Bert Delivers – Implementing Plug Load

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Implementing plug load control works best with an experienced partner.  Even though plug load energy savings is considered low hanging fruit, it represents a small piece of many performance contracts.  Therefore, ESCOs must be confident about their partners’ ability to quickly and efficiently deliver maximum energy savings before adding plug load control to a project.

At Bert, we know what we’re doing.  We follow a structured process, designed for performance contracts, that has been refined after installing 30,000 Berts in 700 buildings.  We complete most projects within 6 – 8 weeks, keeping partners and users updated every step along the way.  This post highlights our approach to implementing plug load control.

Turnkey Plug Load Implementations Ensure Success

It’s a fact. ESCOs don’t have the time or energy to manage plug load projects.  Instead they rely on partners with the resources and expertise to manage the entire implementation for them.  ESCOs require turnkey solutions from vendors with the capability to handle everything, including audits, installations and integration services.

At Bert, we see ourselves as more than just a technology company.  We take complete responsibility for the entire project, from preliminary savings through measurement and verification.  In some projects, Bert performs the IGA audit and the hardware installation.  Other times, we train and manage partners selected by the ESCO.  Either way, we do not turn the system over until every Bert is named, grouped and scheduled and the post-installation savings report is created.

Details Matter When Implementing Plug Load

Projects require attention to details. Besides documenting the location and type of each load, it’s also necessary to identify locations that lack Wi-Fi coverage or have other issues preventing the installation of plug load control hardware.  Ideally, this data is shared with partners and end users throughout the project.  For instance, installers need the audit data before going on-site so they know where to go.  Performance contractors and end users want “as-built” documents reflecting up-to-the minute progress.

Cloud-based tools make it possible to keep track of the specifics.  In addition, information such as photos of hardwired inline devices can be shared real-time. Bert’s set of robust iOS and Android audit and installation tools facilitates data sharing. Besides providing instant access to the data, the technology allows Bert  to remotely monitor audits and installations, providing immediate assistance.

Provide easy-to-understand energy savings estimates

Everyone agrees the goal is delivering actual energy savings that are equal to the IGA savings estimate.  In a perfect world, IGA estimates would be identical to the post-installation savings reports. In reality, most projects have minor equipment changes.  Therefore, ESCOs and user must be able to easily compare the IGA and the final “as-built”.

Bert makes it easy by presenting all savings data in the same format.  Whether it’s a Preliminary Savings estimate, an IGA estimate, or a post-installation M&V report, the data looks the same.

To ensure the actual savings are equal to our IGA estimate, we deliberately generate conservative IGA estimates and continue to identify additional energy savings opportunities throughout the life of the project. We are proud of our ability to consistently achieve actual energy savings that exceeds our IGA estimate in many projects.

Decide upfront if projects warrant an IGA

It’s true that implementing plug load control improves most project economics, but not all projects make sense – particularly in locations with extremely low kWh rates or in buildings where devices need to be on all day, every day.  ESCOs often prefer to do an upfront analysis before deciding whether or not to proceed with a project.

Bert’s Preliminary Savings Sheet provides ESCOs with an educated guess about potential energy savings without going on-site. We enter the building types, building sizes and building kWh rates into a proprietary modelling tool that calculates the expected number and types of plug and inline devices by building.  Based on the occupancy hours for each building, the tool estimates energy savings using standby load data from similar devices in previous Bert projects.

Assuming the numbers make sense and the project moves forward, Bert follows up with an on-site IGA.  Estimated counts are replaced with actual counts and savings are recalculated.

If you want additional information about implementing plug load control, please feel free to reference our FAQ guide or reach out to a Bert representative.

 

Can I Calculate Plug Load Savings Without an IGA?

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 Yes, it’s possible to calculate potential plug load energy savings without performing an investment grade audit. Most energy managers do not have the tools or enough information to confidently estimate potential plug load savings for their buildings.  This post will explore different methods to calculate potential savings without performing an investment grade audit.

These estimates will be less accurate than an IGA savings estimate, but they are often sufficient to determine whether it makes sense to proceed with a detailed audit. 

Calculate Estimated Plug Load Savings using Rule of Thumb

When specifics about the number and types of loads are unknown, the following rule of thumb can be used to gauge potential energy savings: 

The yearly cost to power an uncontrolled kW load is roughly $1,000. Powering the load off nights and weekends saves nearly $700 each year since commercial buildings are only occupied about 30 percent of the time.

Here’s the math:

Annual Cost Uncontrolled kW MEL at $.11 kWh
Devices are on all day, every day

8,760 hours on x $.11 kWh rate = $ 963.60

Annual Savings Controlled kW MEL at $.11 kWh
Devices turned on weekdays, turned off nights and weekends

6,132 hours off x $.11 kWh rate = $ 674.52

Use Automated Plug Load Energy Savings Calculator

A more accurate and detailed plug load energy savings estimate can be created with an automated savings calculator like Bert’s Preliminary Savings Sheet (PSS). The PSS estimates the number of common plug loads for each building based on the type of building and its size.  It also includes potential kWh and dollar savings for the project by device type and building.  

Bert uses exclusive data about the number of devices per square foot and average hourly standby loads from earlier projects to estimate savings. The following data is needed for Bert’s model: building types, square footages and kWh rates.  

Contact Bert for a Preliminary Savings estimate.

Audit Buildings For Most Accurate Plug Load Energy Savings Calculations

A detailed physical inventory is the most accurate way to estimate savings. Without this level of detail, it is simply not possible to accurately calculate plug load energy savings.

Record the location, quantity and device type of all plug loads electronically. This makes the savings estimate more accurate.  In addition, ESCOs, installation partners, and the end user can all easily access the data. At the same time, determine the standby load for each device type. Run the IGA saving model using actual audit counts and standby loads.

Compare Measured Overnight Load to Savings Estimate to Verify Energy Savings

Once control and measurement devices, such as the Bert Smart Plug and Inline Series, are installed the savings model should be run again using the ‘as-built” quantities and measured standby loads. Compare KWh and dollar savings to the earlier savings estimates.

Calculate the Reduction in Baseline Load Percentage

Finally, compare the proportion of the Overnight Load to the Baseline Load to calculate the energy savings as a percentage of the total Baseline Load. In most projects, Overnight Load represents somewhere between 30% and 50% of the Baseline Load.

 

 

This percentage varies greatly between projects, depending on occupancy hours, kinds of devices controlled and the daytime energy usage patterns. In buildings with heavy daytime device usage, the daytime load represents a larger proportion of the overall load, so reduction in baseline load will be closer to 30%. In buildings where devices are used less frequently during the week, the daytime and overnight loads will be closer in size.  In these cases, baseline load reduction could be close to 50 percent.

As you look at the percentage, keep in mind that the percentage reduction is not directly related to the project’s kWh or dollar savings.  A lower percentage does not mean that a project is saving less money or fewer kilowatt hours than a project with a higher percentage. It just means that, on a relative basis, the projects with the smaller  reduction percentage has larger daytime loads. