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For many years, greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions accounting was helpful to show how and if governments and organizations met – or not – their national or corporate environmental goals and objectives. These reductions were seen mainly as the logical outcome of policies and government interventions for most laypersons. Not much more.
With the escalating concern over the “built environment” impact on climate change, GHG emissions and the required reductions drive energy efficiency and carbon management interventions.
Organizations are attributing increasing levels of value from:
This is increasing the demand for improved rigour of the associated savings verification. Driven by these concepts, GHG emissions have gradually become a new commodity valued and traded between interested parties.
Valuing GHG Emissions Reduction
A variety of guidelines, standards and protocols continue to emerge and evolve in response to the ever-increasing rigour demanded for carbon accounting requiring that energy savings and associated GHG emissions reduction be measured and verified at the project level.
EVO originally developed the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) to support and help increase investment in energy and water efficiency, demand management and renewable energy projects worldwide. Essentially, the IPMVP provided a globally recognized framework.
The IPMVP is concerned with individual projects. Calculations are performed bottom-up, reducing the uncertainty of the results. A bottom-up approach is likely more accurate for investment purposes, and emissions trading, providing solid baseline evaluation and verified performances through time. Such an approach enhances the intrinsic value of energy savings and GHG reductions.
While EVO’s protocols and application guides do refer to the applicability of M&V outputs for emission trading schemes, we essentially refer the reader to other GHG protocols for further guidance.
Bridging the Gap
M&V Professionals recognize and appreciate the value of utilizing the IPMVP to support emissions reductions projects and programmes, but the wider sustainability profession may not. Given that IPMVP offers enhanced rigour to the energy-related GHG emissions savings verification, then perhaps EVO could consider extending this rigour to the components of, and approaches to, GHG emissions accounting?
But there is potential for the emissions reduction results of an effective energy efficiency project/programme to be perceived to conflict with the results on a contemporaneous GHG emissions inventory/accounting process for the same “boundary.” While an M&V professional will understand the differences between the two approaches to GHG emissions calculations and assessments, the non-M&V Professional may not.
Here’s one of many examples where conflicting interpretations may arise. IPMVP verified energy savings – and associated emissions reductions – could be recognized despite absolute energy consumption – and associated emissions – increasing due to normalizing the baseline for a given project/programme.
It can be argued that this is the same scenario for the layperson’s interpretation of energy savings from an M&V process. As such, there was no need for further clarification in the 25 years that IPMVP has been in play. But there are now far wider stakeholder groups involved in the GHG emissions performance assessment and better clarification of results is potentially required.
Including GHG calculation consideration in IPMVP?
EVO is currently proceeding with a full review of the IPMVP and its application guides. The revised IPMVP and related documentation is likely to include enhanced guidance on reporting the verification of GHG emissions savings from energy efficiency and sustainability projects.
Guidance will be added to specify that the emissions reduction is reported by applying the published GHG emissions factors for any country or territory. That GHG emissions reductions stated are a conversion of energy savings verified from the IPMVP measurement and verification process and are not intended to represent an “absolute” quantification of GHG reductions for the stated boundary and reporting period.
However, going forward could the IPMVP extend further into the carbon accounting space?
With the current revision of the IPMVP, there is a timely opportunity to align measured energy savings and related GHG emissions. M&V professionals, facility owners and the financial community might find additional guidance helpful in valuing their projects.
Further thoughts are welcome.
The IPMVP is recognized globally for its structured yet flexible framework. As we are increasingly concerned with the energy transition, the sound assessment of energy efficiency projects is essential to report credible savings. This is a sine qua non condition if such savings become tradable assets in the global marketplace. While we may not have the time to fully address this in the current IPMVP revision, we should pursue this idea.