Federal and Industry Partners Issue Challenge to Manufacturers

June 12, 2013

A coalition that includes the U.S. federal government and more than 200 major commercial building partners has recently challenged U.S. manufacturers to build wireless sub-meters that cost less than $100 apiece. The Energy Department's Federal Energy Management Program and the U.S. General Services Administration are among the organizations issuing the challenge.

A group of at least 18 manufacturers has already agreed to take up the challenge, pledging to produce devices that will meet the performance specifications outlined by the Energy Department and its private sector partners that have signed letters of intent to purchase the wireless sub-meters. The Energy Department worked with members of its Better Buildings Alliance and federal agencies to develop a performance-based manufacturing specification, and will offer third-party verification that the wireless building metering systems meet the performance specifications.

Electricity sub-meters provide building operators with the information they need to identify opportunities for savings. For example, a large commercial building might pay $10,000 a month or more for electricity, but not have any way to detect which systems are consuming the most electricity. A wireless sub-meter could be installed at various electrical panels throughout the building to give a more detailed picture of where the electricity is being used, thereby helping to identify savings. It might also allow commercial building operators to bill individual tenants for their electricity usage, creating an incentive for energy efficiency. Wireless sub-meters typically cost about $1,000 per installation now, so the goal is to reduce the cost by about 90%. The Department’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, the James A. Forrestal Building, will be used as a testing facility. See the Energy Department press release and the Better Buildings Alliance website.