Doing it Right

ESC Automation is an all-in-one solutions provider for advanced building automation systems

ESC Automation is an all-in-one solutions provider for advanced building automation systems

As a service provider of advanced building automation solutions, Surrey-based ESC Automation is involved in some of the most high-profile projects on the West Coast. Its portfolio includes everything from public-private partnerships like the Royal Jubilee Hospital to LEED mixed-use undertakings like Telus Garden.

While ESC’s portfolio speaks for itself, the company also focuses on its core values and “do it right” credo. ESC’s philosophy has played a crucial role in evolving the company from a small firm to Western Canada’s largest building automation solutions provider. “We can’t overstate how important our values are to our success,” says ESC general manager Jim Van Spronsen. “If we didn’t fully believe in ‘doing it right’ and giving our clients trouble-free installation of our automation systems, chances are we wouldn’t be asked to maintain these systems later on. This has become a huge part of our business, something that helps differentiate us from the competition.”

Service and maintenance are top priorities for clients, partly because automation systems have become so sophisticated and widespread, and partly because the budgets for maintenance staff in public and private facilities are increasingly strained. Thankfully, today’s building management systems make it easier to manage sites. By using customized dashboards that display key data, all systems are integrated to give a one-page management view, even across multiple sites. ESC installs Delta’s enteliWEB building operating system, which allows the system to be adjusted directly from the software, giving clients the freedom to act quickly and control a facility’s operations costs. “It’s important to us to provide good value,” says Van Spronsen. “By helping our clients help themselves, day-to-day maintenance costs can be controlled, while we step in for more complex or scheduled maintenance cycles.”

ESC’s most distinguishing feature is the fact that the company is an all-in-one solutions provider. In 1986, ESC founders Brian Goodchild and Raymond Rae created Delta Controls Inc., a manufacturer of DDC building automation products and software. Although housed in the same headquarters, the two companies operate separately. ESC acts as Delta’s distribution arm representing B.C., Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Washington, Oregon and the Greater Toronto area.

Over the years, Delta has evolved into a powerful firm in its own right, with more than 300 partners in over 70 countries. It adheres to the ASHRAE industry standard BACnet protocol, through which it integrates HVAC, lighting and access controls, and closed circuit television. All of these systems can be monitored and controlled through a user-friendly, web-based interface, giving operators full control of a facility from a single workstation, or any remote site using web access. “It’s a harmonious relationship,” says Fred Messmer, director of Canadian operations. “Delta develops and manufactures the systems, we install them, and if something needs to be tweaked or modified the Delta people are on hand in the other half of our headquarters.”

More recently, ESC was responsible for creating a joint venture company with Delta. CopperTree Analytics is part of an emerging service that uses energy sensors linked to a dashboard to analyze functioning components of smart buildings in order to calibrate them for optimal energy performance. “The bottom line is that clients want to save energy and money, and so the industry—and ESC—evolves accordingly,” says Van Spronsen.  

ESC balances exciting local projects like Telus Garden and valued long-lasting client relationships with VGH, Vancouver International Airport, BCIT and SFU. Messmer says ESC’s recent involvement in public-private partnership projects like the Royal Jubilee Hospital, the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre and Fort St. John Hospital were beneficial to the company, and he anticipates further P3 projects in the near future. “The team-oriented nature of P3 projects dovetails very well with our operating philosophy.”

Even though the automation industry is evolving at a furious pace and competition is fierce, ESC has all the elements in place to continue growing. “I think automation controls will increasingly become a commodity business and there will be more of a focus on energy conservation,” says Van Spronsen. “We’re well positioned to handle this market because we’re thinking ahead and investing in energy analytics and fault detection with CopperTree.”  

Messmer concludes: “Our ability to deliver complex projects, like many of the 2010 Winter Olympic venue systems we designed and installed, means we have the skills to solve almost any building automation challenge. And now that the economy is finally starting to improve in the U.S., we see a lot of growth potential in Seattle and Portland. No matter how big we become, we’ve structured the company so that we never lose focus on the people part of our business, or waver from our commitment to ‘do it right.’”