Utilizing Submeter Data For Better Building Management February 25, 2016 | Kelia Cowan

When working to achieve a particular goal on your property, submetering is often your answer. Coupled with a good energy management software, submeters provide insights that enable property managers to go far beyond traditional operations information. Utilizing the right submeter technology, a property manager can build better relationships with tenants, promote building sustainability, and cut back on expenses.

 

Tenant Invoicing Is A Breeze With Submeters

Tenants want to be billed accurately and on-time; if a property manager can provide this, tenants are pretty satisfied. However, traditional tenant invoicing can take days, from manual meter reads to estimating energy use per square foot to actually sending out the invoices. By installing submeters with a good energy management system, a property manager can automate tenant invoicing to reduce a multi-day process to just a few clicks. Property managers know the bills are accurate because submeters collect the real consumption of each tenant, and these bills can be delivered straight to a tenant’s inbox right away.

With this added time back, property managers can spend more time interacting with tenants and providing desired amenities instead of sitting behind a desk going through manual meter readings and spreadsheets.

 

Reduce Operating Expenses With Optimized Building Operations

Traditionally, property managers only knew how much a building consumed when the monthly or quarterly utility bills arrived. Submeters completely change the consumption game by providing real-time data insights to electric, water, and gas consumption. With this data, property managers and building engineers can easily identify areas of inefficiency.  Factors like baseloads, early start, late stop, and weekend runs are often the cause of high consumption. Submetering allows property managers to go even further, by looking at the consumption rates of specific floors, spaces, and equipment.

By making simple operational changes, property managers can often reduce energy bills by 10-20%. Particularly for buildings with high energy consumption, that can result in significant savings. Plus, real-time energy data from submeters allows property managers to reduce consumption during peak demand, thereby furthering the amount saved. After reducing operating expenses, a property manager can redirect the money to more value-add measures, such as implementing new tenant amenities, or utilize this reduction in bills to increase profit margin.

 

Promote Building Sustainability Projects

With the great work done to improve building operations and efficiency, property managers can track and promote their accomplishments to further advance their buildings. Sustainability reporting and benchmarking to organizations like Energy Star and GRESB have become very popular in the past few years, enabling property managers to see how their buildings stack up to similar-use properties. Tenants are willing to pay more for sustainable buildings, which provides a strong marketing angle to promote vacant spaces to new, potential tenants.

Others take this a step further by participating in sustainability awards and challenges to continue to drive efficiency efforts. Regional competitions, like the Smarter DC Challenge, encourages property managers and tenants to take energy efficiency further by competing to reduce the greatest amount of consumption; universities and other campuses will often hold internal sustainability competitions. National challenges, like the Better Buildings Initiative, push property managers to reduce a specific amount or percentage of electricity, water, or gas consumed. Regardless of the methods taken, publishing a sustainability report to further promote a sustainable building and track success is vital to continued improvement.

 

How Water Submetering Helped The Tower Companies

The Tower Companies (Tower), a DC-based property management group, joined the Better Buildings Challenge to advance their sustainability leadership. Tower installed water submeters on one of their building’s cooling towers to better understand their water use, providing data to make targeted reduction efforts. After analyzing consumption patterns, the engineering team made simple changes such as:

  • Changing the float assembly
  • Lowering the high water level in the cooling tower
  • Relocating water sensors within the cooling tower sump

Through the course of a year, they blew their 20% goal out of the water (pun intended) by reducing their total building water consumption in by 45%. Although water is generally considered an inexpensive utility, The Tower Companies saved more than $14,000 on their annual bills through this reduction effort. Their tenants are proud to live in such an efficient, sustainable building that continues to win awards for its progress.

Clearly, there are many benefits to installing submeters in your building. From billing tenants accurately, to identifying severely inefficient areas, to sustainability tracking, submetering is a great solution for many everyday problems that property managers face. So, the question is no longer, “Why should I submeter my building?” to “What am I waiting for?

 

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About The Author

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Aquicore, Kelia Cowan manages the company’s content and events, including the company blog, social media channels, resources, email marketing campaigns, webinars, and conferences. Simultaneously, she fields questions on how to “properly” pronounce her name.

Previously, Kelia was the Marketing and Communications Fellow at Cleantech Open Northeast, where she focused on digital content and event coordination. As an undergraduate student, she worked in various communication roles at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Energy Excelerator. Kelia left the paradise of Honolulu, Hawai’i, to attain a B.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Environmental Analysis & Policy from Boston University.