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7 min read

Energy Efficiency Where to Begin? Identify Part 2

By Phil Zito on Jun 18, 2013 8:05:56 AM

Topics: Energy energy

In the previous article of the Energy Efficiency Where to Begin series, I began to discuss how to identify the key information you need to plan, create, and implement an Energy Management Program. In this article I will explain the last two points you need to identify and will summarize the identify step. 

 Just to recap before we move into this article the four key points required for an effective energy management program are below:

  1. Identify Outcomes
  2. Identify Stakeholders
  3. Identify Metrics
  4. Identify Data Sources

We covered Outcomes and Stakeholders which tend to be more organizational then analytical. You will notice a clear break moving into this article as we now identify the analytical (data) sources you need for an effective energy management program.


This article will cover the topics below.

  1. Identify Metrics
  2. Identify Data Sources

Identify Metrics

What is measured gets done, or so I've heard. I had this phrase hammered into my head during my time in the military. The premise was that in a world of competing interests the metric that is measured and tied to someone's success are the one's that typically get done. For example, I sat down with a city's facility management group recently.

As I toured their facilities I was amazed at how badly the infrastructure was, the reality was that there was no clear metric defining maintenance, energy management, and/or efficiency. Hence why I was there in the first place.  The reality is that if you do not set expectations people, depending on their level of motivation, will define their own.

So what does this all have to do with metrics and how in the world is any of this analytical?  Good question.

If you are following the process I defined in the previous article then you have already met with your stakeholders and you have identified your outcomes.  In order to help you track with this workflow I will use the following example through the rest of this article.

You work for a major university,  you have bio labs, high-tech research, healthcare, and so on. Suffice to say you have almost every type of building there is. You have met with your VP of Campus Infrastructure and he/she informs you that they committed to a 25% reduction in CO2 for a State Carbon Reduction initiative as well as 20% utility usage reduction both of which need to be accomplished over the next 10 years.  In those couple of sentences you have your stakeholder's and your outcomes. Now you need to identify your metrics. (By the way, these are the two most common reduction goals I run into with our clients)

CO2 Reduction Metrics

We know we need to reduce our CO2 by 25% and our utility usage by 20% over a 10 year period. You can either approach this as a 2.5%/2.0% reduction over 10 years or you can look at a forward sloped curve in which you effect the majority of your reduction in the first few years. Now you have two clear metrics:

  • Reduce CO2 by 25%
  • Reduce Utility Usage by 20%

These are both still a little vague and unfortunately this is usually how you receive the goals fortunately the State initiative has a clear format in which you are to measure your CO2 reduction and as such you know you need to:

  • Measure Utilities Consumed
  • Measure Utilities Produced
  • Measure Fleet Emissions (calculated by mileage and vehicle type)

Immediately you can identify that your utility reduction as well as any clean utilities (renewable) that can be produced on campus will directly impact both goals. You are now ready to establish your first set of metrics.

  1. Quarterly Measure Utilities Consumed (Total BTU)
  2. Quarterly Measure Utilities Consumed minus Utilities Produced (Total BTU converted to Tons of CO2) against CO2 Reduction Target (Tons of CO2)
  3. Annually Measure Fleet Emissions (Miles converted to Tons of CO2

*These metrics are by no means an exhaustive list but rather an example in case.

Utility Usage Metrics

20% over 10 years, depending on your facility this could be really easy or quite difficult. In this situation, let's assume that you have already talked to your stakeholders and based on what you have done 20% is a reasonable goal. Ok, where do we begin? Well, following the process we identify the metrics, the measurement periods, and the reporting methodology.

In the case of utility Usage Reduction it helps to divide your utilities into categories. You can either do this by provider, or by my preferred method, utility type. Here is how I like to divide utilities

  • Produced
    • Electricity
    • Steam
    • Process Water (Hot, Chilled, ect)
  • Purchased
    • Electricity
    • Steam
    • Process Water
    • Gas
    • Sewage
    • Ect

Then we get our collection periods, utilities work best if they are captured on a monthly basis ideally via utility bills that are validated against a live meter. Your structure would look something like this.

Building A Jan Feb Mar     Total Avg BTU Target Variance

Next we move into our measurement methodology. In a perfect world you would utilize energy management software to automatically collect your utility bills and utility meter data which would make reporting quite easy. That is a decision you need to make and one we will discuss in the data sources. Initially you will need to get roughly 2-3 years of data into your measurement tool (excel, third-party, ect) to create an accurate baseline.

Upon creating this baseline you can now look at your usage by building and benchmark the square feet/meters by BTU in order to understand the energy intensity for each building. With this information you can identify buildings that are over/under performance standards.  Finally, you create your forecasted target for each building and ultimately your campus, you assign the goals to the responsible parties and you define the measurement period as well as the consequences of not achieving the goal.

Identify Data Sources

Up to this point we have talked concepts, now we need to talk about getting the data. There are three methods to collect data

  1. Manual Collection and Entry
  2. Data Collection through a Building Automation System (BAS) and/or an Energy Management System (EMS)
  3. Custom Built Solutions

Obviously each one of these have a cost associated with them. I was on a campus that was so proud of their manual data collection they had an excel sheet that was literally several hundred tabs. There were a lot of issues with this but they liked it and didn't want to move onto technology. It's fine to use manual collection but be prepared to accept the manual labor, the dependence on whomever "owns" the data format, and the potential for data corruption.

On the complete opposite side of the equation are custom-built solutions, these can be quite robust and effective. If you have the resources and labor then this method may work for you but it requires time and expertise.

A lot of clients seem to settle in the middle with a BAS or EMS solution as their method of choice.

Regardless of method, you need to collect data. I'm not going to discuss manual collection because if you can't figure that out, well.....

How do we get the data we need, first we need to look at the meter list we compiled (you did compile a meter list right ....). With this meter list we create a simple table.

Meter Buidling Data Source Measurement Type
Meter 1a Alpha Lab BAS- ABC KWH, Interval Elec
Meter 2a       Water

With this list we know what data sources we have or rather do not have... From here we determine what meters we may or may not need to pull into our solution and make plans to do so (if you have questions on this please ask in the comments section).

Next we identify non-meter sources: Utility Bills, Fleet resources, ect. We would have to decide how to pull these into our platform once again it depends on the platform.

You may want some form of data normalization so you will need to identify your normalization sources: NOAA Weather Stations, Occupancy Schedules, ect.



Well, there you have it we are 1/3rd of the way done! This was by no means an exhaustive list of data collection and measurement methods. The point of this article was to get you thinking about the process. In our next article we will begin the Evaluate portion of our energy management process.




What is your approach to identifying the key information for your energy management program?

Let me know in the comments below

Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

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