Importance of measurement and verification in ensuring energy savings of high-performance buildings

It is very important to develop and establish performance metrics and verification methods for high-performance buildings, systems and products that provide sustainability. For energy, the need is for facility executives to do a better job measuring and verifying energy. We have seen several instances where facility executives have access to all these meters and complex ways to measure energy, but they easily forget or they just don’t want to measure.

What should be the key metrics and measurements?

How do we simplify this to make it second nature in building operations and maintenance?

It is common sense that measurement and verification (M&V) go together with energy, but not necessarily everyone in the construction industry sees it that way. In fact, M&V lends a hand to objectively define high-performance buildings and helps the different stakeholders of the industry to meet the definition.

Facility executives need better feedback on actual energy performance, and they need to be empowered to take action on that data. One would tend to agree that the measurement and verification of energy performance goals is not well implemented out there. Most property owners don’t meter or sub-meter their buildings well from an energy performance standpoint. Understanding where the energy is being used is difficult, if not impossible.

Improving operations to improve energy performance is really the key to success of high performance buildings, as they will exist for decades to come. Energy-saving strategies can only be implemented, if building owners and operators know where and how to do them. Educating and having knowledgeable operators is the key. Incremental operational improvements and not merely throwing money at perfectly good equipment is a vastly underutilized energy efficiency strategy. We certainly need to look at comparisons of actual building performance with respect to the intended building performance.

As the level of awareness and education improves amongst the building operators, the long-term drop-off in building performance will not be prominent. Retro-commissioning is an important part of preventing that drop-off from happening.

There are several tools available to monitor building’s ongoing performance and provide inputs to facility managers and owners on how they are performing and what more can be done to improve the performance. One such tool is the LEED Arc platform that helps buildings track their ongoing performance not just in the area of energy but also in terms of water, waste, transportation and indoor environment.

We recently piloted the LEED Arc platform for some of our clients across India in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council to help these projects track and improve their ongoing performance. This was done for multi-tenanted buildings such as Ascendas International Tech Park Chennai and also for leased interior spaces such as the Saint Gobain corporate office in Chennai. The LEED Arc platform indeed provides owners with data including benchmarking their performance with similar buildings world-wide and as consultants we were able to use that data to help these clients further improve their ongoing performance through operational improvements and retrofits in their effort to continuously improve their building’s performance.