Electricity submeters are installed downstream of the utility meter and provide disaggregated energy and power quality information to key decision-makers including facilities managers, building owners, tenants, etc., enabling them to increase efficiency and more readily monitor systems. While the technology is not new, building owners and managers are taking control of costs in commercial, industrial, and residential buildings worldwide, empowered by tools and solutions that offer deep insight into the way energy is used in their buildings. Submetering technology and services lie at the heart of this transformation.

According to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, worldwide shipments of both advanced and basic electricity submeters will grow steadily over the remainder of this decade, reaching 1.6 million annually by 2020. From 2012 to 2020, shipments will total more than 10 million, according to the report.

“Green building certification programs like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) specifically recommend, incentivize, or even require submetering to be installed in certified properties,” says senior research analyst Eric Bloom. “At the same time, a number of important regulations, such as building codes and governmental imperatives, are coming into effect, requiring submetering or continuous energy monitoring. These forces are driving demand for submetering technology and services that leverage the data that submeters provide.”

Over the next eight years an increasing number of submeters will be fitted with wireless capability, the study concludes. Wireless is ideal in cases where significant cabling would be required to enable a submeter system and it results in considerable avoided cost. This type of arrangement makes sense in many campus-wide submeter retrofits, where the installation of copper is impractical. However, wireless still faces a number of financial and technical barriers to implementation. Adding a wireless communication device can add considerable upfront cost to a submetering system, and from a technical perspective, wireless systems cannot always provide data over the long distances required for certain installations. Nevertheless, wireless submeters will help expand the overall market, according to the report.