Submetering a building has become a relatively common practice in building operations, yet not all property managers have taken advantage of the benefits that submetering offers. Let’s step back to examine how submetering can maximize the value of property management teams.
A submeter is a device that collects real-time data through a connection to any electric, water, or gas source in a building. Submeters can break down consumption by space, equipment, or source. A property can have one submeters or 200 submeters, depending on the data points of interest. With the advent of wireless and web-enabled metering technologies, submeters are inexpensive, easy to install, and significantly advance the capabilities of a property management team.
Building management teams can significantly improve their operational efficiency with cloud-enabled submeters that transmit energy consumption data in real-time. With this technology, building engineers no longer need to walk an entire building to read each meter manually, nor do they need to compile all meter readings in spreadsheets. Cloud-enabled submeters can send energy data to a centralized platform in real-time so detailed information that used to take hours to collect is available at a property manager’s fingertips. In a good energy management system, property managers can automate tenant invoicing as well, so billing tenants takes just minutes instead of days.
Automating these manual tasks allow building operations teams to direct their efforts to better value-add projects, such as engaging with tenants or initiating new projects to make the building even better.
Most buildings only have one utility meter; this makes it impossible to see where exactly electricity, water, and gas is being consumed throughout a building. By utilizing real-time submetering, building owners, operators, and tenants can see where and when utility resources are consumed to identify areas of improvement, such as faulty equipment, inefficient machinery, or running the building unnecessarily. Real-time data can be used to help the team choose energy efficiency projects that have the greatest impacts and returns on their property. Measurement and verification will track changes in consumption pattern to ensure that every data-driven step the building takes pushes a property management group closer to its goals.
After identifying areas of inefficiency, building management teams can take immediate action to cut back on wasted consumption. Often, buildings run at times when they don’t need to be on; by making no or low cost operational changes, such as turning on the building later and shutting it down earlier, many teams have found thousands of dollars in energy bill savings.
Insights into building consumption go much further than operational adjustments. By submetering equipment, engineers are able to make sure all parts of the building are functioning properly. If one particular machine is consuming more than others, an engineering team can examine why this is happening. Additionally, real-time alerts can notify an engineering team if consumption surpasses a particular threshold.
The Tower Companies, a DC-based property management group, submetered their cooling towers because the property management team suspected one of the floats was malfunctioning. Over Easter weekend, the cooling tower consumed far above the normal threshold – alerting the engineering team that something was wrong. The engineer on-call discovered the faulty float had caused the cooling tower to overflow. By submetering this equipment, The Tower Companies was able to prevent a weekend flood that could have wrecked other equipment and ruined tenant spaces, saving 80,000 gallons of water in the process.
Submetering makes the lives of building managers and engineers significantly easier by providing new transparency into consumption. Without this technology, property management teams would be stuck in the dark ages, never truly knowing what is happening within a building. By utilizing the power of submetering, building teams are able to add more value to a property and service the building and tenants better.