By Nina Rusowicz, Project Manager at VRM Tech (a Smarter Choices founding partner)
Every business, large or small, needs to keep track of its costs. Energy bills are one area where organisations can save money easily and for little or no upfront investment. And since energy bills are predicted to rise by almost 30% over the next five years, for the 5.9 million SMEs in the UK – which account for 99% of all businesses – the implementation of energy efficiency improvements is the logical next step.
However, organisations should be aware of the data that surrounds their energy bill and what it signifies. The amount of energy used will be directly related to the type of building, its age, and the energy needs of the occupants. Analysis of this data, alongside an energy audit, will be key in identifying recommendations for energy efficiencies. After all, you cannot change what you do not measure. The same is true on verifying that the efficiency measures have made the promised improvements.
The consortium behind Smarter Choices – a one-stop-shop for straightforward energy efficiency measures – was only too aware of the importance of energy data for assessment and verification and developed its service to include measurement and verification (M&V) technology and protocols. Smarter Choices is a government-funded initiative that overcomes the barriers faced by SMEs by offering an end-to-end service package that simplifies and secures access to quality energy efficiency solutions that guarantee savings and demand no upfront investment.
What is M&V?
Measurement & Verification is defined as the process of quantifying the energy and cost savings from improvements in energy-consuming systems and is designed to prove that energy efficiency investments are actually achieved. M&V measures energy savings by calculating a baseline energy consumption before the energy conservation measures (ECMs) are implemented, and the energy consumption post-installation. An M&V report includes adjustments for circumstances that would alter the energy consumption rates such as weather, operating hours, occupancy etc.
There are different M&V methodologies that could be used, but the globally recognised protocol is called IPMVP. Created by EVO (Efficiency Valuation Organization), the IPMVP is a framework for objectively assessing an ECM.
The benefits of implementing M&V process into the ECMs project are many, but the key ones to highlight are the feedback on the performance of the ECM to the building owner to allow for even more energy and costs savings, as well as independently verified savings that are key for performance-based financial payments. The M&V report would then confirm ROI and therefore business case justification for project investment.
M&V process within the Smarter Choices service
M&V is an integral part of the new Smarter Choices platform that has been developed by VRM. The new platform will combine the key features of VRM’s two established platforms Clarity and Refurbify, combining energy data and installation audit management. The new Smarter Choices platform is technology-agnostic and can monitor any energy device – new or old – as well as other sensors to monitor e.g. temperature, occupancy, levels of humidity and weather conditions, and shows the data in real-time graphs, making it easy to identify patterns and potential problems. This allows the service to analyse billing and sensor information, which captures the status (so-called baseline) i.e. how many people are in a room, lighting usage etc. The sensors capture this information before and after the installation of the M&V technology, in order to understand the difference in numbers and make an energy and cost savings comparison.
Moreover, the Smarter Choices platform also contains all the detail associated with an ECM installation, such as design documents, photographic evidence, and commissioning reports, that provides transparency and can be used as a point of reference. All the relevant information is stored in one place within the Smarter Choices platform, creating a decision trail through the M&V process and a record of installation in order to guide an M&V assessor and generate the final M&V report with the complete record of verified energy and cost savings.
How to get started
As part of the Smarter Choices project, VRM Tech has funding to install M&V equipment for SME clients in 10 pilot sites for free. The first step is to contact the Smarter Choices team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 7215031 to check your eligibility for a free energy assessment.
Bio – about the author
Nina Rusowicz, Project Manager at VRM Tech, is the company’s newest recruit. With a background in sustainability and renewable energy, Nina spent more than six years working with the London Borough of Camden, championing energy efficiency and low carbon transition into its asset management strategy. Nina delivered the London Borough of Camden’s Carbon Management Programme and managed various energy efficiency projects such as lighting upgrades and solar PV installation. Nina was also the senior officer in charge of the heat metering roll-out and performance monitoring strategy for the housing portfolio.
Nina holds a BSc(Engineering) in Environmental Protection and Management, BSc(Economics) and postgraduate diploma in Carbon Management from the University of Glasgow.