Plug Load Monitoring | Energy Use

Every element of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design is being subject to careful scrutiny—water, waste, landscaping, and more. One area of great attention is the energy use of the building, from the heating and cooling systems of the building to the amount of energy building occupant’s laptops use. Electronic use is monitored through plug load monitoring. This Operations & Maintenance pilot project was tasked to understand plug load usage, monitor it over time, and help determine a plan for effectively managing it for The Kendeda Building.

Creating the Project

This pilot project sought to identify and measure plug loads of specific room types that will be similar to those in The Kendeda Building. Another intention of this project was to work to understand behaviors in the use of those spaces. The project is important because it helps to inform design and can be used at The Kendeda Building to inform the operators and managers about energy loads in spaces. Led by Garry Lockerman, Area Maintenance Manager, and Lance Johnson, Utilities Engineer of Facilities Management, the team set up plug load monitoring in office suites that mirrored suites that will be in The Kendeda Building. These spaces were some Clough Commons classrooms, office suites, student common area (CULC), a Biomedical Engineering Building computer lab and maker space (BME), and the Technology Square Research Building (TSRB) GVU prototype lab.

Tool Selection

Garry and Lance shared that the tool they selected to monitor the plug loads can be used remotely. Even outside the duration of the project, information continues to be collected to help influence design decisions. Additionally, the data is collected on a cloud which in turn makes it accessible to numerous users across campus. These features are helpful as they provide a broader time-span of time for data collection and the opportunity for more analysts to review the data.

Lessons Learned

Of the combined energy consumed, the TSRB GVU prototype lab used the most energy, 36%, followed by BME, 34%, with CULC using 30%. The computer lab in BME had a fairly constant plug load with little variation twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week. This indicates that the equipment may not be operating in low power or 'sleep' mode when not in use. The A/V equipment used the most energy in CULC, with the flat screen using power twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week, followed by the open office area that also had power consumption twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week. The realization that electronics were still pulling a large amount of energy even if “sleep” or “off” mode was surprising. This greater awareness equips the Georgia Tech team to both lower individual users energy use and to meet the reduced energy use requirements of The Kendeda Building.