By Jason Hartke

We know that measuring and verifying energy savings, affectionately known as M&V, is important. But, when you consider that 1-5% of total project costs go to this effort and that $7 billion is spent a year on utility demand side management programs, we see the enormous value of improving our approach to M&V, which could save hundreds of millions of dollars and unleash the potential of smart meters, smart devices, and advanced analytical tools.

By harnessing innovations in energy data and analytics, M&V is poised for a significant market upgrade. Dubbed “M&V 2.0,” the Department of Energy (DOE) is working to usher in a new era of M&V marked by automated, meter-based approaches that have the potential to save significantly on time and money, and incidentally match or increase accuracy.

For the past few years, the DOE, in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), has been working to develop sophisticated testing protocols to evaluate new, automated M&V 2.0 methods. Early tests and research show that this automated measurement approach can predict savings at 95% confidence and with acceptable levels of uncertainty – much higher than ASHRAE requirements. Some of these findings have been published, with key principles being transferred to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency’s Whole Building Committee.

“M&V 2.0 tools hold real promise for streamlining the process of savings estimation. It is an exciting time, as the industry is beginning to capitalize on the power of analytics technologies – both to enable savings, and also to quantify them,” said Jessica Granderson, research scientist and deputy of research programs for the Building Technology Division at LBNL.

Recently, DOE’s M&V 2.0 effort, which is leveraging meter and software-based approaches to help track savings as they accrue throughout the performance period, is being picked up by key partners. In the northeast, Efficiency Vermont is working with DOE to develop an M&V 2.0 platform based on open-source algorithms that automatically model an existing-use whole building energy baseline and then compute metrics to determine the model’s goodness of fit to the metered data. This work is helping confirm the performance of M&V 2.0, which could then be applied to Efficiency Vermont’s future use in commercial programs.

In the northwest, BC Hydro is also exploring M&V 2.0, testing and developing software functionality that would allow it to create a customer-facing analytical tool. By utilizing M&V 2.0 techniques, BC Hydro can provide commercial customers individual savings insights without having to send an M&V agent to evaluate each facility.

Taken together, these advancements demonstrate the opportunity we have to increase market adoption of meter-based approaches for determining energy efficiency savings while also saving money and time.