Thermal energy (which includes district energy utilities, hydronic systems, geothermal and CHP), is becoming an increasingly popular way to heat and cool multi-tenant buildings. When implemented with sub-metering technology, it provides a way to accurately measure consumption and encourage conservation.
One challenge these systems face is the ability to effectively measure and bill thermal energy consumption to end users. The Canadian market sees growing demand for sub-metering thermal energy and appears to be following recommendations from groups, such as The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, who have recommended thermal sub-metering as a means to achieve energy conservation and cost control.
Challenges and risks
There are challenges and potential risks for real estate developers, however, because of a lack of government standards for measuring thermal energy. Thermal energy is more complex to measure than other utilities and requires specialized equipment and expertise. Further, it is currently not regulated by Measurement Canada—although they have indicated their awareness and potential support for best practices adopted from Europe and elsewhere. Real estate developers need to be aware that best practices, technology, and expertise from Europe is available in Canada. If the right methodology is not adopted, developers run the risk of using technologies that won’t enable equitable cost allocation and billing practices for a user-pay system.
To minimize potential risk in investments, here are four factors developers and other stakeholders must consider:
- Will the measurement methodology selected meet current and future regulations within Canada?
- Is the methodology utilized by more mature thermal energy markets, such as Europe?
- Can the methodology stand up to scrutiny if an end-user (tenant) disputes their bill? What international standards or hardware can you direct them to that will ease their concerns?
- Will the methodology be delivered by an appropriate provider who will correctly specify, deploy, manage, and bill from the system in the long-run?
QMC, a leader in sub-metering solutions, recently published a White Paper examining the requirement and challenges for effectively measuring thermal energy consumption in Canada. Visit www.qmeters.com for more info.