Metering & Monitoring

Effective metering and monitoring can provide vital information on how a building is operating and the internal environmental conditions. It can:

  • provide useful feedback on how performance compares to design intent.

  • how effective management processes are.

  • help identify issues.

  • support investment decisions into improvement opportunities.

A wide range of building performance characteristics can be automatically metered or monitored. These typically centre around utility data relating to operational performance, and environmental conditions that can be used as a proxy for occupant wellbeing and satisfaction. Examples of the parameters that an occupier may wish to consider metering and monitoring are set out in the table below.

Utility sub-metering parameters:

  • Small power and lighting (kWh)
  • Major IT infrastructure e.g. data centres
  • Gas (kWh)
  • Water (m3)
  • Cooling (kWh)
  • Heat for delivered space heating energy
  • Heat for delivered domestic hot water (DHW) energy

Environmental monitoring parameters:

  • Air temperature (°C)
  • Carbon dioxide (ppm)
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) (ppm)
  • Illuminance Levels (daylight + artificial) (lux)
  • Noise levels (dB)
  • Relative Humidity (%)
  • Air velocity (m per s)
  • Ventilation rates (l per minute)

Opportunities

Implementing a optimal energy metering and environmental monitoring system can deliver multiple benefits:

Providing real time data on performance to provide insight for better operational management.

Benefits:

Monitoring indoor environmental conditions to understand and improve comfort and productivity.

Benefits:

Supporting reporting regulatory and corporate reporting requirements.

Benefits:

Supporting the validation of utility bills.

Benefits:

Identifying issues and providing evidence to support the business case to invest in improvement measures.

Benefits:

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principles for metering & monitoring

1. Develop a Metering & Monitoring Strategy

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A metering and monitoring strategy should be developed that outlines the occupier’s requirements.  Information on the existing metering and monitoring solutions within the base-build will help inform this process.

Key decisions related to:

  • What parameters should be measured? This will help identify if an independent occupier system is required e.g Building Management Sytem, Energy Management System, aM&T etc. The owner should be informed of requirements as they may be able to support in meeting those requirements.
  • What frequency should parameters be measured, and level of accuracy required?
  • Where meters and monitoring devices should be positioned? This is particularly important for monitoring internal environmental conditions and how it relates to partitioning, different spaces uses and air-flow e.g. temperature sensors, light sensors, air quality sensors.
  • How data will be communicated and stored? How data is transferred from a meter to a centralised datastore can be challenging and requires careful consideration. Options will range from hard-wired to wireless solutions, each with their own associated benefits and challenges in relation to installation costs, reliability and security. With cloud-based solutions now becoming the norm, any system that interacts within additional networks both within and outside the building will require engagement with IT teams to ensure appropriate IT security is in place.
  • Who will be required to access the information? i.e. internal or external individuals; technical to management roles. This will help scope out the way data should be accessed and who will have management responsibility.
  • Are there opportunities to combined data streams? When creating new data streams through the installation of new meters and monitoring devices, consideration should be given to how data can be combined with other existing data streams and systems to maximise its use and value. This avoids data being housed in separate silos with limited access and functionality. For example, a single source of utility data can be used to support billing, M&E services and corporate reporting, yet so often systems are not fully integrated.
  • How data outputs will be used in future report and decision making? This will help clarify how data should be reported and to whom and the types anticipated decision making as a result of the data This critical step is often ill-considered resulting in data being collected but not effectively used. This should also help determine whether an off-the-shelf reporting software can be used or bespoke platform developed.
  • Do the required skills for delivery exist? This will help identify any necessary training needs for the facilities management team or outsourcing requirements to third party service providers.

 

2. Assess Base-Build Metering & Monitoring

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Understanding the extent of metering, sub-metering and monitoring infrastructure within the base build, as well as how data is stored and analysed, are first steps in establishing a strategy. The occupier’s design team will need to collaborate with the owner’s facilities and property management team to establish:

1. The extent of main utility and sub-metering within the building and end use.

Specifically does sub-metering exist for high consuming base build plant, by floor plate, and / or to a system level within the space e.g. heating, lighting, cooling, small power. This should be available through a metering plan for the property.

CIBSE best-practice suggests sub-metering should be provided to:

  • Each tenanted area in excess of 500 m2
  • Heating and cooling services to separately tenanted areas greater than 2500 m2
  • Boiler or CHP installations greater than 50kW input power
  • Chiller installations greater than 20kW input power
  • Electric humidifiers great than 10kW input power
  • Motor Control Centres providing power to fans and pumps great than 10kW

2. Whether a BMS for the property exists.

This should ensure any solution identified by the design team will be compatible with property's system and help reduce overall costs for the occupier.

3. The extent of monitoring of indoor environmental conditions.

This should include the environmental factors being monitored, the number and position of monitors within the space.

4. How data is captured, stored and analysed.

This will identify existing communications infrastructure that the occupier may be able to 'piggy-back' off rather than installing it's own.

5. Whether access to information is available.

This will identify whether information can be provided by the property owner to support the occupiers metering and monitoring requirements either via period reporting or via access to 'live' data.

6. Whether historical data can be made available.

Such information can support any modelling work and review whether current monitoring capabilities are sufficient to meet the occupier's needs.

3. Select ECA Eligible Equipment

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Where possible, the selection of metering and monitoring devices on the Energy Technology List means costs can be off-set against taxable profits via the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme.


The Rising Risks of Inertia

Technological advances and the emerging emphasis on workplace wellbeing are transforming the way building occupants perceive their environment. Occupants are now much more informed and empowered, using low cost tools e.g. wearbles, and sensors to assess and share data on their working environment conditions.

This introduces owners and occupiers to a new era, where building performance is accessible to and under potentially constant review from, a wider audience. This reality poses both risks and opportunities to both:

  • Owners: where buildings provide a healthy productive environment for their occupiers can distinguish themselves within the market, whereas a lack of understanding and evidence base could lead an owner exposed to challenges regarding the internal quality of the space.
  • Occupiers: working is a healthy, productive space has it's obvious benefits, but insufficient monitoring capabilities or working in a poor internal environmental could lead to increased HR complaints.