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Measuring and Verifying (M&V) Efficiency Projects

When measuring and verifying efficiency projects, it is not enough to simply review year-over-year utility bills (e.g. July this year vs. July last year).  Several factors may have changed that can have huge impacts on the energy conservation measure (ECM) performance: occupancy (offices, hospitals, hotels, schools, etc.), production (manufacturing, industrial), operating schedules, weather, etc.  The measurement and verification of efficiency projects is part science, part art, and is critical in determining the energy, water, and cost savings that result from the installation of ECMs.  Read on for an overview of measurement and verification, guidelines that apply, where M&V is recommended and/or required, and the benefits of measuring and verifying your efficiency projects.

What is M&V?

Measurement and verification is the process of quantifying the energy and cost savings resulting from ECMs, which can include new equipment (e.g. high-efficiency chillers, LED lights, low flow toilets, etc.), operational changes (e.g. temperature set points, night ventilation, pre-cooling, etc.), controls (energy management systems, automated temperature adjustments, etc.), and other energy saving projects.  Savings cannot be directly measured since they represent the absence of energy use. Instead, savings are determined by comparing measured use before and after implementation of a project, making appropriate adjustments for changes in conditions.

Energy use before the ECM (aka the baseline) is compared against energy use after (aka the performance period, reporting period), with routine and non-routine adjustments for the factors mentioned above (occupancy, production, weather, etc.).

Savings = (Baseline Period Energy – Reporting Period Energy) ± Adjustments

m&v efficiency projects

M&V Guidelines:

Thankfully, we’re not flying blind when attempting M&V analyses.  The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) provides a framework and standard for M&V, while ASHRAE Guideline 14 provides specific procedures for using measured pre-retrofit and post-retrofit billing data (kWh, kW, etc.) for the calculation of savings, as well as benchmarks for analysis of model fit and uncertainty.

When is M&V recommended?

When there is no need to prove results to another party (e.g. your boss, the CEO, investors, tenants, etc.), then measuring and verifying efficiency projects may not be necessary.  However, we have never encountered a situation where ECM results did not have to be at least discussed, let alone proven within an acceptable level of uncertainty.  Generally, the larger and more complex the project(s), the more necessary M&V becomes.  Per the US DOE Federal Energy Management Program guidelines, “M&V effort should be scaled to the value of the project so that the value of the information provided by the M&V activity is appropriate to the value of the ECM and the project itself”.

Where is M&V required?

Anytime performance/savings are guaranteed by a contractor or technology, then M&V should be required.  Below are some examples:

  • Federal Energy Savings Performance Contracts – M&V is required to be performed on an annual basis
  • Efficiency financing and shared savings arrangements – if a company is providing “no cost” upgrades and is paid a percentage of measured savings/cost avoidance, then there should be an agreed upon M&V plan that allocates risks appropriately (both contractor/technology risks and end user risks)
  • Utility incentive money – when doling out taxpayer or ratepayer efficiency funds, M&V should be required to ensure performance and achievement of reduction goals

M&V Benefits:

Whether recommended or required, measurement and verification processes provide benefits well beyond their costs (which are typically 2-5% of projected annual savings):

  • Allocate risks between the contractor and the customer
  • Accurately assess energy savings and persistence of savings for a project
  • Reduce uncertainties to reasonable levels
  • Aid in monitoring equipment performance
  • Identify additional savings
  • Improve operations and maintenance (O&M)

How can EnergyWatch help with M&V?

Led by an Association of Energy Engineers Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP), EnergyWatch offers M&V services to its clients and partners through our watchwire platform, where meter readings and any necessary independent variable(s) data are integrated and analyzed to automate your M&V calculations and simplify your energy savings reporting.  We act as an independent third party to analyze your project(s) and help explain results to interested parties.  Reach out today to learn more.