Photo courtesy of the The U.S. Library of Congress

Since last you likely looked, legacy costs have sunk 60% while capabilities have skyrocketed and connectivity has sublimed.

If you’ve seen TV prices recently, you know that a new era has landed. Dozens of new manufacturers and new technologies mean that you can order on Amazon a TV for $500 that a decade ago would have been hard to explain to anyone with line of sight to your receipt.

The same thing is happening in submeter and hardware technology.

Rapid cost reductions mean that installing your own real time and submeters in the building is more affordable than ever. Long the purview of a small group of traditional electrical manufactures, costs for both CTs and meters have dropped as new entrants have come into the market. How much? For most projects we’re seeing, prices are reduced about 60% from a decade ago. Field data acquisition systems that once cost $4,000 now cost under $2,000. If you had a submetering project rejected due to budget concerns, it is worth a new look. 

The submeter and hardware technology has also vastly improved.

CTs are higher performance (more accurate, less phase shift error), milliamp outputs make them safer to install, and Rogowski coils have made once difficult applications much easier to get on line. Submeters are more flexible; for most applications, there is no risk of installing a CT backwards. Meters are more reliable; it’s less likely needing a second truck roll. And finally, the gateways and networks that link meters are more functional and easier to connect to cloud based applications like Gridium.

Open and standards based please

Specialty building submetering used to follow a razor and blades business model. A vendor would stomach the metering costs, install a proprietary submeter, and then charge you a monthly service fee. That might have made sense in the days of high costs, but with today’s costs, why not own the equipment outright and send your data to your vendor of choice? Most gateways have the option of exporting to multiple internal and external systems.

This is especially important when investing in submeter systems. It’s rare that a building will have budget or time to meter every desired point. What matters is investing in your own metering system that you can add to as appropriate and allowable over time. And improvements in wireless mesh networks mean you should think twice before anyone digs a trench or runs conduit for cables.

Business drivers for submeter data

Gridium customers know that in many utilities, day behind interval data from the utility is more than enough to underpin an energy management program. But sometimes, in larger facilities, submeters can help you go deeper, to manage down to the equipment level or to a particular building in a campus environment.

Going deeper with submeters also means going real time, as most architectures send data home to applications like Gridium every fifteen minutes. That can be very helpful if you’re tackling demand management problems, or if you want to see the results of operational changes in real time.

Real estate businesses also benefit greatly from submeters ability to apportion load and costs to tenants. Generally, the more you isolate the building from energy costs, the lower the volatility of income, and therefore the higher the valuation. Submetering can also help isolate expenses for that crazy coworking tenant with long operating hours, and keep costs low for future leases. New meters can be read automatically, meaning low labor costs and the end of tiresome and error-prone meter log spreadsheets. Although nascent, there appears to be momentum for tenant sustainability programs based on submeter data.

Integration with Gridium

Gridium’s software platform can connect to real time gas and electric data for your existing submeters. We also work with clients to design and coordinate the installation of their own metering systems. We can even connect to data from external systems such as energy storage charge and discharge data.

With Gridium, the beauty is being able to see submeter data in context with utility data.

This chiller is on a dedicated utility service, and having a customer owned submeter provides real-time visibility.

Imagine being able to answer, with the click of a button, questions like:

  • Which building is setting my campus peak demand? Could we stage that differently to lower expenses?
  • Which tenant was responsible for the increase in baseload last month?
  • Gridium forecasts a peak demand day today. What is the demand right now?
  • Thanks to the green lease clause, we paid for the LED lights in Suite 400. Can you pull up their savings, they’d like to put in in their sustainability report.

This all gets us excited. Unlike razors, you can use your system with any blades you like and we’re confident your team will choose Gridium.

About Tom Arnold

Tom Arnold is co-founder and CEO of Gridium. Prior to Gridium, Tom Arnold was the Vice President of Energy Efficiency at EnerNOC, and cofounder at TerraPass. Tom has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. When he isn't thinking about the future of buildings, he enjoys riding his bike and chasing after his two daughters.

One Response

  1. Greg Zickovich

    Gridium,
    Can you send me technical data sheets on your system. From metering to data collection points and dashboard monitoring.

    Respectfully,

    Greg Zickovich
    gregz@obryantelectric.com

Comments are closed

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