Energy retrofits in buildings and the impacts of smart submeters

In the new real estate arena, green energy retrofitting is the most significant activity going on today. During the current downturn, the slow pace of new builts has given energy retrofits a great boost keeping the real estate industry afloat while maintaining employment for thousands of people. Considering new builts represent only 3% of the building stock in Europe, existing buildings offer a great opportunity to owners and investors for an emerging state of play. The active involvement of the public sector in the green development will further enhance the economic activity of such projects.

 

Energy retrofits characteristics

Energy retrofits of an existing commercial asset could be the installation of new heating, ventilating and airconditioning components, mounting solar panels on a roof or even installing a shading system outside the building. Driving energy consumption and environmental impacts down while profiting from reduced energy bills is a no-brainer. Today’s leading building owners are retrofitting buildings, converting existing buildings into models of sustainability. While most building owners still pursue single technology improvements, market leaders bundle together energy saving technologies to get deeper savings in a more comprehensive approach. Energy performance contracting is a business model that enables building owners to implement energy retrofits and lower energy consumption and operating costs. Essentially, the upgrades are paid through energy savings over time.

True energy retrofits require fact-based, benchmarked, quantitatively oriented, energy-efficiency interventions with a clear payback analysis. Smart submeters play an important role in facilitating the in-depth analysis required by owners and investors to proceed with building energy retrofits. Submeters are the foundation of every energy management program. Although electricity submeters don’t save energy by themselves, they provide energy managers and building operators with the information they need to identify opportunities for savings. A wireless submeter can be installed in various electrical panels throughout the building to give a detailed picture of where the electricity is being used. Details from energy monitoring before and after a retrofit has been implemented provide a clear picture of the impact a particular intervention have had in the electricity consumption pattern. Measurement & Verification (M&V) plans justify the readings and correlate them with real savings. A quantitative approach is achieved.

 

Smart submeters for energy retrofits management

Some of the important smart submeter benefits to energy retrofits for building owners, investors and operators are as follows:

- Access of information from anywhere,  anytime

- Aggregation of energy consumption/analytical measurements

- Advanced intelligent reporting including regression modelling, auditing, data heat maps, load profiling and model baselines

- Well-informed investment decisions

- Energy usage optimisation

- Systems control

Following a building's energy retrofitting activity, in-depth energy and ROI analysis is achieved by incorporating an adequate array of meters to cover all those areas the intervention is affecting. Electricity submeters must possess certain characteristics in order to reach the maximum efficiency impacts. One of the most important of those characteristics is size. Available space within electrical panels is often very limited which means that the deployment of a larger number of meters/metering points is largely depended on the size of the meter itself.

Submeters must be designed to open standards so additional equipment, such as sensors and actuators, can be integrated into the metering system at any time. Closed monolithic systems dictate system expansion only by the same manufacturer under the same protocol which makes further integration a stringent and often an expensive process. The total cost of ownership (TCO) is also a major factor when selecting metering equipment for building energy retrofit projects. Traditional metering equipment is usually expensive limiting the number of metering points to only the absolute necessary required for the
Measurement & Verification plan to work.

Last but not least is the commissioning procedure. Ease of commissioning will reduce man working hours (thus additional costs) and minimise interruption of connected systems. Interrupting working staff also needs to be avoided. Nuisance of occupants during installations never comes welcomed. Wireless, plug 'n' play metering equipment will avoid such issues from happening. Wireless meters will further reduce installation costs by avoiding costly wiring interconnections and additional installation equipment.

Electricity submeters are important for well planned building energy retrofits. Careful consideration must therefore be paid when designing a metering plan and procuring the related metering equipment. Meazon offers small, intelligent, open architecture submeters to fit every energy management program.

For more information, visit this link to check all our innovative smart metering products.

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