Understanding How Covid-19 Impacts Measurement and Verification (M&V)

Measurement and verification - M&V - Northmore Gordon

Effective data provides key insight. Diligent monitoring promotes performance.  

Similarly, Measurement & Verification protocol assures performance of energy conservation measures (ECM) and significantly improves businesses’ capacity to realize energy savings —  savings that result in lower energy costs and fewer expenses on operations and maintenance.  

Alan Wang - Northmore Gordon
Alan Wang – Principal Energy Consultant

Considering the pivotal role that Measurement and Verification (M&V) plays in guaranteeing energy and cost savings, it’s important to maintain the diligence, rigor, and transparency that make M&V so reliable and effective.  

Given the worldwide disturbance caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we want to share insight from one of Northmore Gordon’s Principal Energy Consultants, Alan Wang. Interviewed last week, Wang addresses the importance of recognizing Covid’s impact on M&V and what we can expect for its future. 

Q: FIRST, WHAT DOES M&V ENTAIL?  

AW — An M&V method is a well-defined, transparent means of measuring and verifying performance of an energy conservation measure (ECM) so as to identify the true energy savings the ECM brings the facility. Using a statistically valid modelling approach — such as linear regression modelling or estimate of the mean to model baseline conditions — M&V reveals true energy savings of an ECM under normal operating conditions of the facility.  
 

Q: WHAT ARE THE RELEVANT STANDARDS FOR M&V?  

AW — M&V measures must adhere to rigorous and well-defined standards in order to maintain reliability and credibility. The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) has become the international gold standard for M&V. The IPMVP offers a versatile and flexible framework which allows for energy consumption estimates to be made using a proxy. This, however, is not permitted under any of the Australian M&V measures.  

In New South Wales, the Energy Savings Scheme (ESS) uses a couple of methods (PIAMV and MBM) which are both M&V based but operate under stricter guidelines than the IPMVP. Under Victoria’s Victorian Energy Upgrades, there is a similar M&V based program known as Project Based Activity (PBA).  

Q: HOW HAVE THE M&V METHODS RESPONDED TO COVID?  

AW — IPMVP released a Covid guide late last year which has enabled businesses to adopt adjusted guidelines for their Covid impacted facilities. The IPMVP Covid guidelines allow businesses to be flexible with their ‘Covid impacted period,’ allowing businesses to backcast or forecast the Covid impacted period to baseline or operating conditions so as to minimise the issues coming from Covid between those affected dates.  

In Victoria, there was a six-month delay for the release of the finalized Covid guidelines. That put a delay on the release of M&V certifications, some of which were delayed by as much as 18 months.  

New South Wales was not heavily impacted by Covid. There were few cases, but we do anticipate consultation for Covid guidelines to start in the near future and for final guideline papers to be released in the first half of 2022.  

Q: HOW HAS COVID IMPACTED CONDUCTING M&V FOR INDUSTRIAL BUSINESSES?   

AW — The widespread impact Covid had on consumer lifestyle caused significant changes in industrial production. Some manufacturers needed to increase production to match growing demand while others decreased production in response to lower demand or disruptions in their supply chain.  

For example, one of our clients is a coffee pod manufacturer that saw a 400% increase in production because of heightened demand for coffee at home. Although this was great for the manufacturer’s revenue, the production increase posed a huge problem for M&V measures. The increased production heavily skewed the amount of energy consumption per product produced, lowering our confidence in the energy KPI. This abnormal production volume necessitated some timeline adjustments to the baseline and operating period in order to claim the savings of the certificates, and not all anticipated credits could be claimed.   

In another example, an abattoir experienced reduced production and delayed fuel delivery. Without normally delivered fuel, the abattoir went through month-long stretches without showing much fuel consumption. This change in activity significantly impacted the energy KPI, making M&V measures a real challenge. 

Q: HOW HAS COVID IMPACTED CONDUCTING M&V AT BUILT ENVIRONMENT SETTINGS?  

AW — With lockdowns instituted during Covid, many people were not going into work at retail settings. In several cases, a lower occupancy led to decreases in energy consumption, which resulted in M&V delays in order to gather sufficient data to assess true energy savings from the ECM.  

It’s easier to anticipate the impact of Covid on built environment settings than on industrial operations because occupancy is the primary factor impacting built environment whereas the industrial sector is affected by a wide range of interconnected variables that are difficult to predict. 

Covid does impose a number of challenges for M&V. Fortunately, there are different modelling techniques and other flexible guidelines which allow M&V experts to adjust timelines and carry out their Measurement and Verification measures.  

There will be issues going forward as Covid persists, but energy efficiency improvements are arguably the most impactful start for businesses striving to reduce energy demand, save money, and lower their carbon emissions.  

At Northmore Gordon, we are well aware of the challenges, and we are ready to help businesses carry out energy conservation measures and the appropriate M&V method to make sure they effectively decarbonize and capture their true energy savings. 

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