Bert Plug Load Solution Delivers Missing Energy Management Piece

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Plug Load Solutions

Welcome to Bert’s new blog, Small Things. As the leading wireless Plug Load Solution supplier, we control over 40,000 plug and hardwired loads in 700 buildings. Even though plug loads are the largest commercial end use, they aren’t well understood. Many ESCOs, building operators, and BAS providers want to learn more about them. Whether it’s information about which devices use the most energy, potential energy savings, or how to implement plug load control, we’re ready to share what we’ve learned.

Bert’s Plug Load Solution for “Everything Else” in the Building

The Bert plug load solution delivers the missing energy management puzzle piece; control and management for small electric loads not connected to Building Automation Systems (BAS). These loads have many names: plug loads, hardwired loads, commercial miscellaneous electric loads, plug and process loads.

The BAS handles HVAC, lighting and mechanical systems, but doesn’t address plug loads. Bert describes these loads – which are outside of a building’s core functions – as “everything else” in commercial buildings. Typical devices include printers, copiers, classroom electronics, vending machines, exhaust fans, break room equipment, window AC units, electric hot water heaters and air handling units. 

Plug loads run 24/7 because they are not managed or controlled. Buildings waste money powering devices in empty buildings. Bert’s plug load management solution uses the existing wireless network to turn devices off when buildings are empty. At the same time, Bert collects and stores real-time granular device, measurement and temperature data for increased efficiency and comfort. As a result, building operators save money and gain valuable insight into building operations. Bert can either be installed as a standalone solution or integrated into the existing BAS.

Bert controls everything else

Plug Load Data from 30,000 Loads

Bert controls devices in school districts, colleges, local governments, office buildings, and sporting venues. In each project, Bert inventoried the number and types of plug and hardwired loads by building.  Bert uses this plug load audit data to calculate proprietary device density factors for different building types. 

This calculation is unique to Bert. In short, we crunch the numbers to calculate the average number of devices – printers, vending machines, charging carts etc. – found per square foot in particular building types. Bert maintains density factors for several different building types, including elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, college academic buildings, academic labs, administrative/office buildings and public assembly buildings.
After the system is installed, Bert collects baseline measurement data from each device.  This data is used for savings verification. In addition, it is analyzed to determine standby energy loads and usage patterns for various device types. 

How Much Energy Do Plug Loads Use Each Year?

While individual loads are small, plug loads are actually the fastest growing source of energy usage in commercial buildings.  In addition, plug loads are also frequently the largest source of energy usage. To put these loads into context:

According to the Department of Energy, devices with non-traditional end uses consumed over 7 quadrillion BTU in 2012. That’s a big number.  In fact, it’s equivalent to the amount of dynamite needed to carve Mount Rushmore 135,800,000 times, according to the Department of Energy’s Direct Currents Energy Unit Calculator .  The calculator uses alternative energy units to make energy consumption easier to understand.

The Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) 2015 forecasts that primary energy consumption from plug loads will grow 27% from 2016 to 2030 and the contribution of these loads to total building energy consumption increases from 36% in 2016, to 43% in 2030 under its business-as-usual scenario.

Standby or overnight loads associated with MELs account for more than 100 billion kWh and $ 11 billion in annual energy costs in the United States alone, according to Energy Star®. In case you’re wondering, that’s the same amount of energy needed for 6,116 Moon Landings.