American Utility Management (AUM) began installation of its HVACheque submetering system at The Versailles On The Lakes apartment development in Schaumburg, Ill. RMK Management Corp - a Chicago-based apartment developer and manager that operates the high-end, 618-unit complex - will use the system to help recover escalating utility expenses and to encourage more responsible utility usage by apartment residents.

The system measures individual usage of central heat and air conditioning to charge residents for actual usage, rather than bundling projected costs for the entire property into resident base rents.

"Centralized HVAC systems use a great deal of energy, and the challenge of predicting resident usage and projecting costs has gotten greater over the years," says Anthony Rossi, RMK Management president. "When the prices of electricity and gas were relatively low, it wasn't as hard to factor into the base rent. Even if you miscalculated, the margin of error wasn't that significant. Today, with utility prices rising, that's no longer the case."

Submetering for actual usage billing is almost universally prevalent in the natural gas and electricity utility arena and is gaining popularity for billing water usage.

"Submetering any utility is the fairest and most equitable way to make residents directly responsible for their individual usage, and the multifamily housing industry is really embracing the concept," says AUM President Stephen Vincent.