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Monitoring energy improves profitability.

Given the currently weak occupancy levels in real estate, building managers and owners must devote attention to retaining a high volume of tenants within their buildings.

An energy management program, which helps tenants get the most out of their electrical usage and reduce electric bills, can help owners uphold occupancy levels and attract new tenants.

Building owners can initiate a simple energy management program through gathering precise information on electrical consumption and by investing in electronic submetering. Submeters reveal where and exactly how much electricity is being consumed. They measured and monitor electrical consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and demand in kilowatts (kW) for any building or building area. Among the major benefits to the building owner are equitable billing of tenants, and the development of an energy management program to reduce energy costs.

Benefits to the Building Owner

* Equitable and convenient billing: Submeters provide more concise monthly readings of electrical consumption than the standard utility meter by measuring the exact energy consumption of individual rooms or various areas of any building. Such comprehensive information permits the building owner to accurately determine electricity charges to tenants. Submetering is more precise than the common system of billing by estimating electrical usage per square foot, resulting in less confusion and concern of being overcharged. * Maintaining and increasing occupancy levels: The data can be easily read from the submeter, thus avoiding tenant billing hassles. With clearer information supplied to the tenant, the building owners will be able to retain occupancy levels while developing a positive image, which attracts new occupants.

* Avoiding utility demand charges Submeters can profile demand and record demand peaks. From this information, the building owner can minimize energy costs by avoiding high demand charges from the utility. Submeters can for example, highlight energy efficiency opportunities, demand "shedding" or "rolling" potential, and similar cost-saving measures.

Implementing an energy management program: With the data collected from a submeter, building owners and managers can monitor the exact electrical consumption of any building space. This would reveal the cost benefits of installing, for example, an energy-efficient lighting system, more-efficient electric motors or adjustable frequency drives running the HVAC or other building system. The information supplied by submeters can justify any trial installation or project involving energy-efficient upgrades aimed at reducing the buildings energy consumption.

The Advantage of Electronic Submeters

Electronic submeters are more technologically advanced than the glass-encased or electromechanical submeters of the past. Electronic submeters have the following advantages: * Compact design: The physical structure of an electronic submeter is conducive to the building owners needs. An electronic submeter can be as small as six inches high, four inches wide and three inches deep -- approximately one-tenth the size of a standard electromechanical submeter. Electronic submeters can also be conveniently grouped with up to 25 submeters fitting into a cabinet as small as 30 inches high, 24 inches wide and six inches deep. * Convenient installation: Installing electromechanical submeters requires powering down in order to splice the live wires and pass them through mounted units for the submeter. Electronic submeters with split-core current sensors, on the other hand, avoid down time and money lost by powering down. The unique current sensors attach to conductor lines without cutting in. As a result, the installation time is significantly shorter -- approximately one half-four compared to about four hours for a typical electromechanical submeter. * Lower cost: Cost differences between the two submeter types is enough to explain the preference for the electronic version. The electronic submeter's installed cost starts at about $600, while electromechanical submeters can cost twice as much. * Clear readouts: Some electromagnetic submeters use multiple concentric, rotating dials for reading the energy usage. These are much more confusing to read than the clear, digital readouts found with certain electronic submeters. Some electronic submeters also feature a convenient reset button. This benefits the building owner by helping further eliminate confusion when reading month-to-month energy use.

Monitoring Enhancements and Additional Options

Common monitoring enhancements, such as computer interfaces, pulsers, high resolution digital-to-analog outputs and panel-mounted demand annunciation modules, can be easily added or removed from various electronic submeters. Other meters require purchasing an entirely new meter to incorporate new features and upgrades.

The most basic electronic submeter will measure energy consumption in kWh. Submeters can also display energy demand in kW. To gain more comprehensive information, building owners and managers can utilize a system with computer compatibility for automatic meter reading. This option consist of a modular connector for interfacing with exterior energy management systems or to an internal, non-dedicated computer. The system is capable of reading one meter or a gang of submeters within a building. This saves time from manually recording the data. These software packages can read peak, intermediate and off-peak periods of energy consumption and graph demand at intervals as short as five-minute sampling rates.

Better Opportunities for Energy Management

Submetering stands our as a profitable energy management technique allowing for the equitable billing of tenants while helping the building owner retain high occupancy levels. Installing electronic submeters will not disturb the everyday activity of any area in a building and can be structured to fit within a very confined space.

Building owners need to realize that submeters are not merely data collectors, but instruments that help cut wasteful electrical consumption. With the more concise records supplied by an electronic submeter, building owners can improve their property values, marketability and tenant relations.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Building Management & Maintenance; advise for commercial building owners and managers
Author:Bovankovich, David
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 6, 1993
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