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It Pays to Check

16 April 2012

As FMs become more involved in verifying the results of energy saving initiatives it is essential they consider all of the parameters. Getting it wrong can lead to misleading conclusions.

Over the last few years we have seen FMs taking a more active role in energy management, in terms of both reporting on energy consumption and initiating projects to increase efficiency and reduce consumption, often linked to KPIs. As these initiatives come to fulfilment FMs are now being required to report back on the results and verify what savings were achieved to quantify the benefits.

In many cases such initiatives may involve a pilot of the technology across a number of buildings or selected items of plant, prior to a roll-out across the estate. Consequently, ensuring that the results from a pilot or other type of evaluation are accurate and meaningful is essential before additional investment is made.

To that end, there are a number of key factors to take into account. The examples given below relate specifically to the retrofitting of additional controls to boiler plant but the same principles apply to all such energy projects.

Do you have sufficient sub-metering in place?
For example, if you are measuring gas consumption of boilers does the meter just measure gas supply to the boilers or does it include other gas appliances being used, such as catering?

Do you have sufficient pre-initiative, historical consumption data for more detailed analysis?
Where detailed energy consumption data is already in place it may be possible, with the help of your technology provider, to carry out Regression Analysis or CUSUM Analysis for extra validity.

Is the energy consumption you are measuring/comparing likely to have been affected by the weather?
Where boiler gas consumption is being compared to the previous year it is vital to correct the data using degree data from the Meteorological Office, or measured locally, to account for colder weather increasing consumption. It is very important to clarify if the building’s energy profile correlates with the degree day data

Is the measurement technique valid?
For example, simply charting the ‘hours run’ of a boiler is meaningless as it doesn’t take account of weather variation or other variables. Really scrutinise the technology provider’s methodology.

Are there any other changes in the building that may influence the results?
There may be other variables that influence results so it is important to identify these. Possible factors include other energy-saving initiatives, changes in building usage, BMS strategy changes in boiler run-time, more frequent deliveries through warehouse doors etc.

Where energy saving initiatives involve the use of retrofit or replacement technologies, the technology provider should have the tools in place to enable accurate verification. There is also a strong argument for talking to people who have already verified and validated the technology.

For example, Sabien’s M2G boiler optimisation controls have been independently evaluated by organisations such as Serco, Jones Lang LaSalle, BT, Aviva, Royal Mail, central government departments such as Defra, and CLG, along with many local authorities and universities. In fact, over 5,000 M2G units are installed across the private and public sectors.

So when it comes to verification, either pre- or post-rollout, it is vital that all variables are identified, sufficient consumption data is available and the technology provider’s measurement and verification methodology is robust and transparent.

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