Energy conservation is a global concern, and governments worldwide are developing policies to place mandates on consumption. These regulations will require programs and protocols that track and isolate ways to reduce usage. California has developed a new metric based on normalized metered energy consumption, or NMEC. These regulations provide energy savings data that help improve building performance.
What is NMEC?
NMEC is sometimes referred to as Measurement and Verification (M&V). In particular, California has an M&V budget through the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to evaluate energy savings potential and improve delivery methods for current energy-saving programs.
NMEC was developed to provide a more accurate way to measure how much energy efficiency you can get out of a building retrofit project. What NMEC does is normalize all the variables that can affect the overall efficiency of a retrofit. Some of the variables that NMEC takes into account from the existing building to the newly retrofitted building are:
- Climate changes
- Building usage changes
- Building operational changes
- Efficiency improvements
Goals of NMEC in Improving Energy Efficiency
Using this type of exacting methodology focuses on achieving three goals:
- Lowering M&V costs - NMEC provides specific data that can eliminate the need for costly engineering estimates. Software that calculates the exact conditions from metered data can provide real-time information for allocating funding and creating more specific regulations.
- Using a grid resource for energy consumption - Having specific data on grid consumption quantities and timeframes informs usage criteria for utilities, such as peak times for electric car charging.
- Quantifying value - As a measurable means of tracking energy efficiency, this encourages building owners of the value of the investment. This also gives building operators better insight into their buildings energy use and what consumption benchmarks to set.
Implementing NMEC in Building Operations
In theory, the process of gathering real-time data seems simple. While the concept is straightforward, infrastructure must be in place to aggregate this type of data. Measurements must be taken at the equipment level to provide specific data that can then be aggregated on a building level. The process for putting NMEC in place is as follows:
- Metering devices - Smart metering devices must be installed at a micro level on all energy consuming equipment–or at a more macro level depending on a project's budget. Chillers, HVAC systems, and electrical and lighting panels can all be equipped with smart meters that communicate back to an automation system where energy consumption, power consumption, and peak load times are captured.
- Building automation systems - This is the ‘brain’ of the building that allows the building owner to control system operations for building comfort and energy consumption. With smart meters, they can also aggregate the power consumption from specific equipment and building areas.
- Software - NMEC software can use the data captured by the Building Automation System and generate real-time charts and graphs giving a picture of building usage. Data is also used to make projections and consider variables such as humidity, temperature, high occupancy, and other factors.
- Data analysis - The end-user can use the data provided to make decisions about building operations and energy savings programs. This gives a clear picture of where and how improvements from a retrofit project have improved energy efficiency and provides data necessary to make adjustments for further improvements.
NMEC eliminates the guessing game associated with unknown variables in a building that can negatively affect energy consumption and gives a clear picture of where and when there is usage.
For more guidance on building energy management, check out our Enterprise Energy Management Best Practices Guide outlining how to pull real-time building data and how to use building analytics to predict energy consumption and budgets.