Sustainability Series | Performance Measurement Plan

Sustainability SeriesBy: Tiffany Richmond

Now that you’ve identified, analyzed and implemented certain measures the last step is to measure, verify and report the performance of the program. The purpose of a performance measurement plan is to provide ongoing accountability, to identify proper savings and measure goal and/or target achievements.

There are best practice documents available for different types of program results. An example in the field of energy reduction is the Efficiency Valuation Organization’s International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP). The IPMVP offers best practices and procedures for measuring and verifying energy savings in a program. The IPMVP approach is focused on confirming reductions of energy and water use but its framework can be extended to other disciplines, such as verifying emission reductions associated with energy efficiency projects.

The IPMVP offers four approaches to measuring and verifying savings:

Retrofit Isolation: Key Parameter Measurement. Savings are determined by field measurement of the key performance parameter(s) which define the energy use of the energy conservation measure’s affected system(s) and/or the success of the project. Measurement frequency ranges from short-term to continuous, depending on the expected variations in the measured parameter and the length of the reporting period. Example: measuring the electrical demand of a retrofitted lighting system.

Retrofit Isolation: All Parameter Measurement. Savings are determined by field measurement of the energy use of the energy conservation measure-affected system. Measurement frequency ranges from short-term to continuous, depending on the expected variations in the savings and the length of the reporting period. Example: electrical sub-metering of retrofitted manufacturing equipment.

Whole Facility. Savings are determined by measuring energy use at the whole facility or sub-facility level. Continuous measurements of the entire facility’s energy use are taken throughout the reporting period. Example: examining the total annual natural gas consumption before and after an HVAC retrofit, using utility bills.

Calibrated Simulation. Savings are determined through simulation of the energy use of the whole facility or of a sub-facility. Simulation routines are demonstrated to model actual energy performance measured in the facility adequately. (This option usually requires considerable skill in calibrated simulation.) Example: creating a building simulation in Natural Resources Canada’s EE4 software, to model the effects of multiple retrofitted systems.

In the table below are some further examples of verification methods used in other areas of sustainability.

Verification Method Guidance Document
Traditional financial audit Reporting Implications of New Auditing and Accounting Standards
Supplier site visit to confirm compliance with labour standards Guidance Document for Social Accountability 8000
Verification of greenhouse gas emission reduction project ISO 14064-3:2006 Greenhouse gases — Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions

Identified in step one and reiterated here is the importance in having a solid reporting framework in place at your company. Data that is transparent, complete and accurate is crucial to effectively measure and verify program results.

Once data is available you can track and report against applicable key performance indicators and any additional metrics that your company deems relevant. It will be important to determine what to do in the instance that a target or goal is not achieved. You might consider a grace period, additional assistance or applying consequences to the business unit or facility that is out of compliance.

When establishing reporting you will need to contemplate the following:

  • Frequency of Reporting. Will reporting be done monthly, quarterly or annually? You might consider a combination such as full annual reports with quarterly updates. There is a trend toward more frequent reporting to enhance transparency.
  • Target Audience for Reporting. Which stakeholders are you reporting to? Possible audiences include shareholders, regulators, employees, customers and the community at large. Do you need to generate different reports for different audiences?

Running a successfully sustainability program is an on-going effort and does not end after completing monitoring and verification activities. Expect changes to happen, on-going updates and continuous reporting to ensure your company is meeting set goals and/or targets. It’s recommended to annually review and update the program depending on changes within your company, developments in the market place and evaluation of program success from the previous year.

Tiffany Richmond has over five years of experience as a marketing professional and is responsible for online marketing strategies at Energy Advantage Inc.

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