Seems like everything nowadays is becoming smart. Smart watch, smart home, and now smart…meters? That’s right! Even utility meters are becoming “smart” as technologies now allow a two-way communication between the meter readings and utility or third-party platforms, allowing the “Internet of Things” to increase building operations efficiency.
Slow Down: What’s a Smart Meter?
Let’s start at the beginning: “smart meter” is a confusing, often misused term. Smart meters, at the most basic level, are utility meters that record interval data consumption and enable two-way communication. Smart meters can be installed in electric, water, and gas utility lines. To extract the data from a utility meter, typically a pulse output or Zigbee wireless protocol can be used to communicate to third party platforms.
While this is “smart” compared to a traditional meter, which has one-way communication and only sends monthly consumption data, the meter’s innovative capabilities stop there. Smart meters do not actually create “smarter” data than a traditional meter; smart meters simply produce the same type of data more frequently.
However, smart meters provide important information on utility consumption. They can produce data at various intervals, from
hourly to minute-to-minute meter readings. This data enables informed decisions by end-users to better manage their utility consumption.
Utilities Embrace Smart Meter Data
Utilities used to own all meters and meter data. End-users only received a monthly bill with no idea where their consumption was going. Now, as utilities are opening up this information, building managers can take control of their consumption data.
Green Button is a Department of Energy-led initiative that allows end-users to download their energy data directly from their utility companies through a secure platform. Green Button smart meters report data one to two days late. Additionally, this data must be manually downloaded. Even though this access to data is a step in the right direction, real-time data is the ideal standard because it provides constant information on the system for optimal monitoring and real-time alerts.
But…Meters Need Energy Management Systems
An energy management system is necessary to create actual improvements. Data without analysis simply provides numbers; a complete energy management system will provide actionable insights to vastly improve energy efficiency. Additionally, you’ll want a platform that can accommodate
the individual needs of each building in your portfolio.
Going Beyond Smart Meters
This is huge. If used optimally, this meter data can provide information that will allow:
- Easier interpretation of the energy curve with detailed interval data.
- Swift correction of negative or harmful trends.
- More time to respond to issues.
- Optimized operating schedules with new data.
- Increased tenant satisfaction and engagement with lower energy costs.
As the Internet of Things slowly infiltrates the commercial real estate industry, data-driven processes will take over the building management market–for the better. Image if every building had smart meters with energy management systems: every building would have accurate, actionable data to increase performance. Every building manager would know how the building was consuming energy, water, and gas in real time. Every energy management system could then provide analysis for the building managers to improve their energy performance.
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