Advancing the game on M&V 2.0
Working Together to Advance the Game on Advanced Measurement and Verification Directions and Opportunities for “M&V 2.0” for Energy Savings
What can advanced Measurement and Verification (M&V) methods do that “traditional” methods can’t? What benefits do they provide, to whom, and at what costs? What is advanced M&V or “M&V 2.0,” and what makes it advanced? What is the realistic future for these methods and what is the current reality? What does the Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification (EM&V) industry need to do to bridge that gap?
I joined a group of seven energy efficiency experts with diverse perspectives on EM&V to grapple with these questions over the past year, beginning with a three-day intensive workshop as part of Rocky Mountain Institute’s 2016 e Lab Accelerator. The result is the report just released by RMI, The Status and Promise of Advanced M&V. The authors all brought lessons from their prior and ongoing work, which included DNV GL’s report for NEEP, The Changing EM&V Paradigm.
The RMI report focuses on two key aspects of advanced M&V: automated data processing and increased data granularity. Both these features are closely tied to “big data.” As hourly or finer whole-premise energy consumption data becomes more prevalent via Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), and new building technologies offer access to end use data of different kinds, very large data sets are becoming increasingly available. Automated data processing can be a key to extracting value from these data sets. But even with metered data at the whole-premise, monthly level, automated processing can offer more timely information. And even without automation, more granular data can offer more insights into customer behaviour and operations, and better accuracy for energy savings estimates.
Our discussion quickly found that (E)M&V is used, and understood, differently by different stakeholders in different contexts. The value of advanced M&V depends on what the results will be used for and by whom. For the customer as well as the energy efficiency vendor, more timely feedback can confirm that the efficiency investment is paying off—or identify a need to correct an installation problem. For energy efficiency programs, a faster feedback loop means that performance of individual projects and of the program as a whole can be measured—and improved—without waiting for a long evaluation process. Faster feedback can mean better customer engagement, potentially leading in turn to deeper savings. Regulators as well as policy makers and program planners would welcome earlier feedback on current programs as they enter the next planning cycle. Likewise, the greater accuracy and specificity offered by more granular data can improve customer engagement, program insights, and confidence on the part of policy decision makers.
It’s easy to talk about these benefits, but how easy is it to provide them, and what are the costs and other tradeoffs? These are questions the energy efficiency industry is still grappling with. Our report identifies several key needs and opportunities for M&V 2.0:
- Pilots: Many questions can be answered only by empirical experience. How customers and vendors will respond to new information flows, and what cost savings can actually be provided by automated analytics remain to be seen.
- Practitioner Workflows: As new M&V tools are offered and tested, the industry will need to establish criteria for determining when and how to incorporate these tools into practice for different types of M&V applications.
- Acceptance Criteria: With a proliferation of new tools, the industry will need to set requirements related to accuracy, uncertainty, confidence, and reporting.
- Data Access and Availability: Automation requires addressing institutional and operational issues related to data privacy and access. Stakeholders from all sides will need to work together to establish the rules of the game.
- Treatment of Additional Baselines: When we talk about savings, the “compared to what?” question is always lurking. Current automated analysis methods are designed to measure savings relative to prior consumption, and do little to address natural replacement baselines, program influence, custom projects, or major changes unrelated to the efficiency measure of interest. Working groups on normalized metered energy consumption (NMEC), such as the CalTRACK Initiative for residential retrofits, are grappling with many of these issues.
- Peer Learning and Information Sharing: Many advances are happening in the context of private agreements between advanced M&V providers and their clients. Cross-industry groups promoting the sharing of information will help to advance progress.
DNV GL is participating in pilots and stakeholder processes to continue to make progress on these topics. We’ll have more to say in the coming months.