GN4.4: Advanced metering

Guidance Note Purpose

The purpose of this Guidance Note is to provide asset managers, property managers and facilities managers with information about advanced metering and how it can be used for billing and for monitoring and analysing utilities performance in buildings. 

This Guidance Note has been prepared primarily in relation to energy.  However, the principles covered can also be adopted to inform advanced metering with respect to other utilities. 

Context 

Advanced metering enables meters to be read remotely, automatically and at frequent intervals.  Such meters are also often termed automatic meter reading (AMR) meters.  Consumption data is collected and used for either billing or analysis for management purposes. 

Advanced meters collect and send half-hourly consumption data, for example, the use of electricity, gas, water, heat and generation from on-site low and zero carbon technologies, such as photovoltaic panels. Data is communicated via phone lines, SMS messaging and, increasingly, by wireless technologies with a storage facility.   

Advanced metering can be fitted as a main meter (also referred to as ‘fiscal’) or a sub-meter. 

Advanced main utility meters: 

Advanced main utility meters allow a utility company to remotely access utilities consumption data.  As readings are typically recorded on a half-hourly basis, this provides more accurate and ‘up to date’ usage data compared to monthly or quarterly bills. 

The information from a mains utility meter can be made available by request to the utility provider. 

Advanced sub-meters: 

Advanced sub-meters operate in much the same way as advanced main utility meters.  They provide more accurate and ‘up-to-date’ consumption data for a sub-meter which measures a specific location, for example, a single floor of a building or specific server room. 

Data for advanced sub-meters meters is not transmitted to a utility company but is used by the building management.  This data may be transmitted to an automatic monitoring and targeting database where performance can be analysed to ensure efficient operation and identify reduction opportunities.  

Advance metering has several purposes to support various stakeholders in efficiently managing a building: 

  • Reducing the requirement for manual readings and the need for estimated billing. 
  • Understanding how utilities are used. 
  • Identifying opportunities for improved efficiency. 
  • Allowing utility bills to be cross-checked and the most appropriate tariff to be selected. 
  • Ensuring fairer apportionment of occupier billing where sub-meters allow. 
  • In relation to energy, providing data for carbon reporting as well as for legislative requirements, for example, Display Energy Certificates. 
  • Improving behavioural change through the supply of information to all parties. 

Importance 

There are three general drivers for advanced metering: 

  • Compliance and Environmental Reporting 

Accurate consumption data supports corporate reporting and compliance with environmental legislation including, for example, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). 

  • Improving efficiency 

Advance metering provides improved visibility and accuracy of a property’s utilities consumption and performance. This is a fundamentally step in the journey towards efficiency.  

Advanced metering allows various stakeholders including asset, property and facilities managers, and occupiers, to understand how, where and when utilities are being used in their building and, subsequently, to identify efficiency opportunities. 

It is important to note, however, that advanced metering does not reduce consumption on its own.   Installing and measuring energy usage informs actions that can, subsequently, lead to utilities, carbon and cost reductions. 

For example, advanced metering may be able to identify equipment being left running continuously or at during periods where a property is otherwise inactive. This enables informed decision making in relation to improving the control and performance of building services equipment.  

  • Accurate billing to contribute towards constructive landlord and occupier relationships 

Advanced metering can contribute towards a constructive relationship between asset managers and occupants.  As a significant portion of occupiers’ bills are estimated, advanced metering enables more accurate measurement of each occupiers’ use of utilities, and subsequently, fairer billing.  This can also help to incentivize occupiers to take resource efficiency actions within their areas.  

Responsibilities & Interests

The table below summarises the key activities associated with advanced metering, and highlights where asset managers, property managers and facilities managers are likely to have a responsibility or specific interest. 

  • AM - Asset Manager
  • PM - Property Manager
  • FM - Facilities Manager

Step 1: Formulate a metering  

Stakeholder:

Step 2: Install meters 

Stakeholder:

Step 3: Connect data from meters to a property’s data analytics platform  

Stakeholder:

Step 4: Continuous monitoring for performance improvement 

Stakeholder:

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How to

Intro

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Usually, the decision to adopt advanced metering is instructed by the asset manager and the process of installing and managing advanced meters is coordinated by the property manager with input from the facilities manager. 

Advanced metering follows four general steps.   

Step 1: Formulate a metering plan

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A metering plan should include a property’s metering schedule and strategy. 

Metering schedule 

A metering schedule involves identifying the main and sub-metering arrangement on-site, and documenting the location and function of each meter in tabular and diagrammatic forms.  It is important that meters listed on a metering schedule are also illustrated in the building’s low voltage distribution schematic.  

One way to do identify meters is to review existing billing arrangements to determine relevant main meters and to document the findings.  Where there is no reliable information to identify the level of metering present within a property, a metering survey can be undertaken by a competent individual, for example, an energy specialist. 

A metering schedule should provide: 

  • A list all the meters in a building. 
  • Meter names/references. 
  • The areas served by each meter, and whether they are fed from or feed to other meters. 

Metering strategy 

A metering strategy can help to develop an understand of how to align a property’s metering with the utilities goals of the asset manager and, potentially, occupants. 

As most properties have meters on the incoming supply for billing purposes, these meters cannot indicate, on their own, the reasons for a property’s utilities consumption profile. 

A well-considered sub-meter strategy will define where submeters will be installed, what they will monitor and how information from the meters will be captured and used to enable performance improvement through the identification of inefficiency and/or more accurate billing. 

A metering strategy should also consider the cost, practicality of installation, and value of the information gained by detailed metering against potential future savings. 

Step 2: Install Meters

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It is important that the installation of meters reflects the details specified in the metering plan, and that the installation, commissioning and handover stages are carefully considered. 

All new meters used for billing purposes must conform with EU Measuring Instruments Directive, and, following the installation of meters, calibration certificates should be retained and renewed every 12 months.  

A metering specialist should be engaged to: 

  • Install and commission meters in line with the manufacturer’s instruction, which will ensure accuracy of readings and effective operation. 
  • Check the installation against the metering schedule and design drawings, with spot checks undertaken to determine if meter readings are in the range of expected values. 
  • Check that the aggregate of all sub-meters equates to the main meter reading. 

Step 3: Connect data from meters to a property’s data analytics platform

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It is important to be able to visualise and interpret the utilities consumption data captured through advanced metering.  This can be done through connecting the data from advanced meters to a building energy management system (BEMS) or web or digital based data analytics platform 

Web portals or automatic metering systems provide real-time analysis where consumption data can be downloaded or be built with energy dashboards demonstrating energy operating patterns of the buildings. 

A competent energy specialist should be consulted for technical advice regarding the suitability of various data visualisation and analytics platforms which are available in the market.   

Step 4: Continuous monitoring for performance improvement

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It is important to establish a continuous monitoring process of the data captured from advanced meters. 

This process will allow for specific interventions and initiatives to be identified to drive utilities savings and contribute towards an overall positive performance of a building. 

There are numerous benefits of continuous monitoring which include tracking towards utilities targets and aligning building services with actual use requirements. 

Related Guidance Notes 

The following Guidance Notes contain related information: 

Additional resources