For building managers aspiring to implement a comprehensive conservation strategy, it’s not enough to simply reduce consumption of energy and water. True resource management calls for ongoing measurement and analysis. Modern monitoring technology allows building managers to measure energy and water consumption with a finer level of detail.
These submetering capabilities can give consumption data for individual buildings, even individual rooms. More specific resource consumption information empowers building managers with more detailed information to incorporate into conservation strategies.
Going Beyond the Meter
Water and electric meters have been the standard points for measuring consumption. That’s been true of any building, both commercial and residential. These meters can only measure and bill for water and energy consumption for the entire building. Submetering consists of installation of additional monitoring devices throughout a building. These devices can provide information about water and energy consumption throughout the building, categorizing the usage based on location, function, and time.
Submetering technology is part of the growing influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) within building management. IoT technology works by deploying a number of sensors that collect and share information, typically via an Internet connection. These smart devices collect data in real time. But software also analyzes that data over a long period of time, yielding trend and seasonal information. This submetering IoT technology enables building managers for both commercial and residential properties to have tenant-level data of energy and water consumption.
“It is this detailed information that enables the creation of a cost saving energy consumption strategy,” notes a recent article in Facility Executive. “And the permanent presence of the submeter allows for continuous commissioning and cost saving verification.”
The Growing Adoption of Submeters
The market for electric submeters is growing. According to figures from Navigant Research, the global market for electric submeters is projected to reach $2.5 billion by 2024, up from $949.7 million in 2015. North America and Europe are projected to lead market adoption of submeters.
The cost of implementing submetering has come down as the technologies that comprise these systems come down in cost. But submetering does not come without problems. Introduction of the technology has posed problems to some property owners because of power outages that can occur during installation, as well as the cost of specialized labor to install these systems, Navigant explains.
These obstacles do not outweigh the benefits of submetering technology, but they are important factors for building managers to be aware of as they consider ways to fine-tune their conservation strategies. For example, time and trend analysis of power consumption data can help building managers figure out which power-consuming activities should be shifted to a different time of day that might offer a lower billing rate. In another example, a facility could stagger its sequence of powering up its systems in order to avoid expensive peaks of energy consumption. In a retail setting, submetering allows facilities managers to bill each tenant of a shopping mall individually. With precise consumption data, the manager can allocate charges by use, rather than by square footage.
Investing for the Future
Building managers who don’t yet include submetering as part of a wider energy efficiency strategy could be leaving money on the table. Though the savings each facility or building can expect to see from submetering will vary depending on factors such as climate and building type, the National Institute of Standards Technology concludes that numerous case studies show that the return on investment can be significant.