Reader Profile: Ian Peshel

June 8, 2018

IAN PESHEL, CEM, MSE, believes the facility management position is viewed now more than ever as a way to help businesses increase bottom-line revenue. “They don’t want facilities to be just an expense,” says Peshel, director of facilities for City Furniture, a large south Florida-based furniture retailer with one million square feet in warehouse and corporate facility space and 1.1 million square feet in showroom space across 27 retail sites, warehouses, and a corporate office. “They want to look at it holistically. What’s my ROI if I spend some money on upgrading to LED lights? What is the present value in those dollars versus investing it somewhere else in the company? Those are the types of decisions I’m seeing more now throughout facility management. In this digital age when we have all of this information about how things are performing, it’s getting more important.”

When Peshel took his job with City Furniture, the company was focusing energy efficiency efforts on new buildings—there are six LEED showrooms—but he realized there were a lot of opportunities to upgrade older sites with LED track lights and exterior LED lights and replace aging equipment such as air-conditioning units that exceeded their useful life with high-efficiency units. The company also participates in a commercial demand response program and also has a 2-MW generator. Water efficiency efforts include low-irrigation landscaping and a drip irrigation system to reduce water usage.

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The company’s recent significant building automation system upgrade “allowed us to get more in-depth with demand control ventilation and have different light levels in the showroom at different times,” says Peshel. Changing lighting has lessened not only utility expenses, but lighting operational expenses as well. The LED life cycle means the company can reduce labor time and expenses in maintenance. The same is true of building controls. “We’re able to catch a lot of issues before they become a major service call,” adds Peshel.

What Led Him Into This Line of Work
As a child, Peshel enjoyed building with Legos. He had wanted to be an architect, but eventually pursued mechanical engineering. “I liked to learn how things worked and take them apart,” he says, adding that he always found energy interesting. He earned an M.S. degree in engineering management from Ohio University and a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Youngstown State University. He took a job with an energy service company doing measurement verification for performance contracts before taking on his present post.

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What He Does Day to Day
Each day is different, such as a recent day in which Peshel was mitigating an issue with a critical chiller that cools part of the company’s data center. Peshel is responsible for managing all aspects of City Furniture’s facilities department with a staff of 14 facility managers and overseeing a $5.5 million annual operating budget and a $1 million capital expenses budget. Peshel conducts repair and replacement life cycle analyses. As the company expands, Peshel works with architects and consulting engineering firms to ensure that “we don’t use something design-wise that’s going to be operationally inefficient down the line,” he notes. “I do a lot of plan reviews, energy efficiency projects, and operational maintenance reductions.”

What He Likes Best About His Work
“My true passion in this line of work is trying to make everything as efficient as possible, whether it be energy efficiency, utilities, water reduction, or making a system or process more efficient,” says Peshel.

His Greatest Challenge
Peshel says being a millennial in a profession where the average age of a facility manager is close to 50 can entail “quite a change” in bringing in new technology, tools, and processes, and using data to do measurement verification and analytical work with information attained from systems and with building controls as a key cornerstone in facilities management along with a good work order system to track performance. “The digitalization of modernization is a big challenge,” he says. “Intertwined with that in facilities is the relationship you develop with vendors and internal employees—whether a facility manager, custodian, or maintenance technician—and not losing that human connection while you’re trying to modernize and digitalize everything. That’s who you depend on to get the work done.” 
About the Author

Carol Brzozowski

Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to resource management and technology.