Under the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan, Energy Efficiency seems to finally be getting its day in the sun. For years, the rapid growth of renewable energy has captured the attention of the American public. Most people even agree that increasing America’s use of renewables is a good thing. A Gallup Poll from March found that most Americans agree that more emphasis should be placed on renewable energy production (80% for solar and 70% for wind) and want to reduce fossil fuel use (60%) to combat climate change.
However, what is talked about much less, is the important role that energy efficiency has in lowering America’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Becoming more energy efficient might even be the best thing the United States can do to cut GHG emissions. A report published in October by the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that energy efficiency opportunities like installing smart meters could reduce expected 2050 US GHG emissions by as much as 50% and could cut primary energy use by 49%. That’s not just a lot of emissions savings- it’s also a lot of dollars.
Several cities are already incorporating energy efficiency into aggressive plans to combat climate change, but no American city is doing more than New York. Its Green New Deal, the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA), is the first major piece of legislation specifically designed to place energy efficiency at the center of its plan to lower the City’s GHG emissions.
CMA is one of the most ambitious and significant climate actions undertaken by any major city in the world. It matters even on an international level because New York City has a GMP of about $1.5 trillion. That makes New York City among the world’s twenty largest economies, just shy of Canada and Spain’s national economies.
CMA is a massive undertaking, occurring in an immense economy. However, it isn’t just one piece of legislation. CMA is actually a legislative package of 9 bills meant to align the City with its 1.5 °C Climate Action Plan— “to advance the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius”. All 9 bills were enacted into law on May 18, 2019, becoming Local Laws 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 and 100. These laws set the City on a path towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. While CMA may seem overwhelming, only Local Laws 95 and 97 need to be understood in order to know how CMA affects energy efficiency.
New York City’s big buildings use an enormous amount of energy for heating, cooling, lighting and other operations. By cutting a building’s energy use, less GHG emissions are emitted because less power needs to be generated for the building to carry out its operations. It is critical that New York City’s buildings become more energy efficient considering they account for about 67% of the City’s total GHG emissions. What’s more, a report by Align-New York and its partners found that just 2% of the City’s buildings consume 45% of its energy. To put a significant dent in New York City’s GHG emissions, the Office of the Mayor and New York City Council must rapidly improve the energy efficiency of large buildings.
There is no question that achieving the targets laid out under Local Law 97 will take considerable effort. However, it is important to remember that because the base year used in Local Law 97 is 2005, it is more than likely that your building has already become more energy efficient since then.
By: Matthew Mininberg
What is Submetering?
Submetering is the use of electrical metering devices with the ability to measure energy usage in each apartment, after the building primary service utility meter.
Submetering tenant spaces is beneficial for both property owners and tenants. Landlords (note that in coops and condos, the tenants are the owners) benefit from increased tenant engagement, reduced resource consumption, and eligibility for Energy & Atmosphere LEED credits. Tenants can use submeter data to monitor daily usage, ensure accurate billing, reach sustainability goals, and reduce their utility bills. In addition, the master meter enables shopping for less expensive and “Green” power from ESCO’s, and buying in bulk often qualifies the building for lower rates. Why pay “retail” rates with an individual (aka “direct”) meter when a master meter provides “bulk” or “wholesale” rates.
1. Seamless and Accurate Tenant Billing
In some states, in multifamily buildings, it is permitted to charge each tenant a portion of the building total energy bill equivalent to the square footage that tenant occupies. However, this standard industry practice is inherently unfair to both owners and tenants and results in unfair billing. For example, if a laundromat (an energy-intensive business) and a retail shop (not energy-intensive) occupy the same square footage in a building, they pay an equal share of the electric bill, even though one tenant consumes much more than the other; or, if two apartments of equal square footage have different size families, they would both be charged the same amount even though the usage is quite different. Other real-world examples include tenants who have more than one residence, and may be spending a week or season in another home and use little or no kWh consumption in the un-occupied apartment, but they would still be charged based on the occupied space. The problem here is that tenants are not billed based on consumption behavior, rather, they are billed based on the total consumption of the rest of the tenants - this is known as “RUBS” (Ratio Utility Billing Service) where permitted.
That is one reason why, in NY state, new construction multi-family buildings must have either direct utility meters or submeters for each apartment. The NY State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) has shown that residents of an un-metered apartment (where the rent includes the utility cost, aka “rent-inclusion”) will use 10% - 30% more electricity compared to the same apartment when a submeter is installed. The reason is obvious, since the rent does not increase when more electricity is used or wasted.
With submeters, landlords can instead charge each tenant for their exact consumption during a particular billing period, rather than making an arbitrary and time-consuming estimation.
2. Identifying Inefficiencies
As energy management becomes more important to companies that operate large buildings and facilities, the need for detailed information on how energy is used increases. Submetering of spaces and equipment can identify areas where energy is consumed. Property managers and building engineers use this data to create and implement energy reduction programs to save electricity and money.
Energy efficiency is the first step in achieving sustainability in buildings and helps to control increasing energy costs while reducing their environmental footprint. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.
Quadlogic submeters log usage (kWh) at hourly and daily intervals so usage patterns can be analyzed.
3. Going Green
Submetering enables building owners to implement an effective green strategy. Hardware and software system are introduced, specifically addressing the needs of the sustainability market by providing functionality that helps analyze residents’ energy consumption habits.
As the industry continues to evolve, the need for a powerful, accurate, and environmentally conscious solution becomes more apparent.
If you are interested, thinking about installing a submetering system, or wish to learn more about our submetering services, feel free to call us on +1 (212) 930-9300 or, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we will be happy to assist you in designing a cost-effective solution. We work with architects, builders, and consulting engineers to design the best submetering system.