Baselines for Industrial Energy Efficiency Projects

Establishing Effective, Common-Sense Baselines for Energy Efficiency Projects

Brian McCowan with Philippe Dunsky, Jonathan Livingston, and Mary Sutter for Zondits, November 28, 2013

Effective and appropriate baselines are critical for accurate and defensible estimates of program savings. Energy efficiency program designers, operators, and evaluators often use pre-existing conditions as the benchmark against which they measure energy savings for retrofit projects. For new construction (or replacements on failure), energy codes are typically used to define the baseline. The savings are then projected for the duration of the measure life. This poster presentation shows that the above-stated approaches for baseline development are frequently inaccurate and tend to bias savings (often upwards) compared to a better conceived baseline. Further, these assumptions are often irrelevant for industrial process projects where no code exists and where measures affect productivity.

The energy efficiency equipment market is complex and can change dramatically over time. The flowchart shown in the viewer below can guide you through decision points to help define the baseline according to technology, building type, building codes, and other factors.

This model includes consideration of such factors as:

  • Energy efficiency projects that increase productivity
  • Partial free ridership
  • Defining baseline in the absence of energy code
  • Minimum available efficiency versus market standard practice
  • Measure life and remaining useful life

Evaluators and, in some cases, program implementers in California and New York have started using variations of this flowchart logic-driven approach to estimate savings. Such modified baseline assumptions and approaches will serve our industry effectively in the development of more accurate, defensible, and evaluation-tolerant savings estimates.

[slideshare id=35629150&doc=baselinesforindustrialenergyefficiencyprojects-140608184540-phpapp01]