Submeter Your Energy Maintenance!

Submeter Your Energy Maintenance!

Every facility should include energy management. Maintenance services that focus on energy management will recommend that you get granular with your energy data. This can be difficult when the best source for data (the utility bill) is often extremely general regarding your facility’s energy consumption.

So what is the best way to get granular?  Survey says, “Submeter your energy sources!”  Sub metering allows facility managers to isolate energy consumption by sources (e.g., plug loads, HVAC, lighting) and by users (e.g., tenants, departments etc.) to better track and bill for the consumption.

So what is Submetering?

Submetering is installation of additional metering devices to measure energy consumption after the main utility meter.

The benefits are numerous:

  • Eliminates inaccurate estimates
  • Improved, more accurate billing
  • Promotes energy savings
  • Concise energy management
  • Ease of use and installation
  • Compliance with green requirements
  • Improve facility handyman service collaboration

Despite the benefits, I saw a recent survey in Building Operating Management that showed only one-third of facility managers use submeters widely and another third do not use them at all. This makes submetering a missed opportunity for facility managers, and the reason for this post. Part of the problem may be that it is more expensive to add a submeter after the facility is constructed.

Top Sources to Submeter

At a minimum, there are three energy consumption sources facility managers should consider adding a submeter to:

  1. Plug loads
  2. Lighting
  3. HVAC systems

1. Plug loads

Plug loads include all electronics in the facility that tap into the building’s plug receptacles (e.g., computers, printers, coffee makers, space heaters etc.) According to Wikipedia, the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), a national sample survey project of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, reported that based on 2003 data, 19% of the total energy of U.S. office buildings is attributed to plug load energy use (office equipment, computers, and other energy use).

2. Lighting Systems

Most energy consumed in a building comes from lighting. I’ve seen estimates indicating that 20% to 50% of total energy consumption comes from lighting use or misuse. Most importantly, for some buildings, over 90 percent of lighting energy consumed can be an unnecessary expense through over-illumination.  The cost of that lighting can be substantial. A single 100 W light bulb used just 6 hours a day can cost over $25 per year to use (.12/kWh).

3. HVAC

HVAC systems are another great source to focus a submeter on. Placing a submeter on your HVAC system can help you determine where spikes occur. Knowing where and when the spikes occur allows facility managers to determine whether the spike was due to a change in the weather or because the HVAC system was operating when it should have been turned off.

There other systems that should be monitored, but these three are the best places to start with a submeter. Adding them to energy handyman services will have the greatest impact in improving your energy management and savings.

Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, salesforce.com deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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