More submetering called for to improve building efficiency in U.S.


Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 11, 2011 – Submetering of energy and water usage should be viewed as an essential component of future commercial and residential building operational improvements for energy efficiency and conservation improvements in the U.S., according to a new government report.

The report, Submetering of Building Energy and Water Usage, from the Buildings Technology Research and Development Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), recommends that as part of overall building design and retrofit projects, building owners should evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of submetering using life cycle cost analysis for the economic justification and business case development.

Further, when evaluating submetering opportunities, design teams should collaborate with the building owners, operators, and occupants, and design, engineering, and information technology professionals to identify data needs and appropriate submetering systems and configurations.

In the U.S., commercial and residential buildings account for more than 40 percent of the total energy consumption, including 72 percent of electricity use – and globally if the current trends continue, these will be the largest consumer of global energy by 2025. In addition buildings consume vast amounts of water and material resources.

Submetering – the practice of measuring energy or water consumption at points downstream from the primary utility meter – allows building owners to monitor energy or water usage for individual tenants, departments, pieces of equipment or other loads to account for their specific usage. With submetering technologies building owners are enabled to optimize design and retrofit strategies so that energy and water management procedures are more efficient and effective.

The report recommends that submetering systems should be operated as production quality building management systems with high levels of reliability, information assurance and security, established data acquisition and archival procedures, and periodic system maintenance requirements.

When possible, the submetering system should be integrated into the building automation system and used to identify building system impairments or dysfunction, to improve operational procedures, drive behavioral changes that improve building energy efficiency and conservation, and augment building side automation systems that interface with the smart grid.

Submetering information and feedback mechanisms also should be tailored to intended users to effect operational and behavioral change in building operators and occupants, with information and feedback of an appropriate form and frequency.

The report notes that while the return on investment (ROI) for submeters depends on specific energy efficiency strategies that may vary by climate, building type, and other factors, “numerous case studies provide evidence that the ROI can be significant.”