Park Plaza Condiminiums, PITTSBURGH, PA
As an industry leader in electrical contracting, EMCOR Services Scalise Industries is a single source provider for mechanical and electrical services and offers high-quality solutions to a variety of commercial clients in the greater Pittsburgh area. The Scalise Industries team was chosen to perform and oversee the electrical installations to the Park Plaza Condominium Associates’ property, calculating that the system’s $118,000 cost paid for itself in only seven-months as a direct result of sub metering the facility.
Pressured by rising costs, Park Plaza was faced with either raising rent to offset the property’s $20,000 per month electric bill or finding a way to allocate and bill each tenant’s electrical usage in order to recover a significant percentage of the facility’s operational overhead. Seeking to work with the tenants, some of whom had been on site for up to 30 years, Park Plaza Condominium Associates chose the latter option. To assist in the client’s decision, Scalise‘s team took on the role of managing the project, finding a credible vendor and, supervising the submetering installation.
It was estimated that running additional power company metering to each of the building’s 120+ tenants would be five to six times costlier than simply submetering each lease space by isolating each tenant’s electrical usage (kWh) behind the main utility meter. Scalise’s team found that submetering proved to be the ideal solution for this application and a great way to avoid the inherent unfairness of traditional ratio-based rent structures commonly used in the industry. Based on a simple cost-per-square-foot formula, ratio-based structures favor high-consumption users by unfairly saddling low-use consumers with shared costs beyond their control or ability to manage. Submeters prevent such inequities and eliminate tenant disputes by providing proof of actual energy usage. Based on prior experience, Scalise chose the E-Mon D-Mon submeters.
Submetering the twelve commercial spaces on the ground floor proved less challenging than metering the residential floors above. The entire building had finished drywall ceilings with limited access for cabling. The 200A split-core current sensors were installed in an existing junction box in the hallway just outside each apartment. Scalise Industries was able to pull cables from all the current sensors down to the MMUs. All the new cabling came through the corridors, then down the electrical riser closet to the basement. The hinged construction of the low-voltage (0-2V) output split-core current sensors allowed the electricians to install them non-invasively around the electrical feeds being monitored, thus eliminating the need to shut down the load and resulting in a safer, faster install. In the basement, an ethernet cable was run a few feet from the MMUs to the building’s engineering office where a desktop PC running E-Mon Energy software is used to analyze the meter data and output monthly tenant billing statements.
Scalise Industries exceeded the client’s expectations by installing a system that prevented the necessity of raising lease costs by providing a means to fairly and accurately assess individual electrical usage. Allocating actual costs to the using parties allowed property owner to not only improve the facility’s bottom line, but also increase tenant satisfaction and retention through more reasonable and equitable billing practices.
Park Plaza Condominiums is a nine-level mixed-use property and is home to the building owner, Park Plaza Condominium Associates. The structure is located a few blocks from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University.