An August 11, 2021 article on themarketwriteup.com stated “Energy Management Systems for Healthcare Market to See Huge Growth by 2026.” That’s great news for those of us that service the utility bill accounting and energy management needs of the healthcare space. It means that a high number of large, complex organizations are searching for a solution that will help them conserve energy, meet sustainability goals, and lower energy costs.
If you’re leading or participating in that EMIS search and evaluation process, following are nine features that should be included on your “Functional Requirements” list:1. Provide integrated tracking of external utility bills and internal chargebacks.
Chargebacks are also referred to as cost or usage allocations, re-billings, and/or distributions. Those terms can refer to a process by which energy provided for an organization by the energy vendor(s)—internal or external—is distributed to various departments or divisions within that organization. The individual departments or divisions are then assessed a fee for that energy. In practice, the organization’s Facilities or Accounting department often becomes the local energy “vendor” for the rest of the campus.
Because chargebacks include energy use and energy cost, they represent an intersection of accounting and energy management needs for a campus-type organization.2. Allow you to create chargebacks based on submeter readings and calculations.
There may be situations where some of your facility spaces are submetered and some are not. For example, you might have a complex of three buildings, two of which are submetered. The energy use of the third building could be calculated by subtracting the submetered use of the remaining buildings from the total energy supplied to the complex. So, the software needs to do more than just process the submeter data. You may want to use formulas for calculating the allocations.
3. Add administrative fees and surcharges to your chargeback transactions.
This is one way to help recover the cost of the submetering system and the software—an important part of the cost of doing the business of providing utilities for your internal customers.4. Accommodate percentage splits.
In many multi-use facilities, building wiring may make more granular submetering impractical, but there’s still value in allocating energy use and cost across different budget/GL codes. For example, if one building allocates 60% of the master bill to Maintenance & Grounds and 40% to Security Services based on square footage of occupied space, then you’ll want to create “tenant” bills for these departments based on their respective percentages of the master utility bills.5. Provide flexibility to track supplied energy and chargebacks without double-counting the use or cost in reports.
This can be trickier than it sounds.6. Allocate expenses related to energy generation.
This is important if your medical campus has a cogeneration plant. It is important to factor in more than the cost of kilowatt hours. There might be additional allocations of labor and maintenance, as well as capital costs that you are allowed to recover. But you need a way to do that.7. Seamlessly integrate with your accounting system.
To the degree that is desirable and necessary to avoid duplication of labor and provide for prompt handling of utility invoices externally and internally, you can incorporate the EMIS as the smart "front-end" to your accounts payable or general ledger system. In this scenario, utility bills are entered or imported into the EMIS when received, verified through EMIS audits, and presented for review and approval by the appropriate staff member(s). Upon approval, bill details are exported from the EMIS in a format that is import-ready for your AP or GL system.8. Provide an interface with ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager.
The interface alleviates the need to double-enter data into your EMIS and into Portfolio Manager and streamlines the process of obtaining ENERGY STAR building ratings.
For more information about best practices and desirable energy management software features, read our eBook, Making the Most of Your Medical Campus Energy Data, or contact us to discuss your specific utility bill accounting and energy management needs.