What is M&V and why do you need it?

27th February 2017

“Measurement & Verification (M&V) is the process of using measurements to reliably determine actual saving created within an individual facility by an energy management program.” IPMVP Vol I, 2010.

In short, this is about ensuring that you get what you have paid for. If a new piece of kit is supposed to save you £500 a month on electricity, then M&V is the process that will tell if it actually has, and continues to, and if not, why not.

M&V should be an integral part to any energy program. Often neglected, it is the crucial final stage that demonstrates performance and success. It provides engineers with the tools necessary to calculate the cost savings the business has made by carrying out energy efficiency action, and it provides Directors with confidence that their investment is sound.

Where expertise matters

To report these cost savings, M&V engineers baseline period energy use to the conditions of the reporting period. The methods used to achieve this are adjusted for different factors:

  • the need for accuracy,
  • the complexity of factors driving energy use
  • the amount of equipment having its performance assessed and,
  • the available budget

These adjustments can be trivial, simple or complex. For example:
  • A new lighting system is installed throughout a building, and then the workload decreases and an office area is vacant for several months. The electricity bill would be lower than last year – but how much of that is due to the department that is now closed? M&V would be able to tell you and determine how much of the saving is actually due to the new lighting system
  • On the other hand, let’s say instead that the workload increased after the installation of the new lighting and a night shift was brought in, requiring lighting to be on all through the night as well. Now the electricity bill has gone up and your finance director is accusing you of wasting capital on the new lighting system! The M&V programme would tell you that far from wasting money, the increased hours of use have actually increased the savings and that without the new lighting system the electricity bill would have been much higher still.

M&V is a contractual requirement of many Energy Performance Contracts, but I would suggest would be a valuable tool to include, even on much simpler improvement projects, and certainly as part of any coordinated energy programme.

Stephen Preece

Engineer and Business Development Director

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