Lucid, provider of the market-leading BuildingOS platform for building management, has launched a new version of BuildingOS Budgeting, an application within the BuildingOS Finance and Planning Package. BuildingOS Budgeting empowers organizations to transform how they create, track performance against, and report on electricity, gas, water, and other utility budgets for their building portfolio, delivering time savings, visibility, transparency and traceability.

Budget creation, tracking and reporting can be prohibitively time consuming and inaccurate. It can take hours to days per building to create a fiscal year budget for a single building, a process that if done manually can include consolidating bills from the previous year to use as a starting point and then adjusting for expected rate changes, conservation and efficiency projects, occupancy changes, and other factors. Moreover, its often difficult to trace decisions to understand how a colleague or consultant built and updated the budget. Finally, creating role-specific, intuitive budgeting reports and visualizations can be cumbersome and can take a great deal of time, hindering prompt decision-making.

BuildingOS Budgeting gets budgeting out of spreadsheets and brings it into the 21st century. The app breaks down data silos and gives more stakeholders access to shared data, dramatically improving the speed and accuracy of budget creation, and fostering collaboration across disciplines to impact bottom line performance. Now professionals from operations to energy and finance have visibility into budgeting components so they can collaborate more effectively to achieve their goals.

BuildingOS Budgeting delivers the following benefits:

  • Time savings: Dramatically decrease the time spent creating budgets, calculating end-of-quarter and end-of-year projections, and building reports. BuildingOS delivers time savings by automatically importing bills from more than 1,900 utilities, eliminating the need to compile bill information manually, and enabling users to import consumption and blended rates from previous years bills with a single click. Users can also easily budget for rate increases by applying an increase to all utility accounts on a rate schedule with just a few clicks.
  • Visibility and collaboration: Sophisticated auto-generated reports allow users to view reports tailored to their needs for an unlimited number of individuals on a team, fostering better communication and collaboration.
  • Traceability and transparency: All changes to budgets are fully tracked and visibly tagged, enabling users to easily identify exactly where cost and consumption adjustments were made. Users can restore data to original values at any time without losing the history of edits. The app provides full transparency into and control over how each monthly value in their budgets and predictions were calculated, reducing rework and confusion.
  • Accuracy: Organizations can increase budget and fiscal year projection accuracy by eliminating manual entry error, using bill-by-bill blended rates from previous years to calculate costs, and incorporating other cost and consumption adjustments. Auto-calculation results in more accurate end-of-month and end-of-year projections.

Using the BuildingOS Budgeting app to create monthly or quarterly reports of our burn rate against our projections and our budget is a useful way to monitor the energy spend, said Martha Larsen, manager of campus energy and sustainability at Carleton College. It gets everyone out of spreadsheets, which is a good thing!

Good morning in Memphis, where the Levitt Shell looks mighty fine and Riverside Drive is too fast, but first hellip;

Were trying something a little different to kick off this week at The 9:01. At todays Shelby County Commission meeting, the long process of Shelby County Schools budgeting for this year comes to a close, with a bit of mystery after a budget and finance committee amendment first approved this years budget, and then reopened it for debate.

On Friday afternoon, I talked to Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson about this years budget process, school closures, how we think about education, shifts in local school choice and more. Heres a sample of that conversation, edited for length:

9:01: On the budget, youd started with an $85 million gap and it had been cut down to $27 million. It looked like the budget had gotten resolved this [past] week, but then you hit a little hiccup going into Mondays vote.

Hopson: After an 8-hour marathon meeting on Wednesday, where the commission truly showed what it looks like when a legislative body works together, we came up with what I thought was a great compromise. It still didnt close all of our gap, but it got us to the point where it was very manageable, and then we left and somebody comes back in and blows it all up. Im still confident that Monday it will get resolved. But we still have work to do.

So what are your expectations?

Certainly, when you have a non-partisan, well-thought-out compromise thats supported by the majority of people in room, it suggests to me that the compromise will move forward and theyll have a final vote on it.

