Building Automation Systems (BAS) core functionality is to keep building climate within a specified range, light rooms based on an occupancy schedule, monitor performance and device failures in all systems and provide malfunction alarms. They allow property owners, managers, and operators to program their buildings to start-up, shut down, to cool or heat to a certain temperature and to turn lights on or off at certain times. This makes BAS powerful tools for having control over a building’s utility usage. However, while the original intent of BAS was climate control inside the building, they did not address the need for more insight into building operations – how they are run and where resources are consumed. That is where submetering comes into play.
Submetering Systems are integrated meters and automated reading systems for monitoring energy and water consumption. These systems can run independently from the BAS and they allow building owners and operators to monitor energy-related, and water utility services in real-time and in detail.
Why Integrate Submetering Systems to the BAS?
A good positive step towards lowering energy costs is reducing energy consumption. Installing energy-efficient equipment and using a BAS are all key to the first step. However, an accurate measure of consumption refines and improves the process. by just changing equipment, there is no way to know whether it will work as expected. In large buildings or campuses with multiple buildings, different managers have different interests, security may be interested in some aspects of the BAS, Facilities may just be interested in equipment performance and equipment alarms, an energy manager may require only a few parameters regarding electricity consumption, such as KVA/Hr, kWh, or 15-minute interval data. while the accounting departments need to allocate costs by departments or collect utility consumption from tenants because they are interested in billing reports at the end of the month.
Building Automation Systems as originally conceived are energy portals that do not provide an ideal solution for everyone involved. However, tying a submetering system to a building’s BAS complements it by adding metered consumption data which is necessary for a facility engineer or a manager because they would be interested in the overall building performance. Thanks to submetering systems integrated with BAS, the facility manager can monitor the consumption of energy of all the systems in the building.
The benefits of integrating a submetering system to a building’s BAS include:
- Centralized Data Hub
With a Building Automation System, data will get collected in one place so only one system needs to be checked. One can even access and control the system from a remote location. BAS are typically cloud-enabled and wireless, meaning that you can review your building’s status at any given moment.
- Detailed Information
Thanks to the submetering system, facility managers or engineers can access detailed information, such as current and voltage per phase, frequency, total harmonic distortion, power factor, the average per circuit metered, etc. For the HVAC, they can see the incoming/outgoing temperature from every fan-coil unit (also for gas and water) or the rate of flow of water-glycol at every metered point. The detailed information can provide them a clear picture of the building’s performance in multiple locations.
- Plug Control
Most buildings have many electrical outlets that are used to plug in different electrical devices and appliances. If they are still plugged in, these devices continue to consume energy even when they are turned off. It’s what we call phantom or vampire power loads. A submeter is able to check individual plugged loads, while a BAS uses controls to manage them. They can shut down all devices after hours to save more energy.
- Improved LEED Rating
With a more energy-efficient structure consisting of submetering and BAS, building owners get an opportunity to either obtain LEED certification or improve LEED rating. A LEED-certified building is identified as environmentally friendly, which can boost its reputation and value. Going “green” has become a must nowadays, and both tenants and the workforce are looking for sustainable buildings to live and work in. By implementing a submetering system in your building’s BAS, you will create greener and leaner operations.
A submetering system integrated with a building automation system facilitates easier technology upgrade in the future. As technology continues to be developed (especially since most building technology is now created to be wireless), building owners will be able to connect and operate new devices much more easily.