Driving higher efficiency from the field to the office
Home energy rating requirements are regulated by RESNET, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and all these requirements are subject to frequent changes reflecting new policies and improved knowledge of building science. To adapt in such a dynamic business environment, Ballard and his team launched a search for a technology solution to streamline their energy rating program.
“We needed an inspection management system that enabled the latest information coming from our industry councils to be reflected in the forms used by our field staff,” says Ballard. “We also had to record field data more efficiently to improve accuracy and responsiveness.”
Ballard tapped the resources of FileMaker Platinum Developer, AlaMark Technologies in San Antonio, to create a customized energy inspection management solution running on FileMaker Server hosted in AlaMark’s data center. Builders Energy Rater also equipped its field staff with iPads running FileMaker Go for iPad, a free FileMaker client available from the App Store that allows them to view their FileMaker information. Builders Energy Rater has plans to expand the reach to iPhones in the near future, and will use the free FileMaker Go for iPhone.
Leveraging the capabilities of the FileMaker Platform, Builders Energy Rater’s inspection management system enables the company to create new types of energy-rating services based on updated regulations and link them with program-specific tasks that must be completed to comply with the latest industry regulations. Each task and its requirements are also associated with a set of skills required to successfully complete the task and assigned to an employee with the appropriate certifications. The setup work is done on both Mac and Windows desktops using FileMaker Pro clients, with the information being stored centrally on FileMaker Server.
When field inspectors sign onto their iPads, they are immediately presented with their tasks for the day. As each task is completed, the data is uploaded to FileMaker Server and exported directly into the company’s modeling software, which estimates the amount of energy a house will consume. Office employees access the energy inspection management solution from their desktops via the Internet using FileMaker Pro 12.
“Construction happens in specific stages beginning with insulation first and then dry wall. So, if the tasks aren’t completed when due, then it might not be possible to obtain the data later,” Ballard points out. “With FileMaker, we can make sure that all tasks are scheduled and completed on time so we don’t miss a step.”