Carleton University modernizes metering
April 1, 2019 - Ottawa’s Carleton University comprises 50 buildings on one campus, spread out over 153 acres. A metering system measures all energy and water used in each of these buildings. Specifically, steam, domestic water, chilled water, natural gas and electricity consumption data are collected and stored for energy analysis, cost allocation and budgeting purposes.
Monitoring and comparing current consumption to historical data helps staff identify mechanical and equipment failures, including leaks and pipe breaks. Furthermore, electrical meters and a software package have proven useful as troubleshooting tools for energy and sustainability managers with regard to conservation and sustainability initiatives. Using metered data, they have been able to encourage student participation in efficiency competitions. Historical data are also made available for engineering students who are researching analytic and graphic software.
In 1995, Carleton’s department of planning and construction commissioned PML Contracting to install electrical meters at the university’s main substation and throughout the campus, to capture the electrical loads to every building.
At the same time, steam and domestic water flow meters were installed on the main supply lines for each building. Prior to the installation of these meters, energy consumption had been estimated per building, based on square footage.
James McGrath, Carleton’s first metering technician, was tasked with complex programming, but was able to deliver accurate per-building energy consumption data. The logging of this data began in 1997, which revolutionize the way Carleton captured its energy use. The data provided accurate measurements for benchmarking consumption, verifying savings after retrofits and detecting suspect practices and equipment.
Metering at Carleton has come a long way since then, from rudimentary programming to enterprise-scale software to today’s deployment of Power Monitoring Expert (PME) from Schneider Electric Canada, which provides intuitive graphics, a web-based user interface and expansive options for reports.
I succeeded James when he announced his retirement in 2008, though by that point I had already been a Carleton employee for more than 20 years, with a background in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and building automation. Today, as the utility meter monitoring technician, I report to and work closely with Scott Macdonald, manager of building operations, as we identify both existing issues and potential future problems.
Scott oversees HVAC, building controls and utilities. Ultimately, it is his responsibility to ensure the university has the most accurate utility information available, so accurate budget projections can be made and capital investment projects can be funded for low-performing buildings, based on energy costs per square foot.
My role involves monitoring and maintaining all energy meters at the building level and associated sensors in the field. This includes troubleshooting, repairing and replacing pressure and temperature sensors and networking and fibre switches. I also change and upgrade electrical meters, working alongside an electrician.
While I do not install flow meters, I am responsible for troubleshooting them and, if necessary, initiating their replacement, which involves sizing and field-site configuration.
My administrative duties include managing and updating documentation on meters and associated equipment using the PME software. Based on requests from various department managers, I generate daily reports.
I also generate and deliver month-end reports for Scott for budgeting and cost allocation processing. At these times, I review the data for any anomalies, which are usually the result of faulty equipment or human error. As such, investigating anomalies often results in significant cost savings!
Under our ongoing contract with Schneider, Kyle Coveart provides technical support, which has been instrumental to my endeavours in setting up the metering system. He offers not only software expertise, but also advice for troubleshooting in the field. We usually resolve issues through Cisco Webex, as then we can both observe the PME application while on the job.
Another trusted resource is Eric Langford of Toronto-based Langford & Associates, which represents Schneider and other manufacturers of power meters, energy management systems and electrical equipment. His help is essential to our efforts at keeping up-to-date with new and cost-efficient products for our specific needs.
As mentioned, Carleton’s primary objective for the energy analysis software is to provide accurate data, as required for budgeting and cost allocation. Its purpose in this sense is to alert us of any cost-saving opportunities in a timely matter. As such, it needs to be flexible, allowing for changes as campus buildings are upgraded.
The secondary objective is to provide tools for users to analyze both real-time and historical data. This involves customizing graphics, charts, tables, trends and reports.
Our PME software and Ion meters have allowed us to analyze and display data through a wide range of methods for a wide spectrum of users, as well as reap the benefits of cost savings enabled by identifying any sources of energy loss, such as faulty or failing equipment and mechanical issues. Early detection and fast resolutions have provided significant cost savings.
Ancillary buildings and departments share in the benefits of the metering system when budgeting and or identifying opportunities for retrofits. We can measure and quantify the corresponding savings.
Another goal is to deliver the data from our metering system to our building automation systems, which will allow us to make smarter decisions. We are currently negotiating with a third-party provider of field and on-site technical support to assist us with this challenge.
We are also exploring opportunities to provide energy consumption ‘dashboards’ in the lobbies of buildings across the campus. This would help keep a spotlight on our conservation efforts.
Delta Controls is the primary provider of our building automation systems and its Enteliweb Earthright software currently drives our dashboards. The submetering of specific equipment and areas is already tied into the Delta controllers, but with further integration, we could showcase the collected data on the dashboards.
Further, data transferred from the metering system could help program the controllers to yield operational savings. The challenge here is choosing the most cost-efficient option for accomplishing this task, but we are optimistic we will be able to reach this objective in the very near future.
This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of Energy Manager Canada.
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