Customer Feature - Justin Czech, South Hills Church of Nazarene

Justin Czech is the Technical Director for the South Hills Church of the Nazarene located in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Over the past six years he’s overseen the implementation of smart technology at the church resulting in vastly lower energy costs, a much more streamlined building management process, and increased convivence for attendees.

Hub of Choice: Justin has a whole host of Z-Wave devices running off a Konnected Alarm Panel along with using SmartThings with webCoRE to help automate the church's lighting and operations. 

What sort of research did you do before making the plunge into smart tech? 

One of the issues with our local church is that it’s been built in phases over the past 40 to 50 years. This has led to no centralized or unified system.

We were looking for ways to reduce energy costs since the building is around 20,000sq ft. along with adding scheduled automations to the HVAC system and lighting. One of our other goals was to automate our outdoor lights for security purposes.

Shortly thereafter we switched over to Z-Wave smart switches that allowed custom configuration with SmartThings. We were able to set up outdoor lighting for our needs with its custom time settings. With logic, we utilized our HVAC scheduling paired with the Church’s event calendar to kick off the parking lot floodlights based on occupancy, the lighting inside the church, and the time of year.

For us, we liked the design and setup of the Inovelli switches. It made for an easy process.

What sort of research did you do before making the plunge into smart tech?

I previously spent time with Verizon’s wireless infrastructure as a network engineer and have a background in commercial BMS systems. The church didn’t have a huge budget, but it needed in innovative solution.

In 2015 we started with an Ecobee SI system followed by adding in Inovelli switches in 2017 after switching from a company we weren’t as satisfied with. Pairing the new switches and the workload capabilities made the transition easy. Almost all the light switches and dimmers are Inovelli at this point.

We even have a few controllers tied to motion and temperature sensors to help regulate the HVAC. For example, the ceiling fans in the 30-ft high sanctuary would turn on if there was a delta of 10 degrees in the summertime. Originally our energy costs were near $35,000. After a multi-year phased implementation, our utility bills are down 50-80% following a multi-year phased implementation. 

How does the congregation interact with the switches?

The congregation doesn’t notice them that much. The most important thing is that it just works.

We have action panels in the sound booth that gives us control over the building. When a room is booked for a service or event, we add it to our scheduling software which can control temperature and lighting. Most of the process is automated through action tiles and our scheduling software. For example, we have various zones in the building shut off after it detects no occupancy for a certain period. All our exterior lighting has the local control disabled so no one can accidently turn off the switches too.

It was easy to integrate too. We have a younger pastor and an older congregation, so our biggest priority was we needed something to work with everyone and Inovelli helped with that.

What sort of research did you do before making the plunge into smart tech?

Credit goes to Reed at  SmartHomeSolver, he did a review on the Red Series Switch and it was life changing. All of a sudden I found everything I wanted in one little box. The only thing I was missing was a better way to use my ceiling fan and light. Shortly after, you took care of that and I knew this company was for me. What kept me excited about Inovelli is how easy they made it to get direct answers.

Do you have a favorite automation running?

Overall, having the heating and cooling be tied to ceiling fans & lights based on occupancy saves the most headaches.

Utilize scenes, timers, and sensors to monitor power usage throughout your space. Using smart home technology not only saves you time and hassle but maybe even money. Thanks again to Justin for taking the time to speak with us and for being part of the Inovelli community.

by Donovan, E-Commerce Marketing Analyst Oct 12th 2021

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