NFMT Vegas 2018

The NFMT shows are on our short list of events we regularly attend. This year's event was held in Las Vegas at the Rio, November 6-7. The conference offers many educational sessions as well as a large expo hall featuring everything facilities related, from flood protection barriers to building automation systems.

With so many educational sessions available, it can be hard to choose which to attend. As a technology provider, we can be insulated from the everyday issues facilities professionals face these educational sessions provide a great opportunity for exposure to what's going on in the industry.

The topic of Big Data made an appearance, with Jeff Nichols' session on Big Data and Analytics: the Next Frontier for Energy Management. Nichols is Vice President of Operations and Project Manager at Engineering Economics, Inc. ( Nichols spoke about the use of data to drive optimization though commissioning. He also spoke about legislation and "benchmarking" ordinances that exist throughout the country that require certain Energy Star ratings. For example, Seattle requires a building "tune up" for buildings that score below a rating of 75. He also shared the site as a resource for energy management and information systems. Of course, the data itself doesn't magically solve any problems, it's what you do with the data once you have it.

The next session was Understanding the Life Cycle Cost of a Building Automation System, by Scott Holstein, Director of Marketing for Computols, Inc. ( This session was of interest to S4 because we work closely with most BAS manufacturers, but an unexpected bonus was that integration got to share some of the spotlight of the session. Scott shared a lot of interesting information related to the initial and ongoing costs of a BAS; 75% of a building's life cycle cost is operational. Maintenance costs can depend on the skills available in-house. Recommissioning is an important part of maintaining the equipment, and should also be done at the time of head-end replacement when doing an integration project. Scott mentioned that the industry is moving away from proprietary systems, but even the BACnet protocol can have different "flavors." Looking to the future, Scott mentioned IoT, Power over Ethernet, machine learning and AI, which brings us back to Big Data. Most buildings, regardless of BAS, can participate in Big Data. Our N2 routers with the Upstream option do just that, by publishing legacy building data to analytics programs. There was a lot of new information in Scott's session, as well as a lot of synergy with what we do at S4.

As always, the Women in FM panel discussion was a highlight of the NFMT experience. The room was packed for this popular event. There were three panelists: Tracy Higuera, District Manager for Sodexo, Pamela Tyler, Director of Facilities for the Rio All-Suites Hotel Casino, which happened to be the location of the event, and Saddie Smith, Vice President of Facilities and Field Services for Con Edison. These three women were all very knowledgeable and experienced, and had a lot of wisdom to share. A major theme of the discussion was teamwork and the skills that go along with being a part of a team. Some of these skills include communication, self-management and the ability to lead by example, and empathy. Another great piece of advice was to be straight forward, clear with expectations, and follow through. Women in FM is a valuable staple in the NFMT lineup, it's a nice opportunity to get the perspectives and experiences from the panelists.

On the show floor, we look for new manufacturers and trends. Wi-Fi thermostats have been gaining popularity over the years, and this year Emerson had their Wi-Fi thermostat, the Sensi, on display. Automated Logic had a booth, as well as EasyIO. Vitality Energy, based in Utah, was a new contact for S4, although it turned out that we had been involved in a project together in the past. Energy management and analytics, internet-enabled devices, and, a surprising development, systems integration, were all hot topics at the show.

The next NFMT event will be in Baltimore, Maryland, March 26-28, 2019.