Smart meters: the basis for active resource management

Buildings today have to do far more than just provide space. They have to be flexible, energy efficient and productive. At the same time, they have to meet the latest ESG standards. Data offers the key to uncovering energy-efficiency potential. Yet simply collecting data is not enough. Not knowing when, where and why buildings use a certain amount of certain kinds of energy renders many energy-saving measures ineffective.

Digital solutions help us to actively manage our properties, identify potential for optimisation and take measures with both a financial and environmental impact in the interest of our tenants. For us, transparency when it comes to our properties’ consumption data plays an essential role in analysing potential. That’s why the combination of smart meters and central platform providers is of fundamental importance to us in consolidation, analysis and management.

Jürgen Zeller Real Estate Services Management

More and more, digital consumption data plays a critical role in success!

Transparency when it comes to buildings’ consumption data is the very foundation for future-focused management of resource consumption. Having the most precise and up-to-date knowledge of what is going on in buildings gives property owners the tools they need to leverage potential for savings and successfully reduce carbon emissions.

Let us take a closer look at the energy transition and sustainability in the building sector. When we do, the term smart meters comes up again and again. This technology is an essential yet seemingly small element that touches on two megatrends: digitalisation and sustainability.


A smart meter is a digital electricity, heat or water meter that can be read remotely. Due to EU law and national legislation (such as the Energy Efficiency Directive, the German Heating Cost Directive and the Metering Point Operations Act), such meters are due to replace some 95% of all conventional ones in buildings by 2032.


Whereas existing conventional meters only provide information relating to the point in time at which they are read, smart meters record actual consumption and the corresponding times and duration. Through a communication unit, the devices are capable of making the collected data available digitally in real time, resulting in three benefits:

  • The increasing use of renewable energy leads to more frequent fluctuations in feed-in, as sun and wind are not reliable suppliers of power at every moment in time. The information provided by smart meters enables electricity and heat grid operators to manage and balance out generation and current consumption, which keeps grids stable for consumers.
  • With regard to buildings themselves, consumption data that can be analysed makes it possible to identify and leverage energy-efficiency potential. That transforms conventional meters, which have historically been used solely to bill owners and tenants for consumption, into a tool for advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • Consumption data can be processed without delay, and without manual recording errors, in the downstream value chain to inform tenants, draw up operating cost invoices or provide other statistics required by law, to name just a few examples.
Smart Meter Voices Graphic Today
Smart meter voices graphic tomorrow

Targeted asset management with regard to carbon emissions and energy consumption

Another look at the latest developments in the real estate sector reveals a fourth major benefit of smart meters. The European goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 is giving rise to a variety of EU-level standards and requirements across many industries that actively focus on reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency. At the same time, the reporting obligations on such subjects are being enhanced. In the real estate sector, these changes are laying bare a deficit that has been known for years, but has largely been neglected: data on the actual resource consumption of properties is rarely strategically recorded and used. Here too, the use of smart meters plays a pivotal role in offering a solution. Smart meters help to pave the way for managing property portfolios with the climate in mind.

The challenge when it comes to using remotely read meters on a wide scale is not so much the installation of devices as it is recording the available energy consumption data in a single place and consolidating it in a way that offers benefits. Doing so allows us to calculate energy intensity and carbon emissions precisely and largely in real time, making it possible to identify savings potential and quickly take targeted reduction measures. Concurrently, that data forms the foundation for meeting market-related and regulatory standards with regard to KPI-based sustainability reporting, such as the Principle Adverse Impact indicators under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. Deka Immobilien pursues this approach as part of its sustainability strategy.

In terms of Deka Immobilien’s own portfolio, digitally recorded data will be used primarily to identify energy-efficiency potential within properties. For our tenants, our aim in doing so is to continue offering future-ready rental opportunities with attractive net leases and operating expenses despite any further rises in energy costs. In addition, we will use this approach to lower our properties’ carbon emissions, which helps tenants that have their own sustainability standards while also reducing the environmental footprint of our funds in the interest of our investors. The reduction of carbon emissions should be more than just a coincidental knock-on effect, however. Instead, a digital system will be used to proactively plan carbon emissions and continuously compare them with the global carbon budget available for the building portfolio.

The single source of truth – developing a standardised foundation of data

When it comes to Deka Immobilien’s international real estate portfolio, rolling out the digital recording of consumption data and consolidating it in a single place is an incredibly many-faceted task. The degree of technical advancement and digitalisation varies tremendously depending on the country, year of construction and type of use. On the one hand, some buildings feature a fully integrated system of digital meters that can be read locally on site using a building control system. On the other hand, some buildings are equipped with only a central conventional meter for invoicing in cooperation with local utilities. To support a centralised approach, Deka Immobilien has started replacing conventional meters with smart meters at such properties. In some cases, the company is digitally recording readings and consolidating the largely heterogeneous data on a standardised basis through the platform provider BAScloud.

Smart meter data flow via the BAS Cloud

Flow of data through the BAScloud

The platform features definable quality assurance options for the received data, sufficiently high capacity in the database for the quantity of data anticipated through the large portfolio and standardised consolidation functions. An IT interface ensures the exchange of data among all stakeholders, from tenants and property managers to energy providers. Over time, that will make the database the central single source of truth for all digitalised resource data pertaining to the global real estate portfolio. Roughly 290 buildings are connected to the system in Germany alone, with an additional 40 in France. Other countries in Europe and beyond will be continually integrated through specific projects that address individual local needs.

To live up to the integrated approach embodied by Deka Immobilien’s sustainability strategy, we and our partners are preparing to automatically record the waste generated at our buildings using digital scales, in addition to traditional consumption parameters such as electricity, gas, district heat and drinking water. In doing so, we aim to gain a better understanding of the resulting resource consumption and take measures to manage waste more efficiently and avoid waste on a targeted basis. This topic in particular requires joint efforts in cooperation with our tenants that we look forward to rolling out.

Implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

7 Affordable and clean energy

The buildings are intelligently connected to energy grids through the use of smart meters and contribute to the stable distribution of energy from renewable sources.

11 Sustainable cities and communities

Real-time knowledge of consumption makes it possible to distribute energy resiliently and efficiently within cities in a manner tailored to needs.

13 Climate action

The installation of smart metering systems is one of the building blocks for reducing our portfolio’s greenhouse gas emissions.