We are excited to have Rob Richards (PE, CEM) as a contributing author for our blog. Rob most recently led the energy efficiency and sustainability efforts at Wofford College. Over a series of four blog posts, he will share with us his journey from the initial idea to measurable results.
Establishing a strong energy management plan depends on having insight into how energy is being used. But gathering diverse data from across campus buildings can be a challenge.
While Wofford College first began installing digital energy meters as early as 1997, the school made a major push to complete this metering hardware infrastructure as the initial step in for its energy management and sustainability plan.
Today, the college gathers a wide variety of energy data that ranges across buildings and includes readings for electricity, natural gas, chilled water consumption and heating hot water for HVAC use, potable water and the recycling waste stream. The college’s goal is to capture all energy resource inputs into its buildings and measure this on a kBtu per square foot basis. But how these measurements are gathered varies:
- 15-minute interval - automated entry: 202 interval meters report to the BuildingOS platform every 15 minutes. Of these meters, 187 are actual physical interval meters located across the campus, while the remaining 15 meter points are “calculated” meters that dwell within the BuildingOS platform. These calculated meters are used to equitably distribute consumption to campus buildings.
- Monthly billing cycle – automated entry: 259 bill meters report to the BuildingOS platform on a monthly interval. 51 of these meters are calculated bill meters within the BuildingOS platform, while the remainder are delivered into the platform through bill scraping software.
- Monthly billing cycle – manual entry: there are 36 manual bill meters for which data is manually entered every month. These are for recycling waste stream data and certain potable water accounts.
Setting the Right Collection Points
Gathering this diverse data required careful planning of the actual data collections points across several building groups on campus.
For example, one group is made up of five facilities that are hydronically connected for chilled water and hot water services. One building in the group contains the chilled water production equipment and another building contains the hot water production equipment. The three other buildings in this group are consumers only of this system.
The team knew it needed to collect data in a way that prevented a particular building from being penalized for producing chilled or hot water for itself as well as the other buildings in its hydronic group. To equitably distribute the appropriate consumption values to each building in the group, the team used the calculated interval meter function of the BuildingOS platform.
Maintaining Data Accuracy
Meters can fail in the field, so it’s important to check for accuracy on an ongoing basis. It helps to compare these interval meter consumption values against actual utility company billings, in addition to taking physical temperature/flow readings in the field, to verify accurate Btu meter performance.
While BuildingOS has a feature that will send out meter alerts when the meters go offline after a selectable period, it’s better to prevent these alerts. As with most things, the sooner a data stream problem can be identified and corrected, the less time-consuming the process of reconstructing the missing data.
Missed any of the other posts in the series? Don't fret: