Strategic energy data management in buildings

Strategic energy data management in buildings

As society strides towards a net zero future, there are many critical factors to consider in successfully achieving that goal, one of which is energy management. The various strategies, benefits, and challenges were discussed in a recent panel webinar hosted by The Climate Challenge Network, with Frank Cammalleri, VP Engineering at Enerlife Consulting as the moderator.

BEST PRACTICES FOR ENERGY MANAGEMENT

When undergoing the process of investigating various energy management tactics, the first step is to assess the building’s operational excellence through energy retrofits, renovations and expansions, and end-of-life replacements. Monitoring energy efficiency includes managing monthly utility data, interval meter data, submeter data, and BAS trends, all applicable through integrated metering solutions. Interval data is critical for building operators to understand and assess their building performance for energy-efficient operations.

Interval data can be collected for all utility types: water, electricity, gas, and heating and cooling. However, collecting natural gas interval data poses more challenges as very few options are offered by utilities. 

Mike Easton, Chief Revenue Officer at QMC, discusses options available if a more hands-on approach is needed in terms of upgrades:

“If you’re in a jurisdiction that doesn’t allow natural gas meters to be upgraded, go with a redundant meter like an insertion meter on a larger load as they’re fairly accurate and easy to install,” says Easton. He notes that they’re not a revenue installation but offer a good balance between cost and accuracy. It’s important to ensure you have the right policies and expertise available for these meters, even if there isn’t an upgrade to install. 

A crucial aspect of installing submetering in buildings is understanding the use case of each installation. “If the meter is going to be used in a billing application, it needs to be Measurement Canada approved as Measurement Canada regulates natural gas in Canada,” states Easton. 

Energy management meters, or check meters, on the other hand, offer a lot more options including insertion meters, clamp-on meters, and redundant inline meters. When sizing out these meters based on your building’s needs, it’s important to know the pressure of the load, the BTU load, and pipe size so the vendor can provide accurate pricing. 

There are proven benefits to using submeters to provide interval data, as Amanda Martin, Corporate Energy Manager, at City of Markham discusses. Martin affirms that using such data is “useful for troubleshooting and researching different ways to save energy, tracking performance, and loads.” She also speaks on their ability to identify loads that were using up more energy than needed, such as overnight usage, which in turn leads to greater energy savings. 

STRATEGIC SUBMETERING OF KEY LOADS TO START

The strategic installation of submeters is a great place to start understanding energy management within a building. Property managers, building owners, and institutions can accurately measure and manage utility consumption in key load areas of a building for additional cost and energy savings. 

Junaid Saleem Khan, Supervisor of Energy Management of the City of Brampton, shares his positive experience in installing submeters within the Terry Miller Recreation Centre, which allowed the ice rink to reach its net zero goals. Submeters were pivotal in managing the electrical consumption of the rink in a few ways: through the verification of energy conservation measures, assisting in predictive maintenance of city assets, simplifying load isolation and establishing and maintaining a baseline for proper measurement. 

As evidenced by Junaid, selectively submetering key loads makes financial sense, especially if you’re just starting off! Implementing the right submetering solution for your property is critical to understand what makes sense for your facility. Martin offers some advice on setting up submetering in your facility, including “developing an implementation plan with a solid business case for target facilities, creating a standardized scope of how long data is stored and at what frequency, and engaging IT as early as possible.” 

Understanding this can inform you of what equipment has the highest and lowest energy use. Knowing the highest contributor is very important in energy management allocation efforts. 

Net zero future

The journey to net zero starts with energy management, and institutions such as community centres, school boards, government buildings are closer to reaching that goal by submetering their key loads. This strategy provides insight into what the building is using energy on, fulfills federal mandates to achieve net zero by a given year, and can pay dividends and ROI within months if not a year.

Ensure your building is on the right path for energy efficiency and financial savings by contacting us today.

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