- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
OME has been in business since 1994, when it was incorporated as O&M Engineering Inc. Initially founded as a niche company to address the emerging technological needs of building operation and maintenance professionals, the business has adapted with the industry. OME now serves a range of clients in enhancing the performance and efficiency of building systems through innovative solutions that include optimized automation, diagnostic monitoring, data analysis and advanced visualization.
Clients still turn to OME for solutions to technological gaps and inefficiencies. The firm’s unique abilities and expertise with complex, large-scale facility systems integration and big data allow OME to deliver solutions the team classifies as “decision support systems.” With business concentrated in the mid-Atlantic and spread throughout the U.S., the firm serves commercial, institutional, government and mission-critical facilities by engaging both products and services in a conducive, support-heavy package. Headquartered in Fulton, Maryland, OME has 15 employees serving a diverse clientele.
“Typically in our industry, service providers are tied into exclusivity agreements with manufacturers or by extension manufacturers’ representatives,” explains Rick Warner, president of OME. “That inextricably ties them to a solution or a product. I believe whole-heartedly that service and product don’t make a solution on their own – the service or product has to deliver defined value with return on investment before it can be considered a solution.”
“First and foremost a solution has to solve a problem,” Warner continues. “We work with our clients to determine value or ROI, which is what we classify as a solution. Even though we work on large-scale projects – and we have won awards and gotten notoriety in regards to those projects – the solutions we take most pride in come from those small one-on-one conversations with a client. It’s that ‘aha’ moment when they’ve had issues with something, or are looking to do something differently and we help them figure out how to make that headache go away. Whether it becomes a large project or a small one, and we can save a client a significant percentage of the lifecycle costs of the building, we’ve hit a home run.”
Integrated systems data
Beyond developing solutions, OME deals heavily in data. “We’re all familiar with the concept of Google Analytics,” Warner explains. “In place of people, we deal with buildings. Our systems collect information from them, tag that data, categorize it, normalize it and analyze it. From there, we can create decision support systems for building managers.”
Whether through reporting, real-time dashboard interfaces or mobile devices, OME provides situational awareness visualization that building managers can use to respond more quickly to issues. “The concept is really simple,” Warner elaborates. “As engineers, we know how certain systems should perform, how they should consumer energy and what characteristics to define and optimize performance for that equipment. As equipment ages or has failures or other issues, it will then deviate from that engineered baseline and either start using more energy or put occupants in uncomfortable situation – in mission-critical settings this could also compromise the integrity of the equipment.
We give facility managers the opportunity to prioritize situations and address them to save equipment and reduce costs.”
Optimizing building systems
For every project, OME prioritizes safety, the operational mission of the facility and efficiency and sustainability objectives – in that order. This pecking order comes into play regardless of project size or scope. The safety of building managers and tenants always comes first, while also working to maintain equipment integrity and improve function. Although OME deals with very complex facility solutions, the company believes that it can be summed up in the following way: “We help you ‘see’ your current facility situation, ‘control’ it through properly implemented solutions and ‘save’ by continuous improvement based on the measured results.” Warner believes that high performance building solutions are not limited to energy efficiency. They should also facilitate efficiencies in the operations/maintenance department, enhance the occupant experience and improve the life-cycle sustainability profile.
One of the most memorable projects for Warner has been work the company did at the Pentagon – now a repeat client. “Our involvement goes back to before renovation – pre-9/11 – working on retrofits strategically with internal people and bringing the Pentagon into compliance with energy standards as mandated by the federal government. Being the headquarters of the Department of Defense and by extension basically an emblem for freedom around the world, they really wanted the Pentagon to be that paragon of virtue as far as energy usage, operational efficiency and as a state-of- the-art smart building.”
OME had a mandate early on to make the Pentagon’s system secure from threats, from both a physical and cyber security standpoint. The system was far ahead of its time both in efficiency gauging and security. “We’ve maintained that through the lifecycle,” says Warner. “The next phase will be focused on not only improved or enhanced energy efficiency, but also on operational efficiency. We have been working with the solutions providers from our work in the Pentagon in other areas and our current partner, Johnson Controls out of Gaithersburg, Maryland, has been a great group to work with as well as the internal Pentagon maintenance organization. Now we are starting to work more with the sustainability group and their service providers, such as Chinook Systems.”
Another project that Warner holds in high regard in consideration of sustainability has been a set of projects OME performed for AOL. “I think when it comes to smart buildings, we focus too much on energy,” he explains. “That tends to become the lens. We’ve worked with AOL’s data centers since almost day one and were involved in the integrated systems design specification. We’ve worked on a very comprehensive energy monitoring and delivery reporting application. Leveraging the information from the system, they were able to obtain Energy Star rating for the data center and participate in active energy procurement with the local electric cooperative. They even moved past the energy and took their maintenance operations completely paperless. We developed a way for mobile applications to compare real-time data with historical data in a form on an iPad and save it to the server as active maintenance information. The application also allows full access to all their maintenance and operations documentation.”
A key factor in the success of OME – and by virtue, its clients – is the company’s commitment to innovation. As Warner puts it, “Innovation is not just another word in our tagline but it is part of our culture. We are not an innovation for innovation’s sake company, but we understand that the optimum solution comes from an incremental process of continuous improvements.”
One step through the front door of the office and clients get a clear sense that they haven’t walked into a typical facility engineering services company. Standing on the shoulders of giants such as Richard Sheridan and Jeff Southerland, Warner has created a collaborative solutions environment and culture. “When developing the solution, we encourage our team to adopt a ‘fail faster’ mentality,” he elaborates. “We encourage our folks to not only force the failures, but to openly stand up in front of the team and discuss the failures or mistakes. This is the environment where true collaborative innovation can thrive.”
OME also works externally with a number of hardware and software product manufacturers to insure the company’s internal strategic vision is properly aligned with the industry. In addition to beta testing and implementation feedback, OME frequently invites solution providers to visit and interact with its team. “We host what we call ‘tribal councils,’ where we collaboratively discuss larger internal issues but also bring in other innovative solutions providers to collaborate,” says Warner. The most recent guests were J2Innovations from Chino, California. “We were really impressed with what the J2 folks have done with their solution,” he adds.
OME takes great pride in working with solutions providers and forward-thinking clients that share its passion for innovation and culture of continuous improvement.
As a U.S. Green Building Council member and 2015 attendee of the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, OME is interested in new information about LEED v4, which allows facilities that consume high volume energy to participate in green initiatives. “We’re looking at interesting projects now that could leverage LEED v4,” says Warner. “Working in mission-critical facilities, we are pleased to see data centers allowed to participate. Being heavy energy users, in my opinion, offers even more opportunity to optimize something that uses more energy. It’s an example of how LEED as a prescriptive standard can really be out in front of providing opportunities for all facilities to participate.”
Over the coming years, Warner and his colleagues are excited to see where LEED v4 and future versions lead high-consumption industries. With a high level of innovation and dedication to holistic energy data solutions, OME continues to lead the way in building performance technology.
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