Monitoring

Monitoring energy usage on a continuous basis provides building operators with the information necessary for improving building performance. A complete picture of a building’s energy profile can be achieved by monitoring utilities consumption, including electricity, natural gas, steam and water. It is common to target a variety of ‘monitoring points’ at the whole-building level, at a sub-system level or at an individual system level. Building operators are typically interested in the rate, or demand, for these utilities, as well as the consumption or total usage over a given time period. Monitoring points typically include a meter and a data collector. The DataCube® is not a meter itself, but rather is a data collector that can be used with nearly any type of meter including utility meters and owner-installed sub-meters. The collected meter data is continuously transferred over facility Ethernet to a web server for storage and analysis.

Analysis

Analysis of metered data aims to identify opportunities for operational changes and to avoid costs by quickly identifying poorly operating equipment. Analysis usually involves ‘visualization’ by plotting meter data on a time-based graph using software tools. Malfunctioning equipment becomes readily apparent, and operational and behavioral issues that lead to waste can be identified and corrected. Advanced analysis may include benchmarking facility performance by comparing a facility’s profile to national averages, such as through EPA Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool, or may include the development of a facility energy baseline using regression analysis and weather normalization. The DataCube® includes its own visualization software and provides data in a format that can be used with a wide variety of analysis software.

Control

Both consumption and demand charges are included in electricity bills. For customers with significant load, a utility will typically install a separate demand meter and bill the customer a demand charge based upon the highest monthly demand within in a previous period of time (typically within the previous 12 months). Even though a customer may have a lower demand in a given month as indicated by a demand meter, they are still billed for the highest month of demand in the previous 12 months. These demand ‘ratchets’ strongly incentivize electricity customer to manage their load to avoid exceeding this threshold.

Control systems, called building automation system (BAS), involve sensors, control algorithms and actuators that work together to regulate a variable at a setpoint or reference value. In the case of energy, a building operator will benefit from controlling their demand by shedding load prior to exceeding the demand ratcheting threshold. Load limiting control strategies may involve shedding lighting load, relaxing temperature setpoints and locking out equipment such as motors to prevent simultaneous operation. While advanced building automation systems may provide large facilities with load limiting capability, many facilities are not equipped to perform even basic control strategies to minimize or avoid demand ratchets.

The DataCube® provides control functionality in the form of a 48V controllable power output that allows users to automatically actuate relays (and connected equipment) when a facility exceeds a certain demand threshold. At a fraction of the cost of a building automation system, small and medium commercial customers with either no automation system or an older automation system can upgrade their facilities with control capabilities for avoiding demand costs. For system integrators, the DataCube® also provides control functionality in the form of building automation system (BAS) communications through BACNet IP and Modbus TCP. In addition to load limiting, the DataCube® may allow participation in demand response programs and provides demand response aggregators with a rich toolkit for implementing control strategies at customer facilities.


Commercial, industrial and institutional utility customers
  • Monitor and analyze consumption for internal efficiency initiatives
  • Verify utility bills, support maintenance programs, participate in incentive rate and demand response programs
  • Inform and help structure purchases from alternative suppliers of energy

Utilities and curtailment service providers (CSP)
  • Best available system to monitor customer usage in demand management programs
  • Non-disruptive, non-invasive, low-tech installation commercial, industrial, institutional and residential applicability

Government facility energy managers
  • Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires energy monitoring data loggers in all federal buildings
  • Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires advanced metering and data collection on gas, water and steam meters in all federal buildings and processes
  • DataCube® perfectly and easily satisfies the special requirements of EPAct 2005, and is especially suited to facilitate EISA 2007 compliance

Energy Services Companies (ESCO)
  • Enables intensive measurement and analysis for energy audits, efficiency projects, aggregation services, time-of-use and demand response programs
  • Lower first cost, more rapid deployment and lower cost of use
  • Works for technologically diverse and geographically dispersed meters

Customer aggregation
  • Normalizes technologically diverse and geographically dispersed meters
  • Extensible two-way communication technology