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21. The Power of Data: Introduction

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Metering, monitoring and targeting (MM&T) is the single most important energy management tool and delivers a wide range of benefits if used effectively.  The technology is currently experiencing a boom, with a dramatic increase in products and services from both old and new suppliers.

Investing in MM&T makes excellent commercial sense.  So why are so many organisations failing to do so?  And when they do, why do we so often find that systems simply aren’t delivering the desired results?  What is going wrong?

This issue of Intelligent Energy Insights by Rebecc3450_bec - - beckya Lemen-Hogarth is the first of a four part series explaining the benefits of MM&T and how to achieve them.

Rebecca, one of our Senior Consultants, has extensive experience of energy audits, monitoring and targeting, BMS and renewable energy and is a qualified International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) practitioner.

In this issue Rebecca gives an overview of MM&T and introduces the themes of the other three parts of the series, covering:

  • Why the boom in MM&T?
  • The power of data
  • Identifying and verifying energy efficiency opportunities
  • How to avoid the pitfalls of MM&T
  • What should I measure?
  • Hardware and software
  • Intelligent data interpretation

You might also like to consult the following related Insights:

Measuring and verifying energy savings

Click here to see all Intelligent Energy Insight topics

Hear Rebecca speak about MM&T at NEMEX 2014, Sustainability live!

To hear Rebecca speaking about how to make the best use of MM&T to manage energy join us on the ESTA stand H24 at 13.30 Thursday 3rd April.

John Treble, Managing Director

Why the boom in MM&T?

The rise in popularity of MM&T is being driven by:

  • An increasing awareness of its benefits
  • New Part L guidance requiring extensive sub-metering
  • Roll-out of smart-enabled meters
  • Reporting requirements of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme
  • Increasing functionality making the technology more accessible
  • Falling prices of hardware and software making it more cost-effective

The power of data

MM&T enables a single set of utility consumption data to be used for a wide range of functions:

  • Identification of energy savings opportunities
  • Verification of savings
  • Future forecasting and budgeting
  • Streamlining maintenance regimes
  • Supporting behaviour change initiatives
  • Utility bill validation and energy purchasing
  • Supporting legal compliance

In the current economic climate, the highest priority of most organisations is saving money yet huge opportunities are overlooked almost everywhere.  MM&T enables utility costs to be driven down continuously and prevented from creeping up again.

Identifying and verifying energy efficiency opportunities

At the simplest level, just looking at automatically generated graphs of half-hourly consumption for a day, or daily consumption for a week, will reveal major plant running when not required – such as overnight, at weekends or on bank holidays.  Checking for such departures from desired consumption profiles can be automated using alarms sent by email or text to the person responsible.  Preventing such waste is usually a simple matter of changing settings on time clocks or the Building Management System.

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Other opportunities require a more forensic approach and some site knowledge.  For example, building X uses gas to provide space heating and domestic hot water.  Using degree day regression analysis we can identify what proportion of the consumption is weather dependant.

The monthly gas consumption which cannot be attributed to the local weather conditions is 6,800 kWh.  Across a year this equates to 82,000 kWh (27% of the buildings annual consumption), with an estimated cost of over £2,100, representing a significant savings opportunity.

The above consumption is predominately due to the provision of domestic hot water (DHW); a site survey found the main boiler plant was being used to heat a 400L DHW storage vessel.  The only demand for DHW came from 6 hand washing basins (in two banks of 3).  In this case a recommendation was made to use two electric under sink water heaters controlled on time switches to service the sinks and remove the DHW storage vessel and circulatory system.

Using the regressi3450_21image2 - - beckyon analysis above, the gas consumption for the following year was forecast (20 year degree day averages were used) and the second chart compares forecast and actual consumption.  It illustrates how implementation of the recommendation reduced June, July and August consumption to zero and all monthly figures dropped consistently; the actual saving achieved was 26%.

How to avoid the pitfalls of MM&T

In our experience there are seven key reasons why systems don’t deliver:

  • Poor specification
  • Inappropriate choice of hardware and/or software
  • Inadequate installation/commissioning/training
  • Wrong quantity or type of reporting
  • Lack of skill and/or time to analyse the data and make business cases
  • Absent or ineffective implementation based on data analysis
  • No evaluation of outcomes undertaken (savings verification)

To enable you to make an informed decision about metering and monitoring for your organisation, all of the above issues will be addressed in the next three issues of Intelligent Energy Insights.  They are: What should I measure?, Hardware and software and Intelligent data interpretation.  Here is a brief summary of their content.

What should I measure?

Too much data can be just as bad as too little; in this edition we’ll explore how to identify exactly what to measure and in how much detail.  This will include looking at the level of sub metering required in buildings, how to structure your ‘meter tree’ and the role of ‘virtual’ meters in your strategy.  We will also identify the key drivers in energy consumption and discuss the merits of including their measurement in a metering strategy.

Hardware and software

Metering technology is constantly evolving – in this issue well take a closer look at the metering and networking options available, how they work and what site-specific factors may impact your choice of technology.

An even greater array of monitoring software is available, and we’ll also discuss some key features you should look out for and how to choose the best software solution for your needs.

Intelligent data interpretation

Data is only useful if you can understand what it is telling you and turn that knowledge into a targeted plan of action.  Most monitoring software will have some level of reporting built-in but, unless you have the time and knowledge to identify exactly what the data is telling you about your buildings, it is unlikely that you’ll be getting the full benefit of your system.

This issue of will go through some basic analysis techniques and demonstrate the potential of metered utility data, and the measurement of specific energy drivers.  We’ll also look at how trends in energy consumption can help deliver a targeted approach to energy management, the forecasting of future consumption and quantification of savings.

How can we help?

Are you making the best use of data to identify and act on inefficient energy use and save 10-50% of your energy bills?  We can help you to: choose the right metering and software for your circumstances; set up the appropriate level of reporting; spot where energy or water is being wasted; act on the information and verify the savings - or provide a complete outsourced solution.

For more information click the above links or call John Treble on 01761 176300, or email John@GreenConsultancy.com

John Treble

Put us to the test NOW!

For over twenty five years we have been delivering superior outcomes for more than 1000 commercial and public sector clients.

You need not take our word for it - their comments are on every page of this site.

Put us to the test NOW! To discuss your requirements please call John Treble on 01761 419081 or email


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Metering, monitoring and targeting for University of Worcester

We provide metering, monitoring and targeting for the university within a three year contract for energy management involving a consultant being on site for up to three days per week.

"The Green Consultancy have proved to be adept at understanding the requirements of a complex organisation across an extensive estate and have worked with colleagues in the University of Worcester to help us better understand our priorities in relation to carbon reduction.  Their support for the estates team is working extremely well and in addition to resolving issues and making efficiency gains, members of the in house team are also increasing their knowledge base. I would not hesitate to recommend them to others."

Mark Hughes, Director of Estates & Facilities

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