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About the Uniform Methods Project

The Uniform Methods Project is developing Methods for Determining Energy Efficiency Savings for Specific Measures through collaboration with energy efficiency program administrators, stakeholders, and EM&V consultants—including the firms that perform up to 70% of the energy efficiency evaluations in the United States. The goal is to strengthen the credibility of energy efficiency programs by improving EM&V, increasing the consistency and transparency of how energy savings are determined.

On this page you will find information about the purpose of the project, a description of what is included in the protocols, a list of benefits this project will bring to the stakeholders of U.S. energy efficiency programs, and how the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has structured the project to meet its goals.

Background

Current energy efficiency EM&V practices in the United States use multiple methods for calculating energy savings. These methods were initially developed to meet the needs of individual energy efficiency program administrators and regulators.

While the methods served their original objectives well, they have resulted in differing and incomparable savings results—even for identical measures. These differences can be significant according to a study published by the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network. The inconsistent results have limited the acceptance of reported energy savings.

Protocol Description

Through the Uniform Methods Project, DOE aims to establish easy-to-follow protocols based on commonly accepted engineering and statistical methods for determining gross savings for a core set of commonly deployed energy efficiency measures. The protocols also include:

  • A description of measure and application conditions
  • An algorithm for estimating savings
  • An example of a typical program offering and alternative delivery strategies
  • Considerations for the measurement and verification process, including an International Performance Verification and Measurement Protocol (IPMVP) option
  • Data requirements for verification and recommended data collection methods
  • Recommended program evaluation elements
  • Fall-back options for lower-cost EM&V approaches

The protocols provide guidance on energy savings determinations, which will be available as a reference to improve EM&V practices.

The protocols include the most common residential and commercial energy efficiency measures found in utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs in the United States. DOE will publish the first set of protocols in early 2013, which will address the following energy efficiency measures:

  • Commercial lighting
  • Commercial lighting controls
  • Commercial unitary air conditioning
  • Residential boilers and furnaces
  • Residential lighting
  • Residential refrigerator recycling
  • Residential whole-house retrofits

In addition, the protocols will address some cross-cutting issues for energy efficiency programs such as sample and survey designs. And in the future, DOE will publish protocols for additional efficiency measures.

Benefits

Adoption of the protocols is voluntary, but there are significant benefits for those who adopt them, including the following:

Increased Consistency and Transparency
  • Uniform EM&V protocols make the determination of savings for energy efficiency programs more consistent and increases the credibility of savings estimates.

  • It becomes easier and less costly for efficiency programs to quickly establish good EM&V practices because they no longer have to develop protocols from scratch.

  • Increased consistency simplifies the comparison of savings resulting from similar programs in different jurisdictions; this supports the development of best practices for energy efficiency programs.

Managed Risk
  • Uniform EM&V protocols increase the transparency of savings determinations, which helps a number of stakeholders manage various types of uncertainties associated with energy efficiency programs. Examples include:

    • Helping utility-run programs manage regulatory uncertainty.
    • Enabling resource planners to clearly assess the validity of savings estimates, which allows energy efficiency to be treated on par with new generation options in resource plans.
    • Increasing investor confidence in energy savings determinations, which reduces the financial risk to underwriters.
Improved Energy Efficiency Programs
  • Clearly identifying the parameters used in measuring and calculating the results of energy efficiency programs allows administrators to set EM&V data requirements early on, which improves alignment between implementation and evaluations.

  • The protocols can provide a basis for complying with energy efficiency resource standards.

  • Use of the protocols to measure progress gives stakeholders confidence that energy efficiency goals are being met.

  • The protocols will ultimately reduce EM&V costs for all energy efficiency programs. However, DOE recognizes that even the lower-cost options provided in the protocols may be impractical for small energy efficiency programs, especially those offered by small utilities. Where possible, smaller utilities may consider alternative cost-saving measures such as pooling of measurement and verification resources and jointly conducting evaluations of similar programs through local associations. This tactic has proven effective for small utilities in California, Michigan, and the Pacific Northwest. Alternatively, small utilities may consider either coordinating their measurement and verification activities with regional utilities or adopting the results of evaluations of similar programs implemented by investor-owned utilities.

Strengthened Industry
  • Uniform protocols provide a good technical foundation for organizations or staffs that are either new to or expanding into EM&V.

Project Structure

The structure of the Uniform Methods Project is designed to include input from the EM&V industry and major U.S. energy efficiency program stakeholders. At DOE, the project is codirected by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. DOE has designated the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to manage the day to day aspects of the project. The Cadmus Group is organizing protocol development by working with technical experts throughout the industry.

DOE has convened constituencies from all branches of the energy efficiency industry to help develop the protocols. Technical experts create and review the EM&V protocols, and there is a stakeholder review before the protocols are finalized and published.

The protocols development is overseen by the Uniform Methods Project Steering Committee, which is comprised of major U.S. energy efficiency program representatives, including:

  • Energy efficiency program administrators
  • Regulators from public service commissions
  • Investor-owned, public, and cooperative electric and gas utilities
  • Electric utility associations
  • Evaluators
  • Federal and state agencies involved in energy efficiency programs
  • Energy efficiency advocates
  • Regional energy efficiency organizations.