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System Impacts

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Resources Impact

Using the data from submetering systems to better manage building operations and maintenance can have a significant impact on a building’s overall resource use. The value that submeters provide is found in the range of potential resource savings that are gained by making informed decisions and the subsequent actions that are taken based on metered data.

Resource Use

Submetering by itself does not reduce resource use, greenhouse gases, or costs. In fact, installing and monitoring submetering technologies will require resources. However, well-designed submetering programs generate data that can guide management strategies, operational and investment decisions, and tenant interactions that ultimately can be used for significant resource-reduction benefits.

Uses of Submetering Data

Submeters are a versatile building technology that can provide diverse resource benefits. Metered data helps to verify utility accuracy, identify energy-consuming loads, and document energy reduction efforts and the accurate allocation of energy costs. The following details common areas for the application of submetering systems found by the National Science and Technology Council. Additional and complementary uses are discussed further in the System Impacts: O&M section.

Enhances building performance by utilizing metered data to recognize system inefficiencies and energy anomalies.

  • Identifies energy-consuming loads
  • Enables remote monitoring of usage and conditions

Resource audits based on metered data help to determine the value of making investments in system retrofits and replacements to improve a building's overall performance.

  • Extends the useful life of an asset through optimized utilization
  • Reduces operational inefficiencies

Influencing occupant energy-use behavior through resource use awareness and conservation programs will help to reduce excessive energy consumption.

  • Documents energy reduction efforts
  • Reduces energy waste through occupant feedback

Since utility bills are calculated by both the overall use of energy and peak power demand prices, demand response helps to reduce resource consumption at a time that will assist the utility (avoid brown outs), reduce consumption during on-peak time of use energy rates, or for other forms of demand shedding.

  • Develops utility rate comparison to identify the most cost effective rate structure
  • Reduces customer service charges
  • Verifies utility accuracy
  • Contributes to green building certification
  • Establishes a facility’s historical baseline
  • Supports accurate allocation of energy costs

Environmental Impact

Submeters help to account for actual resource usage by providing detailed facility data. This data can be used to inform sustainability and efficiency strategies. Achieving sustainability goals reduces capital investment and operating costs, and potentially significantly decreases resource use and a building’s overall environmental footprint while improving occupant comfort.

Submetering systems help to improve resource efficiency and conservation practices in a building, which can be used to improve indoor environmental quality factors. These factors include indoor air quality, lighting, and thermal comfort.

Building systems responsible for indoor environmental quality factors including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, can be submetered to monitor system resource use. The real-time identification of inefficiencies can be addressed through prompt O&M actions. Submeter data can also be combined with automated building systems such as daylighting control systems, which help to save money and improve indoor light satisfaction for occupants.

For more information on Indoor Environmental Quality, click here.

Energy efficiency projects, resource management strategies, and energy benchmarking all have two things in common.

1. well-executed programs help to reduce resource use, thereby reducing emissions.

2. these programs require reliable and accurately measured data.

Submeters are integral to these two strategies, making their indirect impact on emissions important to remember and consider while implementing and maintaining a submeter program.

Best Practices and Strategies

Start by focusing on targeted or high-use consumption areas, such as chiller plants, PV and renewable energy systems, detailed plug-load level, and tenants. When submetering across systems, focus on consolidating and standardizing data in one place or platform. Consider choosing and sizing submetering equipment based on actual design loads instead of switch gear outputs.
Define metering and stakeholder objectives and how the data generated will be used to meet those objectives. When it comes to procuring a metering system, resist the urge to ‘over-buy’ and focus on the specific metering equipment needed to accomplish your building resource objectives.