During low building occupancy, Highwoods Properties utilizes submetering to forecast energy usage

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Sep 23, 2020

While many Better Buildings partners continue to face complex challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial real estate partner Highwoods Properties is using this time to continue pursuing energy efficiency improvements. In particular, the company is utilizing submeter technology to analyze energy usage, forecast trends, and find opportunities for energy savings.

Highwoods Properties, an East-coast based real estate investment trust (REIT), developed their LiveMeter program in 2010 to monitor the main energy meters at each of the Highwoods-managed properties and determine when building systems are running – both when they should and shouldn’t be. Weekly energy reports are sent to property managers so that they can actively participate in the energy management of their buildings by reviewing the data and making any necessary adjustments. These reports have added value during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing snapshots of energy usage before, during, and after re-occupation.

Because many of Highwoods’ properties were sparsely occupied, submeter information was vital to finding opportunities for energy savings, as a properly-managed empty building should not use as much energy as a fully-occupied one. This exemplifies how metering and monitoring technology captures granular energy data and can help organizations such as Highwoods make targeted performance investments and building improvements by evaluating progress and assessing energy performance of the building systems.  

Since the beginning of March, Highwoods has been following the CDC’s and ASHRAE’s guidelines and recommendations to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, resulting in large changes to building use and occupancy. Highwoods continues to implement and track their energy reduction progress by finding innovative energy reduction solutions through submetering building usage data and shaving energy demand. Though results are still being calculated, the submetering technology has allowed Highwoods access to this critical data that otherwise would have been lost – and the energy savings lost along with it.

DOE recently completed the 2020 Better Buildings Summer Webinar Series with Succeed with Submetering: How to Make the Business Case, featuring a panel of experts from the Maryland Department of General Services, Towson University, and Argonne National Laboratory. This submetering webinar was designed to help organizations of all shapes and sizes benefit from a more detailed understanding of their energy usage, and to show a compelling business case to decision makers for the value of submetering. To view this webinar, along with many more on this subject, visit the Better Buildings On-Demand Webinar Library.