What we tried to do first is make an effort to show wed been really efficient the past few years. We showed that, laid it all out. Notwithstanding those cuts, our student achievement trajectory has gone up. We showed improvement last year in nine of 10 testing categories, outpacing the state in seven of those categories. Our iZone is doing very well. Our graduation rate is up. Our attendance rate is up.

So I think that people were appreciative of the efforts to cut over the years, and also heard us loud and clear that when you have positive momentum, the way to keep that going is not to cut $27 million. Given that and given the comments from everyone, you expect and hope we get to a good place on Monday.

How much of the budgeting tension, in your mind, is about a overall scarcity of resources and how much of it is about valuing the investment in education specifically?

I think most of it is about scarcity of resources. There was a lot of support from the business and philanthropic communities, from so many segments of the community. But the caveat that we heard repeatedly was we want to avoid a tax increase; we have the highest tax rate of anybody in the state. But I think what happened was we were able to show that this funding could be produced without a tax increase [using funds from the wheel tax]. But I understand. I mean, when we were down there, the deputy jailers wanted an increase. The sheriff wants an increase. The DA wants an increase, so theres tension around the county with everyone wanting more. The property tax collections are up, so that creates a little bit more in the pie, but, I think because the wheel tax was on the table, it took us out of competition mode with some of the others that were asking for increases.

You announced two school closures, but theres still a lot of under-enrollment across the district. Is there a sense that some would like the district to speed up finding efficiencies in those areas?

I think certainly you have a few county commissioners who have made that their clarion call, to close schools. The reality is that weve got 27,000 more seats than kids, so weve got to right-size the district. I think theres a misconception about the kinds of savings you get from closing schools, which is why I think we should be closing schools not for savings but rather to improve the quality of the education. If weve got three schools within a two-mile radius and all of them are failing or underutilized, then I think those three schools could fold into two schools or one school and we can invest additional resources, so the kids can have the kind of support and extracurricular activities that they wouldnt [otherwise] be able to get.

What weve found is the relative savings, when you compare to the heartache in a community, is not that great. You probably save around $400,000 a school. Oftentimes, you increase your transportation costs, because those kids cant walk to school. Now they have to be bused somewhere. So I think the focus of our lens has to be on school quality. Ive been telling the board since December that we intend to bring an aggressive plan in September that looks at a way to address those 27,000 seats. So you could be talking about anywhere from 18 to 25 schools over a three or four-year period. And I think that thats in the works and its going to happen, at my recommendation to the board. Its not really prodded by anyone at the County Commission.

I think that, you know, oftentimes we have these discussions, and people will use that in some instances as a pretext for not wanting to adequately fund the schools.

Is there a challenge, not in a legislative context, but in a community context, in getting people to think of education in terms of investment rather than expense?

Absolutely. We start from a negative place, because there are people who still have a sour taste in their mouth from the merger. And then there are so many people who had a negative view of the former Memphis City Schools. So oftentimes you have to get past so many hurdles that are caused by preconceived notions. They say, there they go asking for money again, not realizing the number of cuts weve made in an attempt to be more efficient. But we need to shift the conversation toward investing in students. Someone made the statement at the County Commission meeting that we spend, as a county, $107 a day on an inmate and $16 a day per student. And if you know that youre going to have to spend the money one way or another, in many respects its more efficient and a better investment on the front end than talking about housing somebody in the criminal justice system.

Jennifer Pignolet has a story this weekend about shifting school options and choices in Midtown. I live in the general Midtown area and have two kids in public schools and I sense, anecdotally, that theres a shift happening back to public schools among people who might have gone the private route before. Do you sense this?

Let me put my plug in first. I have a rising fourth grader and a rising second grader that go to Idlewild. Having spent time in Idlewild, Maxine Smith, Snowden, Bellevue, Peabody, I dont think that for the overall educational experience, you can get a better education in private schools. And youre already paying for it as a taxpayer. Midtown embodies diversity, everything we want Memphis to be. When my daughter started Idlewild kindergarten four years ago, there was space there. Now theyve got a waiting list. Same thing with Peabody. Maxine Smith, where people are lined up out here for the optional transfer process, ninety percent were for Maxine Smith. I think if youre going to have a great community, its got to start with great schools. I think weve done a really good job in terms of Midtown, but I think the push needs to be, how do you have the same great school options in Frayser and South Memphis and North Memphis too?

