London’s iconic Barbican, one of the best known performing arts centres in Europe, has specified the SIP Billing tenant billing system from Synapsys Solutions to help streamline utilities billing for some of its onsite restaurants.
Commercial landlords in a variety of sectors are increasingly switching to invoicing separately for rent and utilities, as a means of encouraging the tenant or user to take control of energy bills. This approach helps reduce on-site energy consumption and eliminates landlords’ risk of lost revenue through under-charging for actual use – and the Synapsys SIP Billing automatic tenant billing system makes it fast, easy and accurate.
Richard O’Callaghan, project manager at the Barbican, says: “We’d always had an energy management system on site, but we switched to the latest Trend BMS system around three years ago, as our previous set-up was becoming obsolete. The contractor carrying out this work suggested a SIP interface unit from Synapsys to help integrate the building systems on the new BMS system, such as heating and ventilation, with an energy monitoring and targeting package. This was how we first saw the Synapsys technology in action.” The updated BMS system incorporated the energy monitoring to help the Barbican identify where and when energy was being used, but at this stage there was no submetering, and the information available was limited when it came to fine detail.
In 2015 the on-site restaurant operators’ contracts came up for re-tender, and the new contracts made provision to reclaim energy costs from the tenants. With this type of landlord billing, it’s clearly in both parties’ interest to ensure that the utility invoices provided to tenants are timely and accurate. To put the new invoicing procedure in place, the Barbican opted to install SIPe energy monitoring and SIP Billing from Synapsys.
To operate the system to its full potential, and to give a sufficient level of detail in the data collected by the SIPe energy monitoring system, the first step was to submeter the restaurants. Around 15 points needed to be metered for two tenants, with utility costs to be split across three bills, as one of the operators runs a corporate events business in addition to the restaurant.
Synapsys specified and installed the meters, but this initial stage presented some unique challenges. Owned by Corporation of London, the Barbican is a relatively complex building, and works are restricted by its listed status. In addition, the solid concrete construction meant that drilling extra holes for wiring wasn’t feasible. Most wiring is carried through surface-mounted conduits, but systems had grown and developed organically over decades of use, and it wasn’t always easy to locate utility supplies.
Richard O’Callaghan adds: “We also had to plan installation work around the normal running of the restaurants. Most work was carried out in normal working hours, usually in the early mornings before the restaurants opened, but there were also some late nights.
“Synapsys handled it very well, the team there was very helpful and flexible. Careful planning was required for the project, and schedules often evolved as difficulties came to light. The Synapsys team was very accommodating, and we found them very good to work with.”
Once submetering was completed, the SIPe energy monitoring and SIP Billing systems were installed, with the controlling SIPe data logger unit located on the building’s top floor.
The billing service was soon up and running, with invoices from the system automatically sent to the Barbican finance office for checking and issuing as Barbican invoices. Operators now receive bills which clearly identify the electricity their units consume.
Synapsys continues to support the project. Since the commissioning of SIP Billing, a new distribution board has been installed and Synapsys engineers have returned to site to ensure the new board is correctly integrated with the system.