Case Study: BTU Metering System in a University

Onicon Flow Meters at the University of South Florida

Onicon Flow Meters at the University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is one of the twenty largest universities in the United States. Like many large campuses, a central energy plant with chilled water and hot water distribution throughout the campus provides heating and cooling to over eighty buildings. Undertaking a large BTU Metering System in a University for over 4.3 million square feet of conditioned space was no easy task for Onicon Flow and Energy Measurement.


USF did not have a comprehensive method of measuring actual energy usage in individual buildings. While some buildings had meters of various types in place, most did not. Internal utility bills were based on square footage of conditioned space. This “fixed cost” method offered no incentive for energy conservation by individual departments. In addition, the Physical Plant Department was tasked with managing vast resources with insufficient information regarding their use.


The first phase of the metering program targeted the Residence Halls. USF has over 900,000 square feet dedicated to student housing. A total of fifty-six BTU Measurement Systems were installed in twenty-one

F1200 Onicon FLow Meter

buildings. While most buildings required two systems, one for HW and one for CHW, several of the larger dorms were built with multiple feeds from the central chilled and hot water mains. These buildings required more than one set of meters.


USF and ONICON worked very closely to ensure a successful installation of the equipment and implementation of the project. Bowen Ierna, Project Manager with Onicon said, “We felt that it was very important to be closely involved with USF through all phases of the project, including the initial planning.”

Most of the buildings are over twenty years old and were constructed without provision for submetering. Small, cramped mechanical rooms typically pose a challenge to flow measurement due to the lack of available straight pipe run required to maintain accuracy. During the planning stage, a field engineer from the factory surveyed each proposed meter site and marked the pipes for insulation removal and tapping locations. For locations with poor flow conditions due to limited straight pipe runs, ONICON’s patented Dual Turbine Flow Meters were specified to maintain high accuracy.


USF and Onicon were able to design and implement solutions without affecting the project schedule. The close working relationship allowed the project to be completed on time and within budget.

The installation of the BTU Metering System in a University provides critical information needed for the planning of future campus development while providing accurate billing for them. The new systems also promote energy conservation by identifying problem areas and large energy users. The University of South Florida is continuing to install BTU measurement systems throughout the rest of the campus.


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