Sustainability Reporting: Plug-Load Considerations

OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: The Technology of Sustainability ReportingPt. 2: This Page

One often-ignored area of energy consumption is plug loads, which on average account for 3-4 percent of building energy, though they can reach as high as 10-15 percent of the building load. Loads include computers, copiers, printers, vending machines, refrigerators, device chargers, space heaters, and the occasional fish tank or mini fridge. While facility policies can help curb some loads, new technologies offer welcome assistance:

Device settings. Computers are commonly equipped with power-saving settings that can reduce power draw when the device is not in active use.

Timers. These are simple devices that control device power through predetermined power settings.

Smart power strips. They look like a typical power strip, but they have additional features. One model type uses an occupancy sensor to control several outlets on the power strip. When the area is not occupied for a pre-set time, the sensor cuts power to the controlled outlets. Another model type uses a timer to switch power off at predetermined times.

Outlet power monitor. These devices monitor the power consumption through the device and transmit the data wirelessly to a computer, where it can be monitored. Device power can also be controlled through the interface.

Managers have long been responsible for energy management and improving efficiency in their facilities. What is new in this discussion is the disclosure of equipment performance. Whether through mandatory requirement, corporate policy, or investor demand, it is likely to become commonplace.

New technologies that help better monitor and manage the details of energy use provide the additional data for improved measurement, monitoring and reporting as we work toward increased efficiency in our facilities and sharing that performance with others.

Agree? Disagree? Have something to say? We want to hear from you. Visit myfacilitiesnet.com/LaurieGilmer, and "Start a Conversation."

Laurie Gilmer, P.E., CFM, SFP, LEED AP, is an associate with Facilities Engineering Associates and leads the firm's building energy management and sustainability services. She is a published author and most recently co-author the International Facility Management Association's (IFMA) second manual in the Sustainability How-To-Guide Series, EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager. She is also an active member of IFMA's Sustainability Committee.

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  posted on 3/16/2012   Article Use Policy

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