Essex Realty

Essex Realty - Santa Ana, CA

Since becoming responsible for their own electricity through submetering, the business park's tenants have become much more proactive in conserving energy and cutting costs.

Until fall 2006, the 28 firms occupying this modern Southern California business park were billed for utilities according to the typical industry cost-per-square-foot standard. However, because of the inherent inaccuracy of ratio-based formulas, Irvine, CA-based Essex Realty Management, Inc. decided to profile each unit's electrical consumption (kWh) and demand (kW) for the purpose of allocating true costs to each user and encouraging energy conservation among tenants. To that end, the property management company tasked Anderson & Howard (A&H), one of the area's leading contracting firms, with installing an electrical submetering system to do just that.

According to Ben Richey, A&H operations manager for electrical and communications services, the six-month project consisted of several phases, beginning with a full electrical survey of all branch circuitry and power distribution. "This was followed by the installation of a new dedicated subpanel for each unit in the business park," he said. Multiple Meter Units (MMU) containing 30 E-Mon D-Mon electric submeters (120/208-240V, 3 Phase) were installed to capture load profiles. Since the first meter installation, there have been several system upgrades to bring even more meters online to recover additional overhead costs.

The kWh/kW data for each owner-occupied space is being collected every 15 minutes, 24/7, in each MMU's Interval Data Recorder (IDR). A POTS telephone line connects the modem, where a third-party meter reading service collects and reports the data back to the property manager who then generates a monthly utility bill for each unit. 'The submetering system has been just great," said Beth Reed, Assistant Property Manager for Essex Realty. "We have not had a problem with the equipment at all." In operation, the property manager's only real challenge has been to keep certain personnel from trying to find ways to lower their readings by tampering with the equipment. This however was unsuccessful due to the meters' built-in protection circuitry and also by the fact the meter room is now secured against unauthorized access.

The presence of submeters provides information that helps owner businesses, including a cafe, engineering firm, land developer and realtor, become more aware of and accountable for their energy consumption. Reed reports that the owners have proactively taken steps to reduce their energy usage and cost by installing programmable thermostats on HVAC equipment, turning off lights, unplugging equipment not in use and making sure that everything is off for the weekend, among other energy conservation measures.

In operation for almost three years at this location, the electric submetering system has proven itself a valued partner for helping Essex Realty Management do what it does best-provide a very high level of service and attention to its property management and facilities maintenance clientele with the capability of profiling individual electrical usage, of cutting operating costs and ensuring the highest possible degree of client satisfaction through fair and accurate billing practices.

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