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Switching to Submetering: Planning, Preparation and the Physical Steps

Ronda Kaysen in Building Operations on May 9, 2013

Tower East, 190 E. 72nd Street, Upper East Side

Intech 21 Power Meter PM-2104 submeter
May 9, 2013

Usually, the biggest challenge is coordination. If the electrician finishes one unit at 11 A.M. but can't get access to the next one until 2 P.M., the crew loses three vital hours in a day.

"Normally, when an engineer gives you a timeline, I double it," says David Lipson, managing director at Century Management, which manages the property. "But this project went a lot smoother than anticipated. We projected two months, and they did it in under 30 days."

The co-op board of Tower East had chosen the Intech 21 Power Meter PM-2104 (above), one of the four submeters eligible to participate in NYSERDA's advanced submetering program. The five-by-five-inch device was placed next to the circuit breaker. Except in a few apartments that had been combined, the circuit-breakers were in the kitchens. The meters use a wireless communication technology that makes reporting data easier and is able to penetrate thick concrete walls with the aid of circuit relays along the way.

Preparation Is Critical

Before work began, Adrian Sanchez, the resident manager, met with Robert Friess, president of AMPS-ELEMCO, the company installing the submeters. Sanchez visited every apartment, taking photographs of each one. The team targeted the most complicated units and anticipated problems. A week before the job started, Sanchez and an electrician visited every unit and planned out the schedule. They decided to tackle the most challenging apartments first. Notices were sent out to all the shareholders letting them know when they would be in their apartments and that they would need access.

A few days before work began, all the material arrived on-site. Sanchez made sure he had his carpenter, painters and plaster workers available to do any repairs. He divided work between two electricians so two apartments could be worked on at the same time. He sent his crew into a unit before the electrician arrived to prep it. After work was complete, another crew would come in to make any repairs.

On his desk, he kept a calendar that listed all the apartments scheduled for the day. If they made their way through the list and still had time, he took an apartment from the following day and moved it up.

On average, the team completed 10 units daily. Some days, they did as many as 14. The crew took lunch every day and logged no hours of overtime. Having easy access to all the apartments guaranteed that the crew could work as fast as it needed without having to wait to get into an apartment. "I've been here for 10 years and the trust is there," says Sanchez of his unfettered access to apartments. "The trust was carte blanche."

The work was finished in two weeks.


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