Implementing a Measurement and Verification Plan to Meet Facility Sustainability Goals

February 5, 2014 at 1:14 am  •  Posted in Success Stories  •  0 Comments

The effects of big data and its influence on organizational decision making can be seen in almost every aspect of business, from information technology to marketing and human resources. Building and facilities management is no exception. Technological advances in monitoring tools and software allow facility managers access to vast amounts of data about a building’s energy use. But how can managers use this data to operate a facility at peak efficiency?

Enter the measurement and verification (M&V) plan. Measurement and verification is the process by which facility stakeholders track the performance of a piece of equipment, a system, or an entire facility. Performance is measured against past, estimated or performance of another piece of equipment, system or facility. This approach gives higher visibility into detailed energy usage data, which can then be used to identify opportunities for increased efficiency, enable better decision making and increase ROI on existing and new equipment installations.

Measurement and verification is the process by which facility stakeholders track the performance of a piece of equipment, a system, or an entire facility.

While the energy landscape continues to evolve, facilities managers are faced with a different and evolving set of energy management challenges today. As a result, measurement and verification is essential for increasing energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact in an ever-changing energy marketplace.

Why should facilities managers implement M&V plans?

As the focus on driving more efficient operations and facilities continues, stakeholders are actively collecting energy usage data. While this is a great first step, the key is turning it into actionable intelligence.

This is where measurement and verification plans come in. Measurement and verification allows for a more holistic approach at building efficiency. For example, inefficient lighting can have a drastic effect on overall building energy use.

According to ENERGY STAR, lighting takes a larger share of a building’s electricity use than any other single end use—more than 35 percent.  However, lighting energy use can be cut in at least half, while maintaining or even improving lighting quality. By implementing an M&V plan, managers can create benchmarks with energy usage data and identify opportunities for savings at a system level, a zone level, and even the circuit and plug level.

Steps for Implementing an M&V Plan

There are six fundamental steps to defining and implementing a measurement and verification plan, which can be adapted for existing, upgraded or new facilities:

Define a baseline

To define a baseline against which energy usage will be measured, estimate energy performance for the individual systems. This can be done using historical data, manufacturer’s specifications, engineer judgment or actual metering values. However, provided lighting controls are installed, actual metering values will provide the most accurate baseline.  

Define the ECMs and estimate initial savings

Now that a baseline is established, the actual energy conservation measures (ECM’s) need to be defined. An ECM is the actual product or technology that will reduce energy usage in a facility. Initial savings should also be estimated in this step. This compares the baseline to the building’s energy profile once the ECMs are implemented.

Define the M&V approach

Perhaps the most important factor in choosing an option is determining existing metering and measurement capabilities. Ideally, metered site data is collected from lighting controls or software to measure both baseline and performance period conditions. This data will then determine savings.

However, for retrofit lighting projects, parameters like fixture power, hours of operation, and level of coincident operation can also be used. In any approach, facilities managers should strive to have accurate data for baseline and performance period measurement, to produce the most accurate savings figures.

Verify proper installation and commissioning of ECMs

Once the first three steps are completed, ECMs can be installed. Typically, ECMs are seen in the form of water, electricity and gas.

Determine actual savings

Actual savings resulting from the installation of the ECMs is determined based on the agreed M&V approach. Facilities managers can use this data to communicate ROI and identify opportunities for additional savings.

Re-evaluation program at scheduled intervals

Once the M&V plan is fully implemented, it is important to re-evaluate at scheduled intervals. This will ensure that savings are being maintained and that data collected will continue to present new energy savings opportunities.

M&V and Sustainability Goals

Technological advancements in energy management software have made it easier to accurately meter, monitor and measure energy usage in order to meet sustainability goals. For example, outside factors that can affect lighting energy usage – such as sunlight or clouds, changing hours of operation, or a repurposing of a space – are automatically accounted for. By removing the guesswork, data can be used to continue or increase savings, and provide a case for future sustainability initiatives.

When combined with ECMs, energy management software not only provides vast amounts of data, but connects all sustainability efforts together to show progress on overall energy usage goals. For example, combining panel boards with software monitoring allows managers to measure energy levels at individual branch circuits, ideal for pinpointing problems and troubleshooting areas for improvement. Managers also have access to a macro-level view of up to 84 circuits, ideal for everyday monitoring and benchmarking.

This real-time analysis for both detailed and holistic energy usage data can be turned into actionable data, resulting in higher ROI and further increasing energy savings. Lighting is also connected to the broader energy management strategy, and it becomes easier to show when sustainability goals are met.

Measurement and verification planning allows for the long-term planning of a building or facility. Adapting the use of big data into facilities management does not have to be an arduous undertaking.

By implementing a proper measurement and verification plan, energy usage data is easily turned into actionable intelligence, providing an accurate definition of costs savings and reduced environmental impact.

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