New England was hit hard by two storms in the past week: the Juno blizzard and Deflategate. Fortunately we’ve dug ourselves out of Juno -- but we’re still buried in the Patriots’ mess.
Heading into Super Bowl weekend, sports fans around the country are debating what the Patriots did (or didn’t do) with their footballs. Engineers snicker as armchair quarterbacks cite Gay-Lussac’s law in discussing the calculations to determine how temperature and humidity may have affected ball pressure from testing until game time.
One big question revolves around how the ball pressure was tested two hours prior to the game. Did they use a certified air-pressure gauge on each ball or just do the Charmin squeeze on a few of them?
Yesterday it was reported that the NFL officials didn’t even log the pressures they claim to have tested before the game.
So there is no verified baseline.
In energy efficiency, we use high-end metering whenever developing our energy baseline. Unlike NFL referees, who evidently haven’t been logging PSI measurements for any games, our team spends a great deal of engineering time before any engagement begins, determining the most accurate way to measure energy consumption.
We meter over a period of time, log results and photo document readings at the compressor, LED lighting panel, motor or whatever application we’re studying. We track and account for things such as occupancy, production levels and weather. If we need third-party guidance, we lean on accepted protocols such as IPMVP and ASHRAE Guildine 14P, which detail best practices at quantifying energy savings projects.
If a customer or utility representative expresses any concerns, rigorous metering before and after quickly clears up any confusion. If a grocery operations manager asks why she didn’t see planned energy reductions, we simply roll out our metering results, confirm the reductions and present the normalized effect from a hot summer period or busy Christmas holiday season.
While our relationships are always built on a significant level of trust, nothing beats presenting validated results. Even the most cynical managers are won over with a bulletproof report card that shows we conservatively modeled savings and over-performed our estimates. Over the years, we’ve come to look forward to presenting our M&V results.
What the NFL did to track and report performance is akin to our engineers telling customers, “We studied your energy consumption; it seemed high, so we’ll do a million-dollar building upgrade and you’ll save a ton of money.”
During Super Bowl XLVII, a power outage shut down the stadium’s HID lighting -- and the game -- for 34 minutes. It was a very effective marketing message for instant-on, energy-efficient LEDs. Two years later, this weekend’s game is being played under LED lighting, a reasonable timeframe for the correction.
We can assume this time it won’t take the NFL two years to figure out how to take twelve photos of a pressure gauge. In the meantime, a few of our New England and Seattle engineers are awaiting the call to help out this weekend at the game in Phoenix.
Jon Guerster is CEO of Groom Energy Solutions.