Utility Submetering  FAQs, Benefits & Basics

Demand for utility submetering in commercial buildings is on the rise because of the benefits for property managers, building owners and tenants. If you are new to submetering, these FAQs may answer some questions about what submetering is, who it is for and the benefits it provides..

What do we mean by submetering?

Any meter installed after the main utility meter(s). Submeters allow property managers the ability to measure utility consumption in individual spaces, departments, common areas, equipment or other key loads.  Submetering provides accurate data on when and how utilities –  electricity, water, thermal energy and gas  – are being consumed. Accurate consumption data from revenue grade utility meters allows property managers to bill tenants for their consumption.

Ten (+1) key benefits of submetering

  1. Tenant billing for cost recovery
  2. Reduce wastage of utilities
  3. Easier allocations for shared services
  4. Energy management of key loads or circuit-level loads
  5. Track & optimize energy usage with real-time reporting
  6. Identify improper system operation and avoid failure
  7. Measurement & Verification delivers detailed performance reporting
  8. Access to potential demand response & dynamic pricing programs
  9. Maximize building value
  10. More efficient building management
  11. Proven ROI

What kind of buildings are best suited to submetering?

Any building:  shopping malls, office towers, multi-tenant mixed-use  properties, multi-family, institutional, hospitals, and  schools are just some of the kinds of buildings that would benefit from submetering.

Demand for submetering in commercial, institutional and  multi-residential properties is rising – why?

  • Better performing buildings; ROI and sustainability
  • Corporate responsibility for sustainable building operations
  • Ever increasing utility costs
  • Increase in extraordinary loads (data centres, 24/7 Operations)
  • Certification: LEED, BOMA BESt, GRESB, REALpac, ISO40001
  • Tenants wanting greener buildings
  • Proven results from submetering
  • Continually decreasing costs of meter hardware and software
  • Regulations

How to build a successful submetering system?

  • Include all users/stakeholders in design
  • Ensure equipment is certified; meets required standards
  • Include all 3 submetering system levels (hardware, communications and software)
  • Open protocols and non-proprietary equipment for flexibility & best  system solution
  • Verification and training
  • Use the data for energy management and/or billing to provide a financial incentive

What are the expected savings from submetering?

From the CBRE Global Insights Real Estate Building Management Occupant Study:

  • Metered buildings generated an average 21% savings for high ENERGY START buildings
  • Separate metering has more impact on energy savings (21% savings) than almost any other factor

Similar Studies by the US Real Estate Board, Ontario Government, and State of New York find 18-25% energy savings with sub-metering

Are there best practices for a submetering software and reporting system?

  • Accessible to all required users and stakeholders
  • Relevant reporting for all users
  • Data should be provided in a standardized, open protocol
  • Data must be traceable back to meter or other device
  • Training for users
  • Most importantly, bill users for consumption

What are some of the questions that help customize the meter system to meet the needs of its end users?

  • Are you billing tenants with meter data?
  • For energy management, what meter information do you require?
  • Do you need real-time information to take immediate actions?
  • Who will be using the data: operators, accounting, consultants, tenants?
  • How do you want them to access the data?
  • Do you need tenant or visitor interfaces?
  • How much do you want to spend?

Need help with submetering or have questions about your submetering system?

QMC can help. We lead the industry supplying intelligent submetering solutions for utility use optimization, tenant billing, and LEED certification in commercial, industrial and institutional buildings across Canada. QMC supplies top quality electricity, water, thermal energy & gas meters, automation equipment & EMIS software backed by expert system design, project management, support and training.  QMC’s project–specific, custom submeter solutions help conserve energy and save money for building operators and tenants.

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