Smart plug load management begins with Division 25

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Computers, coffee pots, smartphone chargers, and other plug-in devices consume more than 25 percent of the total energy in a typical office building. When combined with lighting, plug loads account for nearly half of all energy usage, even in green, high-efficiency buildings.

But compared to HVAC and environmental systems, plug-in devices are often overlooked by building owners, managers, and other stakeholders looking to save energy. And while it’s easy to dismiss a few smartphone chargers in a single office, an entire building of smart device chargers can dramatically increase plug load consumption.

Managing these plug loads is where Division 25 comes into play. In this post, I will discuss why plug loads matter to building stakeholders, and how Division 25 provides the infrastructure for data sharing that can help improve plug load management and overall energy efficiency.

Plug load management and challenges

To effectively manage a building’s plug loads, stakeholders should consider the energy consumption for all plug-in devices, each device’s power mode (active or standby), and the user activity.

One example of a device that is often in standby mode is a printer. Equipment like printers are often overlooked in discussions about plug load management because they are not actively in use as much as other plug-in devices. However, a printer is always drawing energy, even when it is in standby mode. This “vampire load” from a printer or other inactive equipment can account for nearly 20 percent of all plug load devices, according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

Devices that are often in standby mode can fly under the radar when compared to computers, monitors, and other equipment that consume more energy. This makes managing plug loads especially challenging for building stakeholders trying to achieve LEED certification and increase overall system efficiency.

Understanding how these plug-in devices are used is the key to successful plug load management. The aforementioned GSA research indicates power management is subject to the complexities of the workplace environment. For example, the time it takes a printer to activate may frustrate office staff who may decide to disable the ENERGY STAR® settings that require the device to go into standby mode.

Determining the cause of energy inefficiencies like these can be a source of frustration for a building owner or manager. But what if engineers could give building stakeholders a bird’s-eye view of their building’s plug load consumption, with the data they need to save energy, reduce expenses, and improve overall efficiency?

Use Division 25 to manage plug loads and increase energy efficiency

Using Division 25 specifications, engineers are helping their clients increase upstream and downstream energy efficiency to increase building value. For example, a client may want to upgrade their energy and power management system, also commonly known as an electrical power management system (EPMS), to high-performance levels associated with smart buildings. But this upgrade requires data sharing between the building’s electrical system and the intelligent building management systems (iBMS) needed for plug load management.

Division 25 provides the infrastructure for this data sharing, such as an IoT platform for the plug-in devices to share data, so they communicate and function together.

The analytics generated from this connectivity gives building stakeholders a window into how and when energy is being consumed. This data can help stakeholders:

  • Reduce building occupant complaints
  • Minimize energy costs
  • Decrease unscheduled maintenance

For a deeper understanding of how Division 25 provides these long-term benefits, read the latest Schneider Electric™ use case. In the use case, the Division 25 specification delivered a dramatic increase in energy efficiency compared to the building’s previous conventional relay/contactor retrofits, along with saved labor and materials costs.