Electric Metering Guidelines for Government Buildings - EC&M Magazine

Electric Metering Guidelines for Government Buildings

EPACT 2005 mandated advanced electric submetering and AMR systems for all federal facilities by 2012 whenever feasible, as determined by cost-effectiveness, payback and other factors. Starting in 2008, agencies are required to report on progress towards their metering installation goals.

Section 103(e) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires all federal agencies to install advanced metering in their facilities by October 1, 2012. This article overviews the highlights of DOE/EE-0312, with an eye to what's in it for the electrical contractor.

Section 5.3 of DOD Instruction 4170.11 notes that the Defense Department occupies over 620,000 buildings on 400 installation in the U.S. alone. According to DOE figures, two-thirds of all federal floor space is occupied by the DOD, raising the possibility that the DOE's own estimate of "over 500,000" total federal buildings is somewhat conservative. Whatever the actual building is, more important to this discussion is the fact that electricity accounted for nearly 75 percent of all federal energy use in 2005-almost five times more than natural gas, the next most-used fuel type. as a point of interest, the cart below compares energy use and facility floor space by government agency.

As the nation's single largest energy user and a significant consumer in many areas of the country, the federal government is keenly aware of the need to not only conserve energy, but to invest in reduction measures that make good business sense while at the same time contributing to operational efficiency and modernization.


Designed to solve growing energy problems by providing tax incentives and loan guarantees for various types of energy production, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) was passed by Congress in July 2005 and signed into law by President Bush a month later. Section 103(e) "Energy Use Measurement and Accountability" amended Section 543 of the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 8253) to read, as regards "Metering of Energy Use":

"By October 1, 2012, in accordance with guidelines established by the Secretary under paragraph (2), all Federal buildings shall, for the purposes of efficient use of energy and reduction in the cost of electricity used in such buildings, be metered. Each agency shall use, to the maximum extent practicable, advanced meters or advanced metering devices that provide data at least daily and that measure at least hourly consumption of electricity in the Federal buildings of the agency. such data shall be incorporated into existing federal energy tracking systems and made available to Federal facility managers."

Other EPACT 2005 sections relative to submetering are 1251 (net metering) and 1331 (support for $1.80 per square foot tax deduction for energy-efficient buildings). Only two years after EPACT, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) raised the bar even higher by requiring that total energy use in federal buildings, relative to 2005 levels, be reduced 30 percent by 2015.In response to EPACT and EISA and other federal energy guidelines, E-Mon and other manufacturers have developed advanced hardware and software tools that specifically address the needs of the sustainability market. Certified to ANSI C12.1 & C 12.16 national accuracy standards, new-generation advanced meters like E-Mon's Green Class meter offers a number of important functions and capabilities for new construction or retrofit applications, including:
  • Scrolling LCD display of kilowatt hour (kWh) usage
  • kWh in dollars
  • Current demand load (kW)
  • Cost per hour, based on current load
  • Estimated CO2 emissions in pounds, based on DOE standard
  • Estimated hourly CO2 emissions based on current load
  • Net metering, including utility-delivered vs. user-received power and net usage
  • Compatibility with pulse-output utility meters, including water, gas, BTU, steam, etc.

FEMP's advocacy role

Because most federal energy management programs are highly decentralized in execution, the responsibility falls to local facility managers to maintain awareness, develop and implement energy projects and ensure that new construction follows sustainable design principles to meet energy goals. Those tasked with implementing these policies locally, however, were not left to meet the challenge alone, thanks to advocacy groups like the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP).

FEMP was created to help promote cost reduction measures that would lessen the environmental impact of the federal government by advancing energy efficiency and water conservation, promote the use of distributed and renewable energy and improve utility management decisions at federal sites. As part of this process, FEMP, in conjunction with the Alliance to Save Energy, Edison Electric Institute, the Electric Power Research Institute and other stakeholders, sponsored a number of advanced metering workshops that incorporated the input of diverse user groups, including federal energy managers, national laboratories and representatives of the metering, utility and energy services/efficiency markets.

Held in various locations around the country, these seminal metering workshops framed the language to help agencies understand and comply with the emerging federal guidelines. Several meetings in the 2003-2005 timeframe, for example, helped finalize the metering guidelines published on February 3, 2006 as DOE/EE-0312, "Guidance for Electric Metering in Federal buildings."

Electric Metering

As the name of this document suggests, DOE/EE-0312 was not intended to be a mandatory policy guideline, but to provide federal facility managers with a useful set of "serving suggestions" to help them design their own procedures and programs for complying with EPACT 2005, through consideration of:
  • Defining "advanced metering"
  • Uses of metered data
  • Metering approaches and technologies
  • Metering cost-effectiveness
  • Methods for prioritizing buildings for metering applications
  • Methods of financing
  • Template for an agency metering plan
  • Performance measures
  • Special considerations

The 22-page document's executive summary states up front that Section 103 of PEACT pertains to electric metering only and further defines what is meant by such terms as "buildings" and "maximum extent practicable." Implementation timelines are also given. Additionally, the document provides useful appendices, including (1) a glossary of advanced metering terms and (2) the full text of Section 103; Energy Use Measurement and Accountability of EPACT's Federal Metering Requirements. Available at no charge, readers are encouraged to download DOE/EE-0312 for detailed information relative to the following document sections:

Defining "advanced Metering"

Advanced meters provide interval data recording, or the ability to measure electrical loads at specific time intervals, and communications to remote locations in formats compatible with automatic meter reading (AMR) systems, also defined in this section. Advanced meters provide 15- or 30-minute interval data recording used in many applications, however, the language in EPACT Section 103 only requires collecting hourly interval data and reporting it every 24 hours (see Special considerations section.)

