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Measurement & Verification, Part 2: Making The Plan

August 17, 2006
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The first part of this M&V discussion addressed the importance of the Measurement & Verification (M&V) plan and my suggestion that it be a prerequisite to any LEED certified job. When you read the explanation of the M&V plan in the LEED 2.2 manual, it says a lot but leaves a lot to be desired, beginning with what I consider to be a negative “Intent” statement: “Provide for the ongoing accountability of building energy consumption over time.” The word “accountability” can send engineers scurrying for cover (refer to the November 2004 Tomorrow’s Engineer column titled, “Green Design Liability”).

Think about it -- is this Energy Credit intended to spur looking at the big picture or to look for flaws and hold someone accountable? I think The M&V plan intent should be stated in a more positive phrase. Maybe something like, “Intent: To continuously monitor the building energy consumption and continuously strive to improve energy conservation over the life of the systems.”

The next part of the current M&V plan description that I have a problem with is the option to isolate ECM’s (energy conservation measures) versus implementing a M&V plan that addresses the whole building. We need to begin to improve energy conservation “on the whole” and not invest M&V plans on individual ECM components. Let’s focus on the forest and not on a tree. If building owners have limited funds for a M&V plan, then let’s get the best buy for the money. Make ECM M&V plans an Additional Energy Credit while we make the whole-building M&V plan a prerequisite for any LEED certification.

The third issue with the M&V plan text is that it really doesn’t say how to write a M&V plan. Since our group (Building Solutions) provides commissioning services and commissioning is a prerequisite, we have the opportunity to participate in a lot more LEED projects as compared to design firms. Therefore, we also have the opportunity to observe a lot of design teams M&V plans. So far, we have seen little similarity between these M&V plans, which vary from 4 pages to 12 pages of text. This got me thinking about how the industry could use a standardized M&V plan that focuses on the whole-building energy consumption.

Here at RDK Engineers, we have a LEED luncheon discussion each Tuesday, so I offered to facilitate one of these lunch-and-learn sessions where I could gather data that I could possibly roll into a standardize M&V plan. Using a Smart board (a really neat electronic whiteboard/computer), I grouped the information into categories and then collected input. Here is how the session went:

Measurement & Verification Plan
A better strategy
To be a “good neighbor”
Benchmark energy budget to actual consumption
Ability to make “course correction”

Energy simulation software
Additional building automation sensors
Web access
Designer confirm and adjust

By utility companies
By building automation systems
By energy software
By backup calculations

Measuring (Meters & Sub-Meters)
Electric: kW, kWH, Time of Day
Gas: CFH
Water: CF
Steam: Lbs/Hr
Oil: Gallons
Chilled Water: Ton-Hrs, Peak Tons, CHWR Temperature
Hot Water: BTUH

Job Description

Executive Summary
Degree Days
Building Square Feet
BTUH per Square Foot per Year (all utilities)
BTUH per Square Foot per Year (by utility)

Want to know more about my quest for a standardized M&V plan? I hope to have the M&V Plan ready for review and comment soon, so check back here.

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