, unless you’re deprived of it. Not to be too melodramatic, but that’s kind of what the Web is to most businesses today. It’s a commodity that’s taken for granted and only until you cannot access it do you realize it as sine qua non for running your business in this modern era.

And, of course, we access the Web through Web browsers. You may not think about how different Web browsers really are, again, until they inhibit your ability to get things done. Google had been thinking about this for years and in 2008 released their own little browser that can, Google Chrome. I say “little” because it’s code is compact and therefore very fast, and I said “that can” because it has some many abilities, you just need to ask and it can likely do it. That’s what this Webinar is all about: Google Chrome and using it in your business.

In this Web-based presentation, we cover:

  • why Small Business should be using Google Chrome;
  • the best features and extensions for Chrome for Small business; and,
  • how to implement Google Chrome on your computers/laptops and smartphones.

Resources

The Chromium Projects
What are extensions? – Google Chrome
Google Chrome Terms of Service
Chrome for Work: Chrome for Work
100 Chrome Extensions That You Should Install
20 Best Chrome Browser Extensions You Need To Have
The 13 best Google Chrome hacks – Business Insider
11 Google Chrome Extensions That Will Boost Your Productivity


These Webinars are hosted by the Virginia Small Business Development Center Network – http://virginiasbdc.org – and presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Managing Director of W3C Web Services, providing affordable Web, WordPress, email, domain and other related services for Small Business – http://web.w3cinc.com. With the transfer of your business’ domain, Web *and* email hosting services, get a complimentary 1-hour Web, Mobile & Social Media strategy session. Email [email protected] to get started!

Google Keep, Voice Search, and Voice Typing in Google Docs – What’s New at Google

Periodically, I will be writing a What’s New at Google post here to update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner. These can be warnings as well as the many frequent enhancements

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Periodically, I will be writing a What’s New at Google post here to update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner. These can be warnings as well as the many frequent enhancements

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Getting Ready for Business in the New Year

Start wherever you are and start small. -Rita Baily With each past year behind us with hopefully more good memories than not, business owners around the country usually spend this time of year looking forward to how to make the best

Start wherever you are and start small. -Rita Baily

Getting Ready for Business in the New YearWith each past year behind us with hopefully more good memories than not, business owners around the country usually spend this time of year looking forward to how to make the best of the upcoming year. Like with New Year’s resolutions, most plans never come to fruition. It reminds me sadly about how many business plans are started and not finished, nor ever looked at again even if they are. Considering the renewal of the calendar year, I think it’s an appropriate time to “kick the tires” and look at some often-overlooked areas of your business as we kick off this January. So, even if you haven’t looked at that business plan sitting in your desk drawer (which I also recommend that you do!), reviewing and acting on any of these business areas will improve your 2015 outlook. This is a natural time for getting ready for business in the new year.

Leadership & Professional Development

It never hurts to think about one’s own success to start. This is especially as important when you are the leader of your organization. When I started my first administrative position in a boutique law firm, I would never have thought one day I would running companies. However, I realized early on that my skills were depended upon by everyone in the firm. I was a leader as much of myself, as of the people who followed me when I was chosen to take the lead on a case. I learned quickly that I needed leadership and other professional skills that I wasn’t taught in school, and I needed them quickly!

There are so many more resources today at your fingertips thanks to the proliferation of edtech (i.e., educational technology, primarily here on the Web and Mobile). Here are a few resources you can use to build up your leadership skills:

Corporate Philanthropy & Community Service

The next phase of any great company new or veteran is learning to invest in their values as well as making a profit. It turns out that you get when you give; it’s a natural part of community building. There’s something almost mystical about how this works, but I assure you are wired to get more when you give than when you receive and this also works on the greater, business scale. Here are three ideas on how you can build some giving and volunteer opportunities for your business:

  1. Join Google One Today, a program that has you donate just one dollar a day, every day, to a charity doing something great for the world. Encourage your entire company’s staff (perhaps you can match or pay for the donations) to join Google One Today and share your giving experiences via your business Social Media networks.
  2. Think about creating a Corporate Philanthropy program, which is easier than you would think. A small community grant can mean the difference between a local organization making a great impact in your community (of course, tied to your business’ brand), or not being able to do it at all. In-kind volunteer support programs can even build up some organizations to a point where they can then become paying clients. There are many ideas and opportunities; click on the link above and get creative.
  3. You can additionally start a Community Volunteer program at your office, and require every staffer to give a certain percentage of his working month (say, 1.5 hours per calendar month, which is about 1% of 35-hour workweek). You can find many volunteer opportunities at Volunteer Match. It’s a marketplace for finding volunteers, and as its website says, “We bring good people & good causes together. Find a cause that lights you up. Get in touch with a nonprofit that needs you.” Why not bring this volunteering under one umbrella and coordinate the efforts with your company’s name at the forefront of benefiting your community. It’s the epitome of “doing well by doing good.”

Exit Strategy Planning

In the end, you cannot lead forever. While the science of rejuvenation is likely to see monumental progress in our lifetimes, endeavoring to possibly doubling some young generations’ lifespans, you will not live indefinitely. And, so you won’t be running your company that long either. Whether it’s by death, dissolution or deal, you will leave your company’s helm someday; why not decide how?