This section also defines standard meters as "electromechanical or solid-state meters that cumulatively measure, record and store aggregated kWh data that is periodically retrieved for use in customer billing or energy management." Also presented are recommendations for the application, installation and operation of a metering program, including identifying objectives, system design, commissioning and more.

Uses of metered data. When converted to useful information through energy analysis software, meter data benefits users by allowing them to reduce operating costs through optimized building and equipment performance. This section briefly touches on applications, including revenue billing, time-of-use (TOU) metering, real-time pricing, load aggregation, submetering, energy-sue diagnostics, power quality, measurement and verification (M&V) of energy savings performance contracts (ESPC), emergency (demand) response, and planning and reporting.

Metering approaches and technologies. This section does not discuss metering at the end-use or circuit level-the job of submeters-but is centered on whole-building utility metering. The point is made that metering per se does not save cost; the savings come when the meter data is converted to information that can be used to develop energy management projects and programs. Levels of resource metering include one-time spot measurements, run-time measurements and short- and long-term monitoring. Also briefly overviewed are metering system components, data storage, and the ways in which metered data can be collected and communicated-from manual "sneaker reads" to wireless and other commonly used methods.

Metering cost-effectiveness. EPACT Section 103's language, "to the maximum extent practicable," defines metering applications in terms of cost-effectiveness, based on the comparison of installed and operational costs versus the resulting energy savings in dollars. This section explores the various components for evaluating cost effectiveness, including a table of metering savings ranges that estimates savings per application type. A formula for calculating energy savings is also provided, concluding that it is probably cost effective, considering the variables, to meter any building with an annual electric bill over $40,999 to achieve a 10-year simple payback. A number of cost-justification scenarios are provided as examples.

Methods for prioritizing buildings for metering applications.

Cost effectiveness drives the viability of the metering project. Prime considerations include the amount and cost of electricity (consumption and demand) and the expected benefits from the metering plan. Potential exclusions resulting in non-cost effective metering includes small buildings, leased facilities and low energy intensity buildings. It makes sense for the user to revisit the plan occasionally to allow for changes in technology, rates and other variables.

Methods of financing.

This section provides a tabular listing and summary of potential funding mechanisms available to federal sites desiring to buy and install metering equipment and systems. Some examples include appropriations, retained energy savings, energy service performance contracts (ESPC), utility energy service contracts (UESC), utility company financing, O&M performance incentives, metering equipment leasing and other options.

Template for an agency metering plan.

EPACT requires each federal agency to develop a metering plan and submit it to DOE/FEMP no later than August 3, 2006 for implementation by the end of FY 2012. Key sections of the metering plan template include setting goals, defining the metering program structure, including equipment needs and methodology; setting cost/benefit criteria, prioritizing opportunities and developing performance measures.

Performance measurement.

This section outlines the reporting timelines that agencies must follow to comply with metering installation by the 2012 end date. The metering plan was due by the end of FY 2006, with every subsequent year's report requiring the cumulative number of buildings metered and the percentage of electricity used by those buildings. Starting in FY 2008, report must also be broken out by standard and advanced meters.

Special considerations.

This section lists many site-specific factors impacting the development and implementation of metering systems, including leased vs. owned or delegated properties, Operations & Maintenance (O&M) contractors, new vs. existing construction and other considerations. More frequent interval data than the 60-minute EPACT requirement provides a greater degree of data analysis capability and is therefore recommended. Analysis is also recommended to determine when existing standard meters should be retrofitted with advanced metering systems. The point is also made that advance metering should be considered "as far down into the subsystem level as practicable."

Benefits for contractors

In a word: sales. Getting smart on DOE/EE-0312 and federal energy policies can translate to sales opportunities for the contractor, whose customer may not be fully up to speed on what he needs, why or how to implement it. Although the metering plans for federal facilities were supposed to have been submitted two years ago, the installation phase will continue through the end of FY 2012. DOE/EE-0312 guidelines also provide an excellent road map for commercial buildings, industrial plants, multi-tenant residences and other facilities that can benefit from increased energy awareness and compliance with energy initiatives that, in many jurisdictions, offer tax breaks and other incentives for lowering facility operating costs.

The electrical contractor is poised to benefit from EPACT, EISA and other public and private-sector energy management policies designed to extract maximum energy performance from today's buildings. In today's facility environment, the old energy adage, "You can't manage what you don't measure," is good news for the contractor, who is typically the go-to guy for recommending and installing the needed equipment.

To download a copy of this article click here.

To download a copy of the Government Document "Guidance for Electric Metering in Federal Buildings" click here.