How Measurement & Verification Improves Performance of Energy Efficiency Projects
Improving energy efficiency is a critical aspect of decarbonisation. With the built environment accounting for roughly 40% of global greenhouse gas (Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere. They all have different global warming potentials (GWP) over different time frames, the higher the number, the worse the impact. For simplicity of accounting everything is referenced back to carbon dioxide which has a global warming potential of 1. There are over 200 GHGs listed in the IPCC fifth assessment report, a sample are below. Note that in current carbon accounting standards the 100 year GWP is used. Greenhouse gas 20 year GWP100 year GWPCarbon dioxide CO211Methane CH48428Hydrofluorocarbon HFC-134a37101300Chlorofluorocarbon CFC-1169004660Nitrous Oxide N2O264265Sulfur hexafluoride SF617,50023,500 More) emissions, there exists an extensive opportunity for energy efficiency improvements to strengthen building performance while using existing infrastructure. For businesses, implementing Energy Efficiency Measure (EEM) serves as a way to progress toward corporate emissions targets and reduce operational expenses. The allure of savings is enticing, but how can an organisation be certain of an EEM’s impact on energy and cost savings? That is where the measurement and verification (M&V) process comes into play.
Without measurement, it is impossible to track progress; without verifiable outcomes, it is less appealing to pursue improvement projects. With a strong M&V process, a business has a transparent and reliable system to determine the Electricity or gas savings or both. More — and therefore the cost savings — provided by an EEM. Having the system in place to quantify these savings often boosts EEM performance and enhances the business case for pursuing energy efficiency projects.
What is M&V
Measurement and verification (M&V) is a set of best practices and principles for planning, tracking, and analyzing data to verify and report on the energy savings of an individual facility resulting from implementing an EEM. Formed to promote energy efficiency measures as a means to decarbonise, the M&V methodology is a flexible and living system that has expanded over the decades to incorporate a wider audience and a greater variety of efficiency investments.
In 1997, an international collaboration of national organisations, industry, and individual experts led to the creation of the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (International Measurement and Verification Protocol More), which established an internationally recognised set of guidelines and procedures for M&V. Emerging as the Accreditation scheme for voluntary carbon offset and renewable energy projects. The tradable instruments are Verified Emission Reductions (VERs). The Gold Standard label can also be applied to CERs and I-RECs where the project meets the Gold Standard requirements around sustainable development and project additionality. More for M&V, the IPMVP presents a set of principles that are critical for any significant M&V process:
Following IPMVP principles and guidelines, each project must have a tailored M&V plan that encompasses the fundamental principles and is well-suited to provide reliable reporting on its energy-saving initiatives.
How Does The M&V Process Work
A reliable measurement of energy savings calculates the difference between baseline energy use and post-retrofit energy while also factoring in any meaningful adjustments:
Energy Savings = Baseline Energy Use – Post-retrofit Energy Use +/- Adjustments
Therefore, determining savings from an EEM requires a clear understanding of the energy use before and after project implementation. To gain this clarity, the M&V process begins well before project installation.
Once an energy efficiency project is determined (often after an energy audit to identify areas of opportunity for improved energy efficiency), the scope and boundary of the M&V process are defined to align with the EEM and the purpose for reporting.
There are four M&V options under the IMPVP:
- Option A – Retrofit isolation: key parameters: used to determine energy savings from a singular system, such as a lighting upgrade or single piece of equipment, where the energy performance can be measured and other stable parameters like operations can be specified (i.e., standard business hours apply before and after EEM installation)
- Option B – Retrofit isolation: all parameters measured: used to determine energy savings from a singular system, such as replacing a boiler, where the energy performance and operations can be measured
- Option C – Whole facility: used for a whole facility approach where one or multiple energy efficiency measures may affect the whole site, or where only site-level energy data is available
- Option D – Calibrated simulation: a calibrated simulation that applies Option C for situations when no historical energy use data is available (i.e., new development)
Homing in on the M&V option involves consideration of data availability and quality of the measurement boundary — whether it be around a single piece of equipment or the entire facility — as well as the interactive effects that may arise from the efficiency improvement measure.
