Measurement and Verification Quality Assurance

The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) is used around the world for the determination of energy savings.

Unfortunately there are many cases where adherence to the IPMVP is claimed, but on close examination M&V plans and reports there are many problems. At worst a M&V report may claim that savings exist when a forensic examination shows that savings are much less than claimed.

Energy Users for whom energy efficiency works are being undertaken, whether these works are part of an Energy Performance Contract (EPC), or are subsidized through state or federal energy efficiency schemes, generally rely on the Energy Services Contractor (ESCO) undertaking the work to provide the M&V.

For energy upgrade or EPC projects worth more than roughly $500,000, energy users should appoint an independent expert to undertake Quality Assurance (QA) to ensure that the M&V services provided by the ESCO are robust and adhere to IPMVP key principles. The cost of QA is likely to be well under the value provided by the QA service, and failure to undertake this QA is generally a false economy. Put simply, without QA the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year the ESCO claims you are saving may be far in excess of the reduction you are seeing in your energy bills.

Firstly, and very importantly, as an energy user you should not sign off on an M&V plan presented to you by a contractor without independent expert review. Under the IPMVP the M&V plan must be prepared before any energy efficiency upgrades are undertaken. This is to prevent “gaming” of the savings calculations, and to resolve issues in “cold blood”. Unfortunately I have seen far too many M&V plans where are vague, non-transparent, non-IPMVP compliant and even nonsensical. If you have signed off on a poor M&V plan, it is very hard to go back later, and you may end up spending a lot of money, but not seeing much change to your energy costs.

Secondly, any M&V reports, should be scrutinized to ensure that they follow the plan. M&V reports can’t just make up a method of determining savings, and instead need to be based on the M&V plan approved by the energy user. But yet again I have seen cases where this isn’t the case. For example, the case where the plan said option B would be used for determining savings, but then in the report option A was used.

The graphic below, from IPMVP Core Concepts 2016, the latest version of the protocol, available from the Efficiency Valuation Organization, identifies where independent QA should be undertaken.

Measurement and Verification (M&V) Quality Assurance
Flowchart of M&V processes, highlighting the role of QA. Adapted from IPMVP Core Concepts 2016

If you are investing over $500,000 in an energy efficiency upgrade, please contact me to discuss the value I can provide to your project with independent quality assurance of M&V activities. And get in touch before its too late and you have signed off on the M&V plan!