How smart meter data helped cut building energy consumption

Commercial real estate company Colliers International used smart meter data to cut energy consumption in a Canadian buildings it manages by 26%.
Published: Thu 19 Jun 2014

In a case study of how smart meters deployed in British Columbia have helped cut energy consumption in commercial property, Colliers International reports how they used the online portal MyHydro, supplied by Canadian electric utility BC Hydro to all customers, to track usage data.

Lorina Keery, manager of sustainability, real estate management services, at Colliers International, said: "We saw the value of accessing the consumption data and immediately took advantage of this information so that we could further our understanding of where there may be opportunities for improvement in electricity consumption.

"We had compelling results from the first building that we looked into, which spurred further action for the remainder of our portfolio."

Analysing energy usage data

The company manages a building owned and occupied by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, which has an older direct digital control (DDC) system and lighting controls with limited capabilities to visualise, aggregate or trend usage data.

Ms Keery said: "When we viewed the daily consumption data in MyHydro we saw that energy consumption on the weekends remained high in comparison to weekday usage, even though the property is largely unoccupied on weekends.

"In addition to this, when we looked further into the hourly data, we could see that consumption spiked at 4am. This indicated that the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and possibly the lights were coming on well before the building was becoming occupied."

The company also noticed that although the building was typically unoccupied after 6pm, electricity consumption wasn't dropping until 9pm.

They responded by sending in an HVAC technician to the property who worked with the site technician to implement scheduling changes to see if we could reduce the consumption during unoccupied hours.

Making energy savings

Within a week, the building was using 14 per cent less energy on weekdays and 26 per cent less on weekends.

Keery said: "If these reductions are maintained and we continue to monitor the consumption and schedules in the DDC system, this will translate into a savings of $17,500 annually on the electricity bill and operating costs.

She added: "Although Colliers knew this building was one of the higher energy consumers in our portfolio, without access to the daily and hourly electricity consumption data, we would not have seen the opportunities to make these immediate improvements."