This is the first in a series of Zondits articles on next generation evaluation and EDGE M&V. Please join us as we explore these emerging trends over the next weeks. Please join in the discussion thread at the bottom of the page as we explore these emerging trends.
by Gary Epstein, ERS
There has been a recent push to take energy efficiency to a new level, with many states expanding program budgets and discussions of approaches to dramatically increase energy savings targets. Some refer to such new program evolutions as Utility 2.0, and now, going along for the ride, we’re hearing discussions of an “EM&V 2.0.” There are many valid arguments for improving how evaluations and M&V have been historically done, but there is no real consensus on what this EM&V 2.0 is or should be. Alternative language is needed to characterize the distinct world of high granularity, high volume data and related methods that constitutes emerging next generation M&V capabilities.
Let’s recognize that the energy landscape has truly changed in the past years. First, there are new drivers that underscore the great significance of energy efficiency, and particular among these is climate change. Next, the whole perspective on what utility infrastructure is now and what it needs to become in the immediate years is undergoing radical rethinking. With these two drivers, the integration and accountability of efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, and appropriate application of conventional energy technologies in micro-grids, smart-grids, and mainstream grids has become more critical and must meet the standards of review of new stakeholders such as T&D planners. Indeed, if efficiency is to play a key role in the mitigation of climate challenges and in the solution to grid evolution, these new stakeholders need to be convinced that energy efficiency impacts are accurate and reliable. In parallel with the potential skepticism of the new stakeholders, the old stakeholders are clamoring for market and program insights more immediately, more accurately, and with greater understanding of energy use in buildings and industry.
We’ll note that in the quest for a definition of the next generation of EM&V, some have argued that the fundamental requirement should be lower cost. While there are clearly some lower budget programs that need to carefully manage their associated M&V costs, the real needs must be for higher value M&V that helps offer greater credibility to all stakeholders. The advocates for lower and lower budgets for evaluation have claimed that project impacts can be determined through strict focus on whole-building meter data, defining just a slightly more analytical variant of traditional billing analysis. But as has been demonstrated over the years, there are practical limits to types and sizes of buildings for which such analyses are effective and useful, and granular data allows program implementers and facility owners to intelligently approach efficiency opportunities.
Emergence of EDGE M&V – The next generation of evaluation and M&V must incorporate the latest technologies and analytics, must be higher value, must produce more immediate results, and must serve the need for accurately demonstrating project impacts while opening the door for continuous improvement. Effectively, this defines the mandate for EDGE M&V ‒ Energy-focused Deep Granular Evaluation M&V and Analytics. EDGE M&V aims to produce higher value results through leverage of the latest sensor and monitoring technologies coupled with deep granular analyses. The key characteristics of EDGE M&V include:
- Integration of new technologies for evaluation and M&V – Evaluation and M&V must adopt and benefit from the latest technologies. A new world of lower cost sensors, dynamic cloud transmission and storage of data, and increasingly powerful analytic and reporting tools establish the framework of the Internet of Things (IoT), and application of associated tools and approaches can progressively improve evaluation. As stated, some in our industry have argued that whole-building meters coupled with weather data and statistical analyses should form the framework for new EM&V, but such analyses do not always work, and also, this singular view simply neglects the giant opportunity to use new technology to gather and develop more granular high value data.
- More immediate and dynamic results – The days of waiting for many months or even years for evaluation results must be finished. Credible M&V and dynamic improvement of programs and energy efficiency projects calls for more dynamic and immediate results, and progressively real-time insights into programs and projects. EDGE M&V offers near real-time or true real-time performance measurements from a broad range of data sources including customer side end-use devices.
- Higher levels of data granularity and deeper information – EDGE M&V, incorporating the new IoT world and comprehensive and automated analytics, is opening the door to a far more granular understanding of the built environment. It is and will be increasingly incomplete to focus on simple data collection when current and emerging devices are making it cost-effective to use a wide array of sensors to gather comprehensive information on all aspects of facility and equipment conditions and operations. Effectively, data collection and metering deployments will need to be broader and deeper. Just as smart phones, which can include dozens of sensors and multiple radios, have dramatically demonstrated the value of comprehensive information, EDGE M&V will provide the methods and analytics to capture and make sense of this emerging data source, and calls out that such granularity and depth is imperative.
- Higher value, more comprehensive results – It is insufficient that the only results of an evaluation are single value project or program realization rates. Yes, there have been arguments for lower cost evaluations, but the real need is for higher value. In addition to single value energy impacts, the new generation of evaluation must provide project and facility insights, thereby paving the way towards progressive improvements in measure installations and operations, deeper insights into load patterns, and opening the door to enhanced efficiency endeavors. EDGE M&V even now leverages data from customer devices to provide highly reliable fast program feedback; this capability is only expanding as end-use measurement technologies are dispersed through a building in appliance-enabled, measure-installed, or evaluator-installed sensors and communications.
- Regular application of combined pre- and post-M&V – It has been the standard of evaluation that only post-installation monitoring data is developed, but that has left the industry with many challenges in understanding pre-retrofit facility operations, existing conditions, and baselines. The new EDGE M&V paradigm can provide a more granular picture of baseline performance since it calls for pre-retrofit or measure M&V wherever it can be cost-effectively incorporated. Inclusion of the pre-retrofit data enables enhanced savings and impact estimates, and deeper and greater insights into customer and facility situations.
- Comprehensive integration with implementation – In the push towards EDGE M&V with its inherent mandate for more granular data and deeper analytical insights, and along with recognition of the value of pre-measure facility data gathering and metering deployment, it is becoming clear that evaluation efforts must be integrated into the overall implementation process. The efficiency industry needs to move past the deep adversarial relationship between implementation and evaluation, and move towards an industry-wide push towards a deeper and more dynamic understanding of facilities, projects, and programs that can progressively improve. With this, we can focus on the overall cost-effectiveness of efficiency endeavors (including programs, equipment, and evaluation) rather than putting too much attention on whether the typical 3%‒5% evaluation allocation has been effective. EDGE M&V can help bridge the implementer/evaluator divide, and enhance overall cost-effectiveness through the closer working relationship.
- Integration into whole-building, lower cost M&V efforts – While much of EDGE M&V calls out for deeper engagements in facilities, it also recognizes the need for cost-effective evaluation. As such, whole-building meter data analytics for evaluation and associated billing analyses do have their place for certain facilities and programs. This is entirely appropriate. But such evaluations cannot produce results that provide deeper insights into projects and programs. EDGE M&V approaches can cost-effectively be integrated into such evaluation efforts, leveraging deeper dives into small samples of participants and facilities, and using advanced analytics for enhancing evaluation insights. Again, the ultimate goal is high value, with progressive improvement in measure and program performance, rather than report-card type findings.
EDGE M&V, in fact, has broader applications than just evaluation. With the new technologies, advanced deep analytics, an inclination towards pre-installation M&V deployment, and with the more granular insights that can be achieved, applications are becoming apparent for a wide variety of endeavors. These include program implementation quality assurance, ESCO project assessments, market characterizations, research and planning, forecasting, automated program progress reporting, and in general, any effort for which absolute assurance of anticipated project savings and impacts must be established.
Please visit Zondits over the coming weeks and months as we explore the various aspects of EDGE M&V, and examine specific project examples that have taken advantage of these latest approaches. Also, please look out for the AESP Brown Bag session on new developments in EM&V and EDGE M&V, scheduled for June 2, 2016.