If you haven’t lately (or ever), now is a good time while you’re healthy and in positive spirits to call your trusts, estates and tax lawyer to work out details about how you want the disposition of your assets (including intellectual property) to be handled if you were to leave this life untimely. If you don’t have a legal adviser in an estate and tax advisory capacity, it’s best to find a specialist here at The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; these are specifically-trained individuals to help you.

Of course, some of you hope that someday you will be able to sell your business for a billion dollars like Instagram or WhatsApp. Okay, perhaps something a bit more modest, say, a million dollars so that you can retire (if a million dollars is really enough to retire on nowadays). In this case, you might want to grab a copy of William Bumstead’s E4: Evaluating, Entering, Enhancing, & Exiting Privately Owned Businesses. A recommendation from my go-to exit strategy advisor and business broker, Lou Kastelic of Jordan-Crandus, E4 provides some valuable information on preparing your business for sale at any time during the phase of the company life cycle. Before or when you are ready to sell, I highly recommend touching base with Lou and seeing what your business’ value is and how to best position yourself in the marketplace.

 

Once you’ve made the first, small step in the direction of progress in any of these areas of business, you will feel like 2015 was already worth its weight in gold. What areas of business are most often not talked about and that you would like to make progress on in 2015? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Mindmapping on the Web [Archived Webinar]

Mindmapping on the Web As early as the 3rd century CE, there is evidence of the existence and use of the mind map–visual representations of connected thoughts. Mind maps utilize multiple parts of your brain and that means you’re building

Mindmapping on the Web

As early as the 3rd century CE, there is evidence of the existence and use of the mind map–visual representations of connected thoughts. Mind maps utilize multiple parts of your brain and that means you’re building mental muscles that will help in every part of your business. Mind maps can be used for brainstorming, memorizing, teaching, and problem-solving. And, in this archived Web presentation, we focus on the benefits of mindmapping on the Web for Small Business brainstorming and problem-solving purposes. We discuss mind map techniques, the business benefits, and tools you can use.

[Note: for purposes of this Webinar, we use “mind map” as a noun and “mindmap” as verb.]

Also, check out this list of mind mapping software on Wikipedia.

This Webinar, as part of the Beyond Google: Marketing and Managing on the Web series from Virginia SBDC, will be presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist, author of SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Web Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained (available in paperback and ebook versions), and President of W3 Consulting, a digital business strategy and training firm helping business owners learn why and how to use Web, mobile and digital technologies for greater marketing and management impact.

Who should watch?

  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, and solopreneurs
  • Office/sales/customer service managers, marketing directors, executives and professionals
  • Administrative/executive assistants and sales/account representatives
  • nonprofit executive directors and board members

If you do decide to start mindmapping on the Web, let us know and we can offer suggestions and recommendations on your technique. Just comment here or tweet @w3consulting on Twitter. Happy mindmapping on the Web!

Project Management on the Web [Webinar]

Project Management on the Web Project management is about making sure that a goal is reached. What a “goal” and what the outcome is typically handed to a project manager, yet that’s not really the case with Small Business. As

Project Management on the Web

Project management is about making sure that a goal is reached. What a “goal” and what the outcome is typically handed to a project manager, yet that’s not really the case with Small Business. As a business owner, you have to decide on what your business’ goal is and when you have reached the outcome. And, for most of business owners, you weren’t trained as project managers before you started your businesses. Thankfully, with a little training and some great Web technology available, you can become a decent project manager so that you can get more done in your business and handle more work than you thought you could–with calm and a stress-free perspective! In this hour-long Web presentation, we walk you through the basics of project management on the Web and then discuss several tools that you can use to better manage business- and client-based projects of any kind.

This archived Webinar recording, as part of the Beyond Google: Marketing and Managing on the Web series from Virginia SBDC, was presented by Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist, author of SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Web Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained, and President of W3 Consulting, a digital business strategy and training firm helping business owners learn why and how to use Web, mobile and digital technologies for greater marketing and management impact.

Who should watch?

  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, and solopreneurs
  • Office/sales/customer service managers, marketing directors, executives and professionals
  • Administrative/executive assistants and sales/account representatives
  • nonprofit executive directors and board members

#KaizenBiz Chat – Deep Dive Into What Social Media Trends Mean

I had the liberty of being able to finally join the #KaizenBiz Twitter chat (“tweetchat”) that happens on Fridays at noon Eastern. I have been wanting to join the tweetchat for quite some time (at the behest of Lois Martin

I had the liberty of being able to finally join the #KaizenBiz Twitter chat (“tweetchat”) that happens on Fridays at noon Eastern. I have been wanting to join the tweetchat for quite some time (at the behest of Lois Martin (@loismarketing), but work meetings, projects and other events have kept me away until now. So, it was apropos that today’s topic was entitled “Deeper Dive Into What Social Media Trends Mean.” It was a great group and the host, Elli St. George-Godfrey (@3keyscoach), handed the torch over to Cathy Larkin (@cathywebsavvypr) to guest-host for this week’s chat. She, along with the group, were warm and welcoming, and the conversation wasn’t too stuffy but got into some good, deep discussion on Social Media trends. I saw some familiar faces from the defunct #HBRchat, which was really great to see. Below is the transcript in slideshow and feed formats. Enjoy!