Energy efficiency is the least expensive, most quickly deployable, and cleanest of all energy resources, according to research by ACEEE and other organizations. But providing evidence of real and reliable savings is essential to assure funding and public support for energy efficiency programs.
Evaluation, Measurement and Verification (EM&V) demonstrates the value of energy efficiency programs by providing accurate, transparent and consistent assessments of their methods and performance.
Evaluators analyze energy savings and identify causes and effects. They also may recommend program goals and funding levels. They draw on many sources of information, both qualitative (such as focus groups) and quantitative (such as meter readings and demographic surveys).
One central objective of evaluation is to determine how much savings to attribute to an energy efficiency program as opposed to other factors (such as weather). Comparing savings to baseline levels allows evaluators to report the effects of individual measures and entire programs. Estimating the quantitative effects of energy efficiency programs is termed “impact evaluation.”
Evaluators also compare benefits and costs for programs. The benefits may include, but are not limited to: lower greenhouse gas emissions, improved public health, lower energy prices, job creation, increased income, improved national security, and reduced construction expenses for utilities.
Determining how well a program is designed and implemented is another key function of evaluation. Such evaluation efforts are critical to understanding and improving program performance. Analysis of program design and implementation is termed “process evaluation.”
Accurate attribution of the energy efficiency program savings is vital to demonstrate and document that these programs accomplish their goals.
A key resource on evaluation is Model Energy Efficiency Program Impact Evaluation Guide, prepared for the EPA/DOE-led SEE Action network, which involves collaboration between many stakeholders in the United States.