An important part of sustainability is understanding energy consumption. Therefore, OSU tracks monthly energy, water and steam usage on campus by reading and recording data from every meter in each building on campus. This monthly task takes many hours as campus has many buildings and each building can have several meters.
During meter reading, data is input into a tablet PC, transferred to a computer in the sustainability office and compared to previous month/year’s entries. When an abnormal usage is found, a re-read of the meter is performed to determine if there was an input error or if the building is truly experiencing abnormal usage for that month.
While many meters on campus are digital, some meters are analog (“old school”) dial meters. Due to the nature of analog meters, they can be difficult to accurately read under certain circumstances making human error a likely possibility. If there was not an error in meter read, the building is further evaluated to determine causes of the change in usage.
Due to the antiquated metering system, OSU is looking into other methods of reading and tracking meter data. Some possibilities of a new system would include tracking meter data remotely, via computer and possibly online. It would also allow the sustainability office to create a number of reports that would output thorough comparisons of energy use between buildings and over time with accuracy.
Data would also be available to staff, faculty and students outside of the sustainability office. Most importantly we would be able to troubleshoot energy issues sooner and work better toward reducing energy consumption, saving OSU time and money.
Even with such a high tech energy management system we must still remember that, ultimately, energy consumption is everyone’s responsibility. Modifying human behavior is still the most important way to manage and decrease energy use.