Evaluation, measurement, and verification, also known as EM&V, has allowed for crucial understanding of energy efficiency programs through data evaluation since the 1970s. A lot has changed in the industry since then, including the emergence of advanced M&V, also known as M&V 2.0.
Collaboration as a Means of Progress
Over three years ago, CT DEEP assembled an interdisciplinary team to conduct a three-year project involving pilots that applied advanced M&V to analyze energy efficiency programs in both the residential and commercial sectors. The team included Eversource CT and United Illuminating, NEEP, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. It was assisted by Recurve and also supported by the U.S. DOE and state partners Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and New York. The purpose of the project was to gain experience with advanced M&V in hopes that it could speed up feedback and increase transparency on program impacts. What has emerged years later has begun to address all of these goals and more. Information about this project is now on a resource page on CT DEEP’s website.
Future Directions of M&V
Recently, NEEP got some of the team members together for a fireside chat webinar called Advanced M&V Webinar: from Pilots to Practice. In it, participants pondered the trajectory of advanced M&V.
In the last 40 years, EM&V has allowed for crucial understanding of energy efficiency programs. Advanced M&V has emerged in the last few years as a tool to assist with this. Advanced M&V went from a theoretical idea of how to improve M&V to a tool that can be implemented on a larger scale. Traditional and advanced M&V can be creatively compared to a report card and a dashboard. Traditional M&V grades a project at the end of the term and advanced M&V can also tell you how the project is doing along the way,
In NEEP’s fireside chat a researcher, program administrator, state energy director and software developer exchanged ideas while discussing how to move forward with advanced M&V technology. A number of challenges with the current technology were brought up. These include the ability to define the appropriate treatment period for any given customer, how non-routine events (like COVID-19) are addressed in evaluations, and how we can integrate advanced M&V with generation data. The discussants acknowledged several trends where advanced M&V technology can play a role. For example, there is increasing focus on whole building impacts rather than measure-specific retrofits. Buildings are being viewed as grid assets integrated with other resources like demand response. And, energy efficiency programs are being valued as decarbonization strategies. Questions came up about whether we can lower the cost or increase the value of information from evaluation studies. Also, they discussed how to create ways to compare similar programs and tell how effective efficiency programs are versus how effective they could be.
At the end of the discussion, participants were asked what it would take to help make advanced M&V technology serve needs of more stakeholders in energy efficiency going forward. They touched on many ideas, which are presented below and broken into several categories. More discussions will be needed to delve deeper into each category.
- More research would be useful. The researchers’ role is to ask for the types of information that would in some ways require evaluators to consider new ways of approaching evaluation.
- Some areas in the industry haven’t embraced advanced M&V yet; some areas are not subject to evaluation requirements. Researchers and software developers’ expertise can help conduct the outreach and provide resources that allow other stakeholders to become educated on the topic and encourage these changes.
- The industry must look into analytical solutions to providing some level of automation for adjusting when unpredictable events take place (such as COVID-19).
- It takes a village to get the data flowing into tools; the industry should look at them as a community to think further about how to use these results in the most effective ways.
- To improve programs, administrators should look for ways to greatly lessen the time spent developing the scope of analyses and physically conducting them.
- Data can and should be leveraged. Utilities need to continue to collect data and they need to use it strategically to encourage more efficiency and also measurement of that efficiency.
- Regulators and utilities should expand applications of advanced M&V. One important case in point being explored by DOE is grid-interactive efficient buildings – the key aspect being around load shared (or demand response) and load shift from one part of the day to another.
- In order to use advanced M&V for integrated energy efficiency, programs should have a stronger connection from planners to generators.
- Policymakers must work towards developing policies that require, encourage, or enable meter-based savings claims, which will then cascade to utilities and evaluators as a signal that M&V is something to be encouraged.
- Change rests on regulatory policy and how cost effectiveness is defined. Advanced M&V can play a role where geographic-specific cost effectiveness is important; going forward, this includes non-wires program designs, carbon impacts, and equity analyses, for example.
- Policymakers should make use of information from advanced M&V to support building new programs, healthier and safer buildings, and new ways to engage with partners.
Throughout the conversation, participants emphasized the ability of pilots to strengthen engagement between stakeholders. The future of M&V not only involves energy efficiency professionals, but requires backing from policy makers and acceptance from all kinds of stakeholders. There is a learning curve for energy efficiency experts as well as utility program administrators, IT departments, evaluators, and more. All participants felt strongly that the huge amount of data that is collected should be used in intentional and constructive ways, and that putting it into advanced M&V software is an area that will continue to evolve.
Collaboration helped make the pilots happen, and information exchange and collaboration will help the industry build on this experience.
In a world challenged by COVID-19 and racial injustice, the need to work towards a more energy efficient and clean Earth has become even more urgent. Advanced M&V, which can capture and analyze buildings’ different load shapes, is an exciting tool to help us get there. The future of M&V involves shifting the grid to renewables and thinking about the issue not only from an efficiency perspective (solar, storage, controllable devices), but also thinking about how to tackle the problem holistically and engage with our markets and customers. M&V is crucial to transparently justify the societal investment we’re making in support of better, healthier, and safer buildings. That is a win for everyone!