b) How do I establish a baseline?

The baseline is important for the EPC process because the savings achieved are monitored and reported based on the baseline reported. The SANS 50010 defines the baseline as:

"energy  use  representing  conditions  before  the  implementation  of  the  energy-savings  measures under a set of known energy-governing factors or relationships applicable at the time of the baseline measurement period to the activity in question (or both)"

The equation used to calculate energy savings is shown below and it considers any adjustments that can be done and will affect the baseline (Pretorius, 2011). 

Energy saving = Baseline Period Energy Use – Reporting Period Energy Use +/- adjustments. 

From the equation it is clear that energy savings cannot be directly measured since savings indicate an absence of energy use and the impact of the energy efficiency intervention is thus quantified by comparing the baseline and the reporting period. 

Baseline Establishment Options

There are essentially two approaches to determining a baseline. These are to determine your own baseline by installing an energy management system (EMS) or to require the external Measurement and Verification body to establish the baseline for you (here). These two approaches have advantages and disadvantages as outlined in the table below. In summary though, determining your own baseline with an installed energy management system is much more complicated, but allows for more functionality. Requiring the M&V body to establish the baseline is potentially more expensive in the long term, is more limited, but significantly easier to implement. More information on implementing your own energy management system can be found here.


Install Own Energy Management System

Outsource baseline through SANS 50010

Upfront Cost

The initial upfront costs can be high for capital equipment.

The initial upfront cost can be low as measuring equipment only required for specific loads and period

Long Term Costs

Once the system is installed, the maintenance costs are low. Most significant costs are for data transfer

The long term costs can be high, due to new equipment requirements for every intervention

Ease of implementation

Potentially complicated tender

Simple to integrate into M&V tender


Ability to expand the system to give a detailed and continuous statement of energy use in all facilities.

Limited to specific intervention