Solving the complexity of energy savings calculations using an electronic TRM

Posted on 11th May 2018

Technical Reference Manuals (TRMs) play a critical role in the calculation of energy savings for Demand Side Management programs. TRMs published by the respective utility commissions are commonly in the form of an exhaustive hundreds of pages PDF document. Reviewing measure data and calculating energy savings via spreadsheet methods is a time-consuming activity that has a propensity for a high margin of error. Even still, a small percentage of utilities lack motivation to adopt an electronic version because past attempts at creating electronic TRMs have not been satisfactory. Today many utilities are beginning to look for robust systems that catalogue required measure data, calculate measure savings, and integrate with legacy systems. With the variance of TRMs from one jurisdiction to the other and with the ever-changing landscape of energy efficiency measures, a need has emerged for a central platform to compare measure data, generate measure permutations, and calculate energy savings.

Keys for developing an electronic TRM: Process, Structure, and Content

In our eTRM Whitepaper that was published earlier this year, we defined three key components for developing a system that incorporates ‘TRM Best Practices’. The application of these best practices should be consistent and uncompromised during processes such as development, updates, and the maintenance of measures. This can be achieved by the adoption of a platform that provides a centralized environment for the development of TRMs and reinforces ‘TRM Best Practices.’ It is important to note that certain best practices, such as the definition of measure parameter values and the definition of savings methodologies, rely on the analysis and decision making of entities responsible for the development of TRMs in each jurisdiction. Therefore, the adoption of an electronic TRM supports the implementation of these defined parameters and provide much needed transparency.

For a software system to qualify as the platform for TRM development, it is imperative that the functionalities of the system provide three key components: Process, Structure, and Content. A system that provides these well-defined components will provide a framework for the definition of parameters, the designation of a workflow, and the reduction of inconsistencies in the TRM development process.

Usability – A Driver beyond Components

While the components of TRM development assist in the determination of a workflow, the ease of use plays a major role in the implementation of the system. The system must facilitate what the users would want to achieve through a defined workflow. The electronic TRM (hereinafter known as eTRM) is designed for the collaboration and consumption of TRM developers, energy providers, and consumers.

TRM Development:

The measure development process in eTRM starts with the creation of jurisdictions and the population of attributes that form the measure taxonomy. The system supports the creation of common lookup tables and constants which can be shared by multiple measures across all jurisdictions or can be shared within a single or a set of selected jurisdictions. The characterization of information may differ for each measure based on measure category or jurisdiction. To provide flexibility in the selection of components for each measure, eTRM is equipped with the ability to define Templates. This allows for definition of any number of measure characterization templates by jurisdiction.

Apart from measure characterization information, eTRM has an easy-to-use configuration tool to define constants, lookups, and algorithms for measure savings and incentive calculations. Supporting documents and references for measure specification and saving values can be associated within the measure, providing transparency to all stakeholders.

Collaborative Environment:

eTRM is designed to promote collaboration amongst TRM developers and stakeholders and provides a streamlined process and roles that may defined by the administrator. The workflow feature combined with a Role Based Access Control mechanism allows for the definition of various TRM development processes by jurisdiction as well as the definition of corresponding roles and responsibilities at each stages of the development processes. System notifications can also be defined at each workflow stage.


eTRM is an open platform developed to be the central repository of energy efficiency measures from all jurisdictions. Consumers can review the specifications of any measure, and the calculate estimated energy savings. eTRM is backed by a powerful calculation engine that has the ability to process algorithms from simple expressions to complex conditional based algorithms. Energy savings calculations can be made through API calls from other systems or through a spreadsheet.

About eTRM:

eTRM is developed to be the central repository of energy efficiency measure data for all jurisdictions, with which users can review and calculate energy savings. Administrators can develop measures, and build algorithms based on regional criteria to calculate energy savings.