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Leicester - United Kingdom

City-wide intelligent metering


Leicester City Council has some very ambitious environmental commitments to reduce energy and water use in its buildings. The Council is committed to halving the amount of energy it was using in 1990 by 2025 and aims to get 20% of all its energy from renewable systems by 2020. For many years Leicester City Council has played an active role in encouraging and supporting measures that protect the environment. This was recognised in 1990, when Leicester became Britain’s first ‘Environment City’. Leicester City Council has since adopted a number of ‘green’ policies, ensuring that its own services and activities meet the high standards it encourages others to adopt.

In the past, Leicester City Council’s energy monitoring system has been based around data provided by the utilities. However, this type of system can only detect an increase in consumption two or three months after it occurs. Also, the deregulation of the energy market has made it more difficult to obtain accurate, reliable energy data and manual reading of meters presents a practical problem. To overcome these difficulties, the Council’s Energy Management Team investigated intelligent metering systems that could capture real-time data.

Building details

Number and type of building : Leicester City Council’s building stock is extremely varied and includes sports and leisure facilities, schools, offices, libraries, museums, district heating for housing estates, community homes and businesses. The Energy Management Team administers more than 3,000 individual energy accounts.

Project Description

Aim The aim of this project was to install an intelligent metering and monitoring system as a procedure for detecting (and helping diagnose) wasteful use of energy, water and other consumables. Close monitoring of these resources is absolutely essential if costs and consumption are to be controlled properly. Monitoring and target-setting represents a very low cost method of saving energy and other consumables and yields a very high rate of success.
Key points After reviewing different options, it was decided that the Data Bird System would be installed. This system uses low-power radio to automatically transmit meter readings to a central receiver/data logger, thus avoiding the need for hard-wiring. There are seven strategically placed central data loggers/receivers and 293 local loggers throughout Leicester. The system measures half-hourly data for electricity, gas, water, heat and temperature. The meter reading data is then automatically downloaded to a computer at the Council’s Energy Efficiency Centre, where it is analysed.

The monitoring system provides invaluable information that assists with exception reporting, standard reporting, bill validation, supply negotiations and benchmarking. The system also empowers building users to make informed operational, maintenance and investment decisions.

_ Specific features of the monitoring system include :

Automatic meter-reading/data collection and validation

  • Highlights immediate problems
  • Indicates faults rather than excessive consumption

_ Meter-reading profiling and analysis

  • Shows day peaks and night/weekend lows
  • Reveals leaks/wastage
  • Monitoring against historical targets or theoretical guidelines. Consumption related to weather, occupancy, production or a signature of past consumption profiles.

_ Reports regularly and on an exception basis

  • Trends that fall out of tolerance are immediately flagged up

_ Easy import and export of data

  • Data and reports can be saved in other formats enabling information to be sent electronically

_ Finance module allows production of bills

  • Enables Leicester City Council to recharge tenants for their individual usage.

_ The system continuously learns the signature consumption profile of a building, using the shape of the past consumption profile. The signature profile is then used to predict future consumption and to set consumption targets. Alarms are triggered based on deviations from signature targets, weather-dependent targets and constant targets.

_ The two examples described below show how signature profiles are used to set target consumption levels for energy and water.

_ The first example concerns electricity consumption at the Leicester City Council Offices at 16 New Walk. In the graph below, the red line shows actual electricity consumption and the green line shows target consumption or the ‘signature profile’ for the building, based on historical trends. A system alarm is set to activate if actual consumption is 15% or more above the target. In this case, the alarm was triggered when electrical equipment was left on over the weekend.

The second example concerns water consumption at Granby Primary School. Once again, an alarm was activated when actual water consumption greatly exceeded target consumption because taps were left on over the weekend.

The intelligent metering system also enables baseload analysis to compare consumption of gas, electricity and water over unoccupied and occupied periods. In the example below, Bridge Junior School had very high baseload water consumption. This indicated that there was a leak in the water system. As can be seen in the graph, fixing this leak dramatically reduced the baseload consumption and resulted in a saving of 9,638 cubic metres of water and €22,720 (£15,420) per year.

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example This Shining Example demonstrates the many benefits of intelligent metering and monitoring systems. By providing immediate feedback on energy and water consumption, wasteful consumption is easily identified and can then be reduced. It also provides feedback on the effect of implementing energy and water efficient measures. Information provided by the monitoring system has several other beneficial uses such as enabling accurate reporting, bill validation, benchmarking, assisting supply negotiations and informing operational, maintenance and investment decisions.


