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Measure | Adjust | Improve

Measure | Adjust | Improve

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 281).

Based on experience, I estimate 90% of buildings do not have any sub-metering, they only have basic utility meters that monitor total building electrical, gas and water consumption. This has to change if we are to manage our buildings operational foot print. “What gets measured gets managed”.

Why are building systems not sub-metered and optimized based on actual consumption data?

  1. Cost – sub-metering adds cost to construction and maintenance.
  2. Owners never ask for it – on the odd occasion they do ask, it is normally removed during value engineering.

To get metering done correctly it has to be a design requirement i.e. incorporated within the OPR/Design Brief. Good practice looks like this:

  • Meter and report total building electrical, gas and water consumption and monitor consumption daily, weekly and monthly. Identify and analyze trends.
  • Sub-meter the following sub-systems:
    • Lighting
    • Process electrical loads
    • Plug loads
    • Heating
    • Cooling
    • Ventilation
    • Steam
    • Process water
    • Potable Water
    • Grey water
    • Gas
  • Connect all meters to the BMS (BAS) with trend log facilities.
  • Have a dedicated BMS (BAS) head end graphic showing all metering.
  • Have meters report to the BMS (BAS) “native” measurement units i.e. KWh’s, M3 of water, cubic meters of gas plus also convert/report total energy use intensity (EUI) and $’s/Sq.M for benchmarking purposes.
  • Use revenue grade meters when consumption based billing is required.
  • Verify meter calibration in the field during commissioning.
  • Continually calibrate and optimize building operation using design energy models / energy budgets Vs actual building systems performance vs open source benchmarking KPI’s.
  • Set BMS alarms for high consumption and/or deviations from KPI’s.

For clarity, the commissioning team require the following information at the conclusion of design phase:

  1. MEP plus ELV systems drawings and specs.
  2. BMS points list.
  3. Metering system information and schedule of meters.
  4. Design energy modelling report with energy budgets.

This information is vital for commissionability design review and development of the commissioning plan. How often do I see metering done right with the information listed above available to the commissioning team? Not often!

The “green building movement” (hate that name) talks a good game about improving performance of buildings but hardly ever talks about measuring building and systems performance. BTW, Facilities Management is not passive, it is supposed to be active in terms of systems and building optimization.

Long story short, without continual building systems performance measurement, analysis and corrective action the “green building movement” is all talk and frankly, just performative, virtue signaling.


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