Measurement and Verification of Energy Savings in a New Technology Environment
Today’s technologies automate the collection, storage and retrieval of data from across multiple buildings and building subsystems. Technology makes that data available to decision-makers from the C-level, to facility managers, to occupants, informing decisions that improve building efficiency. In particular, technology is greatly improving the measurement and verification (M&V) of savings from energy efficiency investments. The Institute for Building Efficiency’s three-part series reviews how technology is changing the way energy savings are tracked and performance is managed and measured:
Building IT: The Intelligent Energy Management Triangle – What are the technologies used in high-performance buildings, and what building performance information can technology provide to decision-makers?
Measurement and Verification: How Technology Can Change the Game – What is changing today in the use of technology to verify energy savings, and where will we go from here?
Data-Driven M&V to Support New Financing Possibilities – With better data on energy savings and technology performance, will the financial community be able to scale up energy efficiency financing?
Building IT: The Intelligent Energy Management Triangle
Information technology adds intelligence to buildings from design to the end of the building’s life. The first paper in this series reviews the technologies that make a building smart and discusses how these newly automated tools enable improved performance through information.
The paper discusses the three key IT functions that form the Intelligent Energy Management Triangle:
Energy information. Dashboards display data such load profile analysis, energy usage benchmarking, utility rate benchmarking, and energy budget tracking.
Fault detection and diagnostics. FDD saves energy by quickly identifying inefficiencies and operational problems, helping managers achieve and sustain high performance.
Measurement and verification of savings. Verification of savings from energy efficiency projects helps validate project investments and in some contract structures may determine the payment to the energy service provider that did the work.
Measurement and Verification: How Technology Can Change the Game
The next paper in the series takes a deep dive into M&V. Current approaches to M&V have served the building efficiency industry well, but changes driven by technology are creating a need for new and updated M&V education materials, standards and certification programs.
Just as technology has changed industries like finance, automotive and healthcare, it can help improve accuracy and confidence in M&V while driving down its cost. For example:
Low-cost meters, advanced building sensors, and greater connectivity between building and business systems will create an explosion of data for use by building information systems.
M&V applications using advanced statistical-based analytics will dramatically lower M&V costs while increasing accuracy and functionality.
Integration of M&V with performance monitoring, fault detection and diagnostics, and energy information will leverage the technology investments and increase the value derived from the data.
Technology can make M&V plans simple, consistent and transparent, helping to quickly build and maintain high levels of trust between all parties involved with energy efficiency projects.
Data-Driven M&V to Support New Financing Possibilities
The third paper explores the role of energy information technology to support the measurement of energy savings as an enabler for funding energy efficiency projects. Third-party financing models like energy services agreements can help attract capital to building efficiency retrofits – but only if financiers can trust the savings projections on which the projects depend. Inspiring that trust will require accepted M&V protocols and a new level of information and analytics on which to base the projections.
Today’s building technologies make it possible to gather baseline energy data electronically and accurately project the impacts of energy efficiency improvements. Automated tools can make M&V less costly, as well as more accurate and technically sound – and thus make retrofit projects more appealing to financiers. Advantages of automated M&V include:
Greater transparency to all parties involved
Easy compliance with accepted M&V standards and protocols
More consistent results than with manual methods
Scalability of approach in multiple projects and settings
Automated M&V technologies can help remove long-standing financial barriers to investments in energy efficiency improvements worldwide.