Which Utility Monitoring Approach is Right for Your Portfolio?

With so many different strategies and solutions for utility monitoring on the market, it can be difficult to know which one makes the most sense for your portfolio. We’ve broken down three of the most commonly-encountered metering strategies to help you assess the best approach. 

MAIN ELECTRIC MONITORING 

The foundation of every energy monitoring strategy is real-time data collected from the building’s main utility feeds, which may include water, steam, gas, and BTU, but will almost always involve electric. Main electric monitoring has many benefits; relatively speaking, it is easy and inexpensive to deploy, and the potential for finding savings is high in comparison to the startup costs. All of these factors make it possible to implement a main electric monitoring solution across an entire portfolio.

What are the benefits of main electric monitoring? 
Real-time main electric monitoring gives you full transparency into your building’s energy consumption patterns in up-to-the-minute intervals. This unlocks multiple avenues for finding savings, including:  

  • Managing and reducing peak demand 
  • Finding your building’s optimal startup time 
  • Identifying unoccupied hour runs 
  • Diagnosing BMS and other building systems configuration issues

Who is it a fit for? 
Most commercial buildings greater than 25k-50k sq. ft will see benefits from main electric monitoring. Because the installation process is relatively simple and cost-effective to manage, many owners will opt to implement a main electric monitoring solution across their entire portfolio of buildings. 

SUBMETERING 

Is your building multi-tenant? Then submetering might be the right option for you. Submetering breaks out your building’s energy consumption by space, equipment type, or source, giving you an additional layer of transparency and granularity. 

What are the benefits of submetering? 
In multi-tenant buildings, submetering can bring visibility and accountability to the utility billing process, helping you recoup costs while empowering your tenants with better access to information. With submetering, you can:

  • Accurately bill back tenants for their energy use 
  • Give tenants access to their energy data, eliminating confusion and the potential for billing disputes 
  • Influence tenant behavior change to reduce energy consumption throughout your building 
  • Empower tenants to become sustainability leaders

Who is it a fit for? 
Submetering is a fit for multi-tenant or multi-family spaces, where the potential for cost reduction is high. However, submetering is more complex to implement on a building-by-building basis than main feed electric monitoring, so might not make sense as part of a centrally-managed portfolio rollout plan. 

CIRCUIT-LEVEL MONITORING 

Circuit-level monitoring gives you the ability to track the energy consumption of individual pieces of equipment that run on dedicated circuits, such as lighting, appliances, fans and motors. But beware: this level of data collection comes at a high cost. Circuit-level monitoring is notoriously expensive and time consuming to implement and maintain, due to the complexity of the install process and the fact that many buildings simply lack up-to-date circuitry documentation (which can lead to major onboarding delays and headaches). For these reasons, it is not typically a suitable strategy for an entire portfolio to adopt as part of a top-down initiative.  

What are the benefits?
One primary use case for circuit-level monitoring is the measurement and verification of capital projects. For projects that involve a large investment to replace or update a piece of equipment, it is essential to be able to validate the financial impact – and circuit-level monitoring can help you accomplish this. 

In addition to evaluating the success of a retrofit project, circuit-level monitoring allows you to:  

  • Assess the efficiency of different appliances or pieces of equipment 
  • Monitor the performance of very large, high-consuming pieces of equipment

Who is it a fit for? 
Due to the complexity and high cost of deployment, circuit-level monitoring is regarded as a niche solution, typically best suited to medical buildings and laboratories, retail shops, or industrial buildings with many pieces of equipment and heavy machinery. Circuit-level monitoring may also make sense on a case-by-case basis when updating or replacing individual pieces of equipment and it is necessary to verify the financial impact of the investment. However, it is not usually feasible to roll out circuit-level monitoring across an entire portfolio.