There are some instances where if a parent feels like they wont get the same kind of opportunity, thats one thing. But if we can show you, heres a great school thats going to be similar or better than the options youre paying $12, $15, $18 thousand dollars for now, I think thats got to give people something to think about.

If youre bringing more taxpayers, more middle-class people, into the school system, is there a wider value there in terms of shifting that question about thinking about school funding in terms of investment vs. expense, and does that start to impact the wider community conversation?

Id have to think so. For a parent who chooses to send their child to private school, theyre not going to be as invested in the funding debate as other people would be. Thats the other part of strong schools, strong communities. Because youve got very involved parents who do things to supplement the school experience too. Just imagine, as opposed to paying $15 grand, youre able to free that up to save for college, but then also put two or three grand back into your school.

Two Great Places: OK, so I spent a lot of my weekend being a homebody: Repairing some rotting wood on my deck, perfecting my cast-iron steak technique and watching TV (NBA Finals Game Seven + Game of Thrones Battle of the Bastards episode? Yes, please.). But I did get out a little bit, and let me give praise here to two great public places that make Memphis better: On Friday night, after a West Tennessee catfish excursion (more on this later), we stopped off at the Collierville town squareon the way home for ice cream and it remains, as ever, pretty as a peach. The square was full of people, in small groups, having country/bluegrass sing-and-play-alongs, surrounding by listeners, strolling families, dogs. Shoutout to the one group doing a spirited version of Merle Haggards Swinging Doors.

On Saturday night, we made a belated first trip to the Levitt Shell (singer-songwriter Frazey Ford with some Hi Rhythm help) after its big renovations. Summer travels and other commitments had kept us away until this weekend, and, well, one of Memphis very best public spaces is even better. Every change: Lighting, elevated party/gathering spaces, new bathrooms, new sidewalk down one side, and especially a dedicated food truck/vending area is smartly conceived, add to the spaces user-friendliness without detracting from its casual charm. Well done.

Speak On It:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. On Wednesday, June 22 Nonprofit University will host a one-day training event at the Von Braun Center. This training will allow you to sharpen your professional skills and network with other nonprofits.

People who attend will have the opportunity to hear from expert speakers on topics such as board development, grant writing, social media/websites and volunteer management.

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  A state-funded professional training center begins a three-day conference Monday in Charleston just days after it faced possible elimination in the state budgeting process.

Funding had been stripped away from the West Virginia Center for Professional Development (WVCPD) in the budget plans that were going back and forth between Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state lawmakers. When the budget (SB1013) passed the Senate last week it had no funding for the Center but House members were able to add back $1.5 million. That amount was later approved by the Senate and part of the budget signed into law by Tomblin last Friday.

WVCPD lost about $700,000 in the process but chief executive officer Dr. Dixie Billheimer is just glad the funding made it through.

We appreciate all of the work theyve had to do because theyve been faced with some tough decisions and we understand that. We really appreciate the governor and the legislators, Billheimer said.

The Center for Professional Development trains teachers in a number of areas. It also oversees Advanced Placement courses, conducts academies for school principals along with other training. During last weeks floor debate, a member of the House criticized the Center for getting away from its original 1991 mission to solely train teachers. Billheimer said theyve only added programs the legislature has mandated.

The Centers original mission may have been solely for teachers but the Center has been added into state code that we provide the principals leadership academy that we are the center for advanced placement in West Virginia, we have a professional development component and last year we were even added for the Jason Flatt Act to make sure we provide online resources for suicide prevention, she said. We follow what we are given to do in state code.

The Center, which has 16 employees, may be in for changes because it will receive less funding in the new budget. Billheimer said the agency is operated efficiently and carry-over funds may make any impact less severe.

The possible elimination of the Center may serve as a wake-up call to teachers and principals who have benefited from its programs, Billheimer said.

They are starting to be more aggressive in telling our story as well because they value what we do, she said.

The Center will host educators beginning Monday in Charleston for a three-day Infusing Technology Academy at the Charleston Marriott.