In addition, it is critical to collect accurate baseline data. This ensures that the post-retrofit energy performance can be compared to a pre-installation data set to reliably determine EEM savings. The baseline energy use should be derived from a time period immediately before project implementation, and it should reflect a normal operating period that considers all operational modes of the facility. The post-retrofit period should also be determined prior to EEM implementation to ensure the reporting length, frequency, and scope align with the M&V process and provide accurate measurements for comparison against baseline conditions.
Considering external factors that impact energy use, it is also important to incorporate adjustments into the energy savings calculation that may have had a significant impact on energy use and demand. For instance, if post-retrofit reporting for an Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is the technology of indoor and vehicular environmental comfort. Its goal is to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality. More installation is conducted during an uncharacteristically hot year, then this weather factor needs to be considered as an adjustment to show that energy efficiency improved despite the rising utility costs resulting from increased HVAC use. Other adjustments to consider include changes in building occupancy, changes to the amount of space being heated or cooled and changes made to indoor environmental settings, etc.
How Does M&V Benefit Business
The M&V process instills best energy management practices that often translate to enhanced savings and improved financial opportunity. A well-established M&V process ensures proper performance measurement and also outlines how improved performance should look. This creates cohesion around the project and embeds a protocol for effective project design, operation, and maintenance that often leads to greater energy savings than would be experienced without an intact M&V process. Ultimately, this reduces risk around the project, strengthening the business case for the EEM.
Reduced risk from a strong M&V process makes it easier to secure financing, a pivotal aspect of implementing energy-efficient improvements. A strong, verifiable M&V process improves financial credibility. This instills confidence that savings will incur and increases the likelihood for an investor to consider such an energy project for their debt portfolios.
The energy savings from verifiable M&V processes can be rewarded with energy certificates. Depending on the location of an accredited project, Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs), NSW’s Energy Savings Certificates (ESCs), and Australian A certificate that is equivalent to 1 tonne CO2-e. Credits often refer to instruments issued under a cap and trade scheme, where companies are allocated credits up to their emission cap. If they exceed the cap they need to purchase more credits. More Units (ACCUs) can be created from the project’s delivered energy savings.
How Northmore Gordon Can Help
At the heart of Northmore Gordon is a large team of Certified Measurement & Verification Professionals (CMVP®) who are eager to guide Australian businesses through the impactful M&V process so they can optimise the environmental and financial benefits associated with their energy efficiency projects. Our CMVPs are critical to successful compliant M&V modelling, statistical analysis, and detailed reports that are required for M&V under the The Emissions Reduction Fund is a voluntary scheme that aims to provide incentives for a range of organisations and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies to reduce their emissions. More, The NSW Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) provides financial incentives to install, improve or replace energy savings equipment and appliances in NSW households and businesses. The ESS was established in 2009. Financial incentives are in the form of tradeable certificates, called energy savings certificates (ESCs). Generally, householders and businesses who fund energy savings activities transfer the right to create ESCs to Accredited Certificate Providers (ACPs) in return for a discount on the cost of the energy savings activity. The MWh savings from the project determines the number of ESCs that can be created. The ESS works by allowing ACPs to create and register ESCs for energy savings that are supported with appropriate evidence. ESCs are then purchased each year by mainly electricity retailers operating in NSW to meet their share of a legislated annual energy savings target. More, & Victorian Energy Upgrades is a Victorian government energy efficiency program that gives every Victorian household and business the opportunity to receive rebates or discounts on energy saving products. More and numerous international programs.
Coupling our M&V expertise, regulatory knowledge, and our in-depth understanding of energy usage in C&I environments allows our consultants to identify the parameters that drive energy usage or carbon emissions. This allows us to build the highest quality compliant models and maximise the savings or abatement.
A partnership with Northmore Gordon removes the stress and hassle of establishing an M&V process, helping businesses streamline their energy management approach, strengthen business performance, and create energy certificates from their project’s delivered energy savings.