Submeters: How Green Contractors Can Go Beyond Lighting
Electric submeters and automatic meter readin (AMR) software provide a total energy profile that can help building owners and operators shave significant dollars off their operating budgets-while also providing a profitable revenue stream for the installing contractor.
Getting smart about green buildings is one way that contractors can differentiate themselves from the other guy, increase sales, and add real value for their customers. As word gets out that a contractor is "green savvy," that firm becomes the "go-to-guy" for green building advice and new equipment installations.
Retrofitting energy efficient T8 lighting, for example, is a natural entry point. but where do you go from there? how about recommending submeters for extra points towards LEED facility rating or energy credit-which makes sense for the end-user and dollars for you, the contractor.
What Submeters Do
As meters with monitoring capability, submeters are installed on the "facility side" of the master utility meter to track the energy consumption (kWh) and demand (kW) of specific departments, tenants or items of equipment all the way down to a single circuit.
As a highly accurate and scalable way to gauge actual power consumption, electric submeters offer an extremely cost-effective way to fairly and accurately determine energy use with a level of granularity unmatched by the master utility meter at the main electrical service.
Typical applications include:
- Usage analysis and peak demand identification
- Time-of-use metering of electricity, gas, water, steam, BTUs and other energy sources
- Cost allocation for tenant billing
- Measurement, verification and benchmarking for energy initiatives, including LED Energy & Atomosphere (EA) and Water Efficiency (WE) credits
- Load comparisons
- Threshold alarming and notification
- Multi-site load aggregation and real-time historical monitoring of energy consumption patterns for negotiating lower energy rates
LEED Points & Submetering
Green Meters for Green Ratings
It is common knowledge that the "green" facilities cut costs by operating more efficiently. that's why E-Mon and other suppliers designed advanced, "green friendly" hardware and software tools to specifically meet today's "sustainable facility" needs by providing:
- Scrolling LCD display of kilowatt hour (kWh) usage
- kWh display in dollars
- Current demand load (kW)
- Cost per hour, based on current load
- Estimated carbon dioxide emissions in pounds, based on DOE standards
- Estimated hourly CO2 emissions based on current load
- Net metering, including utility delivered vs. user received power and net usage
At the enterprise level, submeters can help property managers monitor and control energy costs as participants in conservation programs line demand response (offered by many utilities) and the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.
Submeters can also help facilities personnel measure and verify compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) in sections 103 (meter mandate), 1251 (net metering) and 1331 ($1.80/sq ft tax credit.)
Submeters contribute directly toward points under several LEED green building certifications (see table above). Any energy initiative that requires measurement and verification of program guidelines-and they all do-is a good chance for a contractor to start a discussion about submetering.
The Bottom Line
The public and private-sector facility landscape is changing rapidly, driven by economic challenges and the need to save energy and cut operating costs. Savvy contractors will see in the bewildering array of new energy initiatives opportunities for selling and installing the equipment that will help their customers meet the new requirements.
Submeters are a perfect example of core equipment needed for the application. The old adage "you can't manage what you don't measure" is even more applicable in today's energy conscious facility environment. what's more, that old adage is an extremely effective door-opener for any submetering sales pitch to your valued customers.
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