Beyond Measure

Ideas and news about electrical submetering.

Energy Management

Successful Energy Management Through Submetering, Part 1

Mr. Harrington had it right; measurement is the key to improvement — and nowhere does that ring truer than managing a building's energy. But in the energy management arena, it's not just what you measure that is important.

How you measure it, how accurate it needs to be, how much it will cost, how you deploy your meters, and what you do with the energy data once you have it are equally important questions to consider.

It Starts with the Meter

Multi-point Versus Single-point?

Single-point meters are handy for measuring specific points of interest in a building. However, to gain sufficient knowledge to make successful energy management decisions, complete building coverage is required. Compared to single-point meters, multi-point meters offer several advantages related to cost, deployment, and integration.

Advantage One — Low Cost Per Meter Point

Most buildings offer convenient electrical panel organization where multiple points of interest are easily accessible. Multi-point meters excel in these situations because they can be efficiently deployed — reducing the cost per meter point significantly when compared to single-point meters.

Advantage Two — Significantly Reduced Footprint

In addition to a decrease in capital cost per meter point, multi-point meters greatly reduce the footprint required for meter installation — an important consideration in retrofit applications where space is at a premium.

Advantage Three — Easily Accessible Energy Data

Along with space and costs savings, multi-point meters offer data flexibility. A well-executed metering plan results in an information acquisition hub that can be easily integrated into existing systems (building automation and financial, for example) or can work as an independent collection and distribution center.

Approved, Standards-Based Meters

There is a growing wave of regulation throughout the United States focused on the metering of electricity consumption. Many cities and states are establishing directives to reduce energy use and align electricity payment with consumption. If money changes hands (as with government incentive programs or tenant billing, for example), certified meters become a legislated requirement in these jurisdictions [2].

Regulatory bodies are using the tried and tested ANSI C12.20 0.5 accuracy class as the standard meters must meet and requiring third-party laboratory certification to prove that they do.

California's Title 24 and New York City's Local Laws 97 and 88 are recent examples of governments legislating approved submetering solutions for energy management and tenant billing applications.

Open-Systems for Future-Proof Integration

In addition to ANSI C12.20 0.5 approved meters, savvy property owners install open systems meters for easy integration with existing energy management, tenant billing and building automation systems.

Standards-based meters that use open protocols help property managers and building owners avoid vendor "lock-in" while keeping them in control of their own data. They also ensure that the meters can keep pace with technology evolution — lasting for many years to come.

Cloud-based Meter Maintenance and Data Management

Cloud-based energy management systems avoid the energy information gap by making data visible to all stakeholders as needed.

Many submetering networks are managed through onsite meter management systems, proprietary gateways, or dedicated server-based applications. Installing these systems presents obstacles to meter management and maintenance, as well as data accessibility.

Cloud-based energy management systems avoid these pitfalls and bridge the energy information gap by making data visible to all stakeholders as needed. They accomplish this by communicating concurrently with building automation systems over building automation protocols and information technology systems over internet protocols.

Data that was once only available within facilities management can now be made available to anyone with the need to know. Operations personnel can monitor and maintain a metering network while property managers and building owners can access the data they need to make energy management decisions.

So, Where to From Here?

The bottom line is this. The key to jump-starting successful energy management projects is to deploy approved, standards-based multi-point meters. These systems are cost-effective, integrate easily with existing financial and energy management systems, allow for staged and affordable implementation, and protect building owners and managers against ever-evolving industry standards and business requirements.

But now that you’ve chosen the type of meter to deploy, what’s next?

Stay tuned for the second instalment of our two-part series on Submetering for Energy Management. In it we will step through the process of designing and executing a metering plan for energy management purposes — pointing out some potential deployment pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.

[1] LIBQUOTES: James Harrington

[2] National Conference of State Legislatures, Utility Submetering, January 15, 2016

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