HVAC Breaking News

June 21, 2013: Federal and Industry Partners Issue Sub-Meter Challenge

Building Sector Says: If You Can Build Cost-Efficient Units, We Will Buy Them

WASHINGTON — A coalition that includes the United States federal government and over 200 major commercial building sector partners has issued a challenge to U.S. manufacturers: if you can build wireless sub-meters that cost less than $100 apiece and enable us to identify opportunities to save money by saving energy, we will buy them. A group of at least 18 manufacturers has already agreed to take up the challenge, pledging to produce devices that will meet the specifications outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its private sector partners that have signed letters of intent to purchase the wireless sub-meters.

“This is a perfect example of how government can team up with industry to identify a problem and promote the innovation needed to solve it,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Affordable, accurate sub-metering of electricity use will give building managers the critical information they need to find and eliminate waste that hurts their businesses and costs billions of dollars a year. Even a small improvement in efficiency will mean huge savings for companies as well as for taxpayers.”

Electricity sub-meters don’t save energy by themselves, but they provide building operators with the information they need to identify opportunities for savings. For example, a large commercial building might pay $10,000 a month or more for electricity, but not have any way to detect which systems are consuming the most electricity. A wireless sub-meter could be installed at various electrical panels throughout the building to give a more detailed picture of where the electricity is being used, helping to identify savings. It might also allow commercial building operators (at a strip mall, for example) to bill individual tenants for their electricity usage, creating an incentive for energy efficiency. Wireless sub-meters are available today, but typically cost about $1,000 per installation, so the goal is to reduce the cost by about 90 percent.

DOE worked with members of its Better Buildings Alliance and federal agencies to develop a performance-based manufacturing specification. The specification recommends minimum performance requirements for one or more multiple wireless measurement devices, or sub-meters. The metering system addresses energy consumption, measuring and monitoring granular electric energy consumption data at the panel-level to support the implementation of energy efficiency improvements. DOE’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, the James A. Forrestal Building, will be used as a testing facility. Energy data will be collected from within the facility’s eight occupied floors, basements, and 1,754,800 square feet of floor space.

Nationwide, DOE estimates that if commercial buildings could utilize sub-meters to identify energy savings of just 2 percent, it would represent cost savings of $1.7 billion.

Publication date: 6/17/2013

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