25 energy productivity terms to understand energy management terms or energy efficiency terms - essential energy productivity vocabulary - energy productivity glossary

ABCs of Energy: Essential Energy Productivity Terms

If you work in the world of energy, it comes as no surprise that the “language” is technically complex by nature. While borrowing terms from a range of disciplines, from physics to finance, energy productivity also has its own set of complicated terms and jargon that are likely to come up in any conversation about energy efficiency.

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the list of energy management acronyms keeps getting longer (IoT, EMS, aM&T, oh my…). To add to the confusion, a bunch of terms sound bewilderingly similar, or are used interchangeably even when they shouldn’t be.

So whether you are a seasoned energy professional or brand new to the energy game, you need to be armed with the right vocabulary – so here’s your arsenal of helpful terms to know.

25 Energy Productivity Terms You Should Know

1. 10% Rule


A no-fuss way to estimate how much your company or client should invest in energy efficiency measures: their energy productivity spend should comprise either 10% of their annual energy spend, or the equivalent of 1 monthly energy bill. Check out this nifty infographic!

2. Automatic Monitoring and Targeting (aM&T)


The automated process of collecting energy usage data, setting a consumption target, and then comparing usage to the target figure. This process enables on-going energy management as well as identification of high-spending areas that may provide investment or savings opportunities. Try it for free!

3. Baseline


Level of energy consumption used as reference when calculating savings on energy efficiency projects. It is established by collecting data on buildings’ energy performance in a period of 12-36 months. A baseline is the theoretical consumption of a company which reflects a complete operating cycle with its maximum and minimum consumption. Learn how to calculate your baseline this way or this other way.

4. Carbon footprint


Total amount of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane) produced to support human activities directly or indirectly. It is expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide. For ESCOs, identifying major emission sources can mean discovering future savings opportunities for their clients. Good news – this is exactly what you’ll learn in our free online training.

5. Datalogger


Also known as a data recorder or gateway, these are small devices that integrate into your building’s MODBUS network to gather readings and send the aggregated data to your EMS. Think of it like an energy “modem” that connects your building to the outside world. Using a data logger means you can get your cloud-based EMS up and running in just a few hours. If you’re curious about how to set one up, check out this article or watch a live training.

6. Data point


A single string of data sent by any device, meter or sensor in your building. The best way to understand a data point is to think about it as a “variable”. When you’re managing energy, it’s important to remember that one meter does not automatically equal one data point. To calculate some examples for yourself, here’s a free template that can help you.

7. Demand response

Mechanisms that encourage consumers to reduce electricity demand during peak times in order to avoid system emergencies and outages. Demand response is the change in power consumption of an electricity consumer to better match the demand for power with supply. This is a different concept from energy efficiency, which means using less power to perform the same tasks, on a continuous basis or whenever that task is performed.

demand response guide

8. Energy efficiency

Doing the same work with less use of energy. Not the same as energy conservation which is more about doing less work.

9. Energy management

An umbrella term that covers anything related to how energy use is tracked, managed, reported on and optimised.

10. EMS (Energy Management System)

A platform used to improve energy performance by detecting, monitoring and controlling energy consumption and costs. A good Energy Management System improves operational efficiency, decreases energy consumption and diminishes environmental impacts. Many tools are used within an EMS platform to gather data, detect inefficiencies, track energy use, monitor peaks and pinpoint anomalies.  

energy productivity terms

11. EPC (Energy Performance Contract)


Contract form in which a supplier (usually called an ESCO) undertakes energy efficiency projects in a customer’s building or facility and guarantees that a set level of savings will be achieved.  Often, but not exclusively, associated with the use of third party finance.

12. Energy Productivity

Energy productivity is defined as GDP per unit of energy. In other words: how much value we create from every unit of energy. For businesses, adopting an energy productivity target also drives activity in 3 areas; retrofit, refurbishment and new build – and helps to balance them within a coherent, and strategic policy. Learn more about this key concept here.

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13. ESCO (Energy Service Company)

Entity that delivers an extensive range of energy services, typically with a guaranteed savings level. These services might include: implementation of energy efficiency projects, energy conservation and energy supply, among others. To find an ESCO near you, use our handy search tool.

14. ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme)

A mandatory requirement set by the Energy Institute, requiring large businesses in the UK to submit an overall strategy and specific measures to manage energy. These businesses must undergo an energy audit every 4 years. To read more about similar programmes, check out this guide to energy regulations around the world.

15. Head-end system (HES)

A head-end system is hardware and software that receives the stream of meter data brought back to the utility through the AMI. Head-end systems may perform a limited amount of data validation before either making the data available for other systems to request or pushing the data out to other systems.

16. HVAC (Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning)

A system that improves indoor air quality by means of adequate ventilation and thermal comfort. To learn about the latest demand-side management technologies for HVAC, join our upcoming webinar featuring a live Q&A with our R&D Director! 

17. IPMVP (International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol)

Internationally recognised protocol that assists in validating savings when deploying energy management projects. The protocol enables you to quantify the energy savings performance of your energy conservation measures (ECMs). 

18. ISO 50001

The first internationally-recognised standard to set out an integrated set of processes and tools to help organisations to implement an energy management system. The standard is voluntary and based in ISO’s Plan, Do, Check, and Act approach. Requirements include setting and meeting energy efficiency targets, using data to make informed decisions about energy use and committing to continuous improvement. Learn more about how to get certified.

energy productivity terms

19. Jevons Paradox

Proposed by economist William Stanley Jevons in the 1860s, the Jevons Paradox states that increases in efficiency will not result in savings, but rather in more expenditure or consumption. Read why it’s important to understand when it comes to energy productivity here.

20. MDM – Meter Data Management

Software that performs long-term data storage and management for the vast quantities of data delivered by smart metering systems. This data consists primarily of usage data and events that are imported from the head-end servers managing the data collection in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) or automatic meter reading (AMR) systems. MDM is a component in the smart grid infrastructure promoted by utility companies.

21. Measurement and Verification (M&V)

M&V is a systematic way of assessing actual energy savings from energy efficiency projects. It grew out of the International Performance and Measurement Protocol (IPMVP) originally supported by the US Department of Energy in the 1990s and is now operated by EVO, an international not-for-profit organisation. 

22. Modbus

A serial communications protocol (language) that enables communication among industrial electronic devices connected to the same network, such as a system that measures temperature and humidity in a factory and communicates the results to an EMS. Modbus is important when defining your metering and hardware strategy – learn more here

energy productivity terms

23. Passive consumption

Energy consumed during non productive hours or throughout the day due to passive loads.

24. SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)

A control system architecture that uses networked data communications and graphical user interfaces to analyse real time data. SCADA is typically used to automate or monitor industrial processes to assist in making decisions by providing real time operational data. Learn more about the difference between SCADA and EMS here.

25. Virtual Audit

A software tool that analyses energy data, weather data and other geographical information to estimate the opportunity for energy savings without ever physically touching a building or installing any hardware. Learn more or perform your own for free here.

Want to learn more about bringing energy productivity to your business? Join our upcoming webinar on this topic:

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