Content provided by Sam Dib, Aquicore’s VP of Operations
Historically, granular energy data provided by submetering has been reserved for very large and complex buildings that require the ability to separate out the components of their energy spending. Even though smaller buildings would have benefited from getting granular energy data from submetering, it wasn’t a financially viable option until recently.
Over the last few years, it has become significantly easier and cheaper to install and maintain submeters for buildings, and now is a good time to take advantage of the technology.
1. Utility Companies Are Using Smart Meters
Back in the old days, the only way to collect energy data was to physically read utility meters. Representatives from utility companies would have to drive out to buildings every month in order to generate bills.
In the last decade, utility companies in the United States began utilizing smart meters, allowing them to automatically retrieve building energy data through a private network.
Making Access to Meter Data Affordable
Aside from no longer getting those pesky “estimated bills,” most smart utility meters now have pulse outputs. This allows third party vendors to connect data acquisition devices and collect real-time data directly from the meters, dramatically reducing implementation costs for real-time solutions.
In addition to collecting the data via data-acquisition hardware, smart meters also allow 3rd parties such as GreenButton to collect data directly from utility companies. This service is still in its infancy and is only available in select areas, but it offers great promise to help building owners get building data in the future.
Even if your buildings don’t have smart meters or utility meters with pulse outputs yet, you can always request them from your utility company. Alternatively, you can use third party meters, especially if you want more refined submetering. This option is finally becoming affordable as icreasing competition is significantly driving prices down significantly.
2. Web-Enabled Meters
For a long time, installing meters in a building didn’t necessarily mean that the energy data would be easily accessible. With traditional submeters, the only way to access and collect data was to to go down to the basement and physically read the meter. Its no wonder that building engineers and facility manager were still left with only a few data points to work with. At best, submeters either integrated with a Building Management System (BMS) or would connect with some type of local desktop. Unfortunately, these methods present challenges to energy management and interpretation because data reports are not widely accessible to key stakeholders.
Making Meter Data Accessible and Intelligible
Web-enabled meters and submeters communicate the energy data they read directly to the Internet. This data, stored in the cloud, can then be easily accessed by third party vendors, allowing them to streamline sleek reports that clearly show where the most energy is being consumed in a given building and how it can be reduced.
Web-enabled meters are a major game changer for the energy industry, and they should certainly be utilized to facilitate an understanding of energy data for building owners.
Web-enabled meters offer a fast and easy way to access energy data across all buildings in a portfolio regardless of the state or condition of the building or its BMS. That means there’s no up-front design costs or system integration costs associated with installing one.
3. Wireless Meters
Before wireless meters, the only way to bring data from meters to the gateway that sends data to the Internet was to pull wires across the building. This is often time-intensive and expensive, especially when trying to get granular data via numerous submeters within a property. These up-front costs kept the technology from being widely adopted by the real-estate industry. Most buildings would only implement a few submeters, if any, which did not provide full transparency into energy consumption.
Dramatically Cutting Submeter Installation Time and Cost
With the combination of web-enabled and wireless technologies, it is no longer necessary to pull wires to implement multiple meters. Instead of physically connecting all of the submeters to the gateway, they can be connected wirelessly, making the process significantly less expensive.
Because of these game changers, real-time energy data is no longer out of reach. Building engineers and facility managers can now get real-time data to figure out exactly when and where problems are occurring in their buildings.