Retrofits are a popular way to keep a building running efficiently; with the right upgrades, a building can reduce monthly energy bills, maintain reliable equipment, and streamline building operations. However, the actual act of retrofitting a building is a complicated process.
Three common challenges to implementing a retrofit are tracking success, accurately proving return on investment (ROI), and financing the project. By establishing a measurement and verification (M&V) program before initiating a retrofit, property managers and building engineers can achieve better energy use reductions and have better project financing.
Establishing A Measurement and Verification Practice
When undertaking any energy conservation measure (ECM), including energy retrofits, engineers need a way to track the effects. Measurement and verification ensures that each retrofit performs at the projected level. Before automated processes were developed, the only ways to track energy consumption were manual meter readings and the data provided on monthly utility bills. These are not ideal ways to collect data; for years, however, they were the only options.
Now, new technologies make it much easier to track more reliable data. Real-time monitoring is one such method that allows users to see their data consumption updated every minute. For measurement and verification, this is a particularly good tool because its flexible solution can be deployed in a matter of weeks (instead of invasive installations that disrupt service) and investor-grade data is quickly available.
Key steps in creating any M&V plan include:
- Select target areas and establish baseline
- Analyze data to identify most effective retrofits
- Calculate energy savings and estimated ROI
- Implement and track results
Each building and team is different, so you need to find the M&V practice that best fits your needs.
Measurement and Verification To Prove ROI
Perhaps the most important function of M&V is to prove a return on investment, thereby showing value for each ECM undertaken. With retrofits, this is increasingly important as many measures can be costly and financing projects can be difficult. The ability to prove value before a large capital investment is pivotal in the decision-making process.
With a data-backed argument, key stakeholders will prove that retrofits are worth financing by providing estimated savings and ROI at the beginning of the retrofit discussion. Real-time data can quickly establish a baseline for estimated savings on any ECM. These calculations will prove that targeted retrofit investments are less risky, thereby making lower cost financing options available. Finally, a good measurement and verification process requires engineers to constantly validate the results of the project. Monitoring the project with real-time data can make M&V significantly easier and more reliable.
In the sales process, a vendor may make a promise it can’t keep. We’ve all been there before and know the disappointment associated with this shortcoming. However, many stakeholders don’t have a way to track the effectiveness of a new tool.
That’s where measurement and verification comes in.
With a good M&V system, stakeholders will be able to keep each vendor or contractor on-time and on budget. A data tracking system will take it even further by verifying the consumption data to see if the ECM is effective.
Vendors need to make accurate estimations on savings potential. Making promises they can’t keep is something that all vendors should strive to avoid. This is a responsibility that falls on the vendors; but, having clients that hold them accountable to their promises will ensure better products, better support, and better results.