Benchmarking the energy performance of a property—that is, measuring it and comparing it to similar properties—requires utility data on energy consumption and load over at least 24 contiguous months . Owners and operators of multifamily properties must have access to this utility data for the whole building in order to benchmark it accurately. However, whole-building energy data is often difficult for them to obtain. The barriers can include:

  • Separate meters – Building owners cannot access energy meters in buildings where residents are billed directly for energy without authorization from those residents.
  • Manual data collection – Securing authorization from residents to release the data, or collecting it monthly from individual residents, can be time-intensive and procedurally difficult.
  • Deregulated Energy States – the sheer volume of selected resident utilities in certain parts of the country makes the gathering of data from utilities time intensive.
  • Utility data policies – Many utilities have rigorous rules and privacy policies governing the direct release of customer energy data to third parties.
  • Utility IT Systems – many utilities have systems that cannot provide this information easily for a variety of IT reasons

A real world example 

Let’s explore deeper the challenge created by sub metering multifamily residential buildings. In some cases, resident spaces are sub metered separately and each resident pays their utility bill separately. Gathering data on all these separate sub meters presents logistical and even legal challenges. Most of the local disclosure laws also require utilities to provide “whole building” energy usage data to the Energy Star Portfolio Manager software.

Some of the laws include provisions relating to privacy when sub metered data is aggregated for the whole building. For example, when data for an entire building is provided by Austin Energy (the utility serving the City of Austin), data from at least four separate meters must be aggregated together, and energy data from one single meter cannot account for 80 percent or more of the aggregated energy consumption.

Other Challenges that must be normalized to understand the energy performance at a property

  • Vacant Management – are  occupancy rates up or down over the 24 month measurement period. What impact does this have on Load Management?
  • Vacant Recovery – should these measurements be treated as common area or resident area?
  • Utility Theft – pretty self explanatory but difficult to measure the impact on a properties performance.

Is anyone trying to assist with this road block?

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) adopted a resolution in 2011 calling on state regulators to facilitate better access for building owners to whole-building energy consumption data. The results have been sparse from this effort.

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One Response to Another roadblock to Energy Management in Multifamily – The availability of “Whole Building” utility data

  1. Jim Charles says:

    On November 19, 2013, NASUCA passed a resolution supporting access by building owners and managers to whole-building energy consumption data to support energy-efficient building operations as long as all feasible measures to ensure the privacy of individual tenant data is considered.

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