The LEED certification process provides the owner,  design team, and construction team the opportunity to collect from 1 up to 10 additional credits with the Optimize Energy Performance initiative, and yet it only offers one additional credit for the establishment and implementation of the Measurement & Verification (M&V) Plan that would assist in assuring that the energy goals are met. I think this is a mistake that needs to be corrected within the LEED process because of the sustainable benefit of measurement and verification process over the life of the building. Completing the energy simulation for the 1-10 credits is done once, while the measuring of system performance can be and should be continuous over the years of operation.

We might compare the situation to a hybrid automobile  that can maximize fuel consumption via the optimum use of the correct energy/utility based on the speed of the vehicle. Now picture this: an energy- and environmentally conscious person paying a premium to do “the right thing” by purchasing a hybrid car. The vehicle is advertised to provide electrical power for speed up to, say, 30 MPH. Once over this speed, the car will seamlessly transfer to gas to power it down the road. Seems like a good concept if you have a speedometer to keep the vehicle at or under the optimum 30 MPH as much as possible, versus inadvertently traveling at 35 MPH and decreasing efficiency. Also, this car comes with an odometer, so that the owner can monitor miles per gallon to keep the vehicle operating at peak performance and to verify car performance.

Sounds pretty basic, paying a premium with the ability to maximize the optimum utility at peak performance. Now, let’s say the owner wants to save some money on the initial investment because of the hybrid engine premium that she is paying to get in the car. One “value-engineered” cost-cut is to purchase this hybrid car without a speedometer or odometer. It’s no different than purchasing the LEED Optimize Energy Performance credits without investing in the M&V Plan.

If it had not occurred to the automobile owner before the car arrived, she will soon realize measurement and verification will become difficult to gage without gages. How can she maximize the energy sources without a speedometer? How can energy performance be measured without an odometer? How will the car owner know if energy and environmental goals get met?

Fortunately for the hybrid automobile owner, the speedometer and odometer are always included when it comes to purchasing a car. I think the same should occur with the M&V Plan. It should be a prerequisite, just like building commissioning is a prerequisite based on the following requirements:

- The entire building’s utilities shall be measured and verified. Individual energy conservation components (e.g., variable frequency drive) measurement and verification will be achieved under an “Additional M&V - 1 Credit Plan.”

- Assign someone to monitor and report on the utility consumption for a minimum of one year after the owner takes occupancy.

- Throughout this one-year period, the reporting process outlined in the M&V Plan will be implemented to benchmark the basis of design, comparing energy simulation to the actual energy consumption.

- A “course correction” initiative (“what if” scenario) shall be implemented under the “Additional M&V Implementation Plan 1-Credit” that outlines options to adjust the energy consumption during the one-year period to continuously improve the building system performance.

Sounds like a plan? Well, there is more to this idea, so log on again soon. I will be discussing how the M&V Plan needs to be presented in a more positive fashion, along with a suggested M&V Plan format that would help to standardize how engineers write the M&V Plans.