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You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure: Building-Level Metering

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As the Manager of USGBC's Building Performance Partnership and Recertification programs here at USGBC, I spend my time thinking over and over again about which aspects of building operations should be regularly monitored and which make the maximum contribution to the continuous high-performance of each building. We have to figure out how to encourage building operators to look at the holistic performance of their buildings and act based on the full story – So, how do we do that? What do we ask them to monitor? How do we work with thousands of building operators to tell the story?

Hours of thought and numerous discussions bring me back to what many of us have always known: Start with what is accessible. For most buildings, the easiest place to start monitoring performance is at the energy meter; knowing that energy consumption data is accessible to most building operators through existing meters or utility bills, it seems fair to ask folks to start monitoring their energy performance. If you've got water meters, start monitoring water use performance too – remember, we're working towards a picture of holistic performance.

Green building professionals may not know that some buildings don't even have energy meters, or a way to differentiate one building's consumption from multiple others on a single campus … I struggle with finding a way to motivate these buildings to begin to track their individual energy use. How much does it cost to clamp on a data logger, or install and connect building level meters to a central system as a part of planned facilities upgrades? It won't break the bank, which makes it absolutely feasible to track the performance of every building. Not one building owner will reap the benefits of energy or water savings without monitoring and trend logging, even at the building level.

Building level performance monitoring is something every building can do. You have to know where to start in order to reach the finish. The holistic picture, the full story, can only be created if you have all of information needed to complete it. USGBC offers tools, such as the Building Performance Partnership, to help buildings begin to tell their story. We will work with them to complete it and improve on it each time the story is told. We hope that our programs will lead to meters in every building (whole building and sub-system), followed by high performance achievement in every building. We will learn to walk, then run - together.

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    Lauren Riggs made 7 contributions in the last 6 months

Lauren Riggs

U.S. Green Building Council

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