Costs &


The city-wide intelligent metering system was initially funded by Leicester City Council’s energy rebate scheme. Under this scheme, a fixed charge is added to the charge per unit of consumption for gas and electricity for all of the Council’s departments and buildings. This charge is then recovered by the Council every six months and used to fund the operation of the Energy Management Team (which has responsibility for delivering energy and water efficiency improvements for Leicester City Council’s own buildings) and energy efficient investments such as the intelligent metering system. By investing in the intelligent metering system, the Council has attracted funding from external sources :

  • Carbon Trust’s Advanced Metering for Energy Savings (Pilot Project) subsidy for 50 sites (note : The Carbon Trust is an independent company funded by the UK Government, which works with UK businesses and the public sector to cut carbon emissions and develop commercial low carbon technologies).
  • Intelligent Energy Europe funding under the SAVE Programme for an ‘Intelligent Metering’ project (financial support towards developing tools/training materials, case studies, etc. ; for 26 sites on the project).

_ The intelligent metering system has also helped to secure additional funding for other energy and water efficiency projects, because it is a tool that can be used to demonstrate energy and water savings.

Benefits Installing the intelligent metering and monitoring system has helped Leicester City Council to reduce the energy and water use of the buildings that they are responsible for, thereby saving money and reducing CO2 emissions.

_ Further benefits of the intelligent metering system include :

  • Automatic collection of meter readings
  • Automatic analysis of data to identify exceptions
  • Simple/graphic presentation of energy and water data
  • Timely and accurate energy management information
  • Better information/customised advice
  • Can verify savings as a result of energy and water efficiency improvements
  • Bill validation/verification
  • Enables setting of benchmarks

_ The intelligent metering system makes it very easy to produce accurate Display® Certificates, and to update the Certificates each year. So far, 90 Display® Certificates have been produced for Leicester City Council buildings. The metering system also presents several opportunities, such as :

  • Ability to self-bill for energy and water
  • Negotiate better rates for energy and water
  • Identify buildings that require energy efficiency improvements
  • Encourage and stimulate energy efficiency investment
  • Pro-active maintenance using energy data
  • Streamline energy and water monitoring
  • Change behavioural attitudes with a view to adopting a more sustainable lifestyle.

_ The graph below shows the progressive benefits of the system over time :


Partnership details Unique to Leicester is the Energy Centre, established in 1998 and attracting over 5,000 visitors annually. This Centre incorporates Leicester City Council’s Energy Management Team, the Energy Efficiency Advice Centre and the Leicester Energy Agency :

  • The Energy Management Team has responsibility for delivering energy and water efficiency improvements for Leicester City Council’s own buildings.
  • The Energy Efficiency Advice Centre provides free, impartial advice on all aspects of energy use for the public sector as well as selling a range of energy efficient products and services.
  • The Leicester Energy Agency is a partnership between the City Council and De Montfort University. The Agency is there to provide practical assistance to homes and businesses (small to medium enterprises) on energy-related matters.

_ This ‘One-Stop-Shop’ puts Leicester at the leading edge of sustainable energy because of the synergies that come from working together.


Achievements The intelligent metering and monitoring system has been installed in 293 locations throughout Leicester.

_ As well as the direct benefits of the intelligent metering system, installing the system has indirectly helped Leicester City Council to achieve several other successes. For example, Leicester City Council was awarded ‘Beacon’ status for sustainable energy. The Beacon Scheme identifies excellence and innovation in local government. The scheme exists to share good practice so that ’best value’ authorities can learn from each other and deliver high quality services to all.

_ Also, having the metering and monitoring infrastructure in place and the relevant expertise of staff has enabled the Council to gain funding from several programmes, such as Intelligent Energy Europe and the Carbon Trust (as discussed above) and become involved in projects, which would not have been possible otherwise.

_ The system has also enabled the Council to negotiate with their energy supplier for lower baseload energy prices.
Lessons Learned Key issues

The biggest problem encountered with installing the intelligent metering system was working with the utility companies and meter operators to get the meters installed into buildings. At one stage, the installation of more than 100 meters was delayed for a year. For some of the buildings, meters had to be installed outside the building. Technology constraints were encountered with outdoor meters, resulting in data being lost or corrupt.

_ Replication

Several other local authorities in the United Kingdom are now piloting intelligent metering systems. The market for these systems is now bigger, providing greater choice of systems.

To know more



Leicester City Council
Contact Prakash Patel
Phone +44 (0)116 299 5142

Arrangements to visit Contact Prakash Patel

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