Property Manager Automates Utility Bill Allocation

Camera Place is a multi-tenant facility that houses a number of commercial tenants, and includes office, warehouse, recreation and light manufacturing space. Built in the 1960s, it was originally designed as a printing facility for Von Hoffman Press company, and totals over 150,000 sq. ft. of space.

The facility has a single electric service feeding it, which is split into two primary voltage services that distribute power throughout the facility. Deca Realty, which manages the property, installed E-Mon meters (later acquired by Honeywell) to isolate energy usage for various tenant spaces within the facility, and documented monthly readings to allocate the monthly utility bill to tenants. This process was very manual, and lacked a method to verify accuracy of the information recorded.

When the company began exploring the opportunity to utilize rooftop solar to reduce energy usage, they were pleased to learn that they had ample rooftop to install over a megawatt of solar. However, they lacked the necessary interval data to determine whether they should exceed the state’s 100 kW cap on net metering. (Net metering allows excess solar energy to be exported to the grid, with the solar producer receiving full retail credit for energy exports.) The owners decided to forgo the net metering, but limit the solar capacity to 150 kW, trusting that the facility’s base loads would never be less than this. They also agreed that an energy monitoring system would be of value to better understand the building’s energy usage, and enable them to programmatically allocate utility bills to tenants.

We explored several systems that would enable them to capture interval data, and ultimately decided to leverage their existing E-Mon equipment and augment with additional hardware and software. The site already had 14 meters that were aggregated to capture energy usage for 7 of the 8 tenants, and the largest tenant’s energy usage was simply included in a triple-net lease. EnerGuidance worked with E-Mon’s local representative, Meglio & Associates, to design a system that would additionally monitor the total building loads along with the newly installed solar production. The 16 meters were input into a set of E-Mon Interval Data Recorders, which capture and store energy usage every 15 minutes for each meter. This data is then fed to a remote database at Deca’s offices for analysis.

The E-Mon Energy software is configurable to associate one or more meters to a tenant, and then tie total consumption of all tenants back to the total usage on the utility bill. In addition to the utility bill allocation capabilities, the system will enable Deca to analyze energy usage data of their tenants, which is particularly of value for the tenant for which they are paying energy costs. This will enable them to identify patterns in the energy use, and cost-justify investments in energy efficiency upgrades. They can also look for anomalies and other indicators of wasted energy that could be addressed with operational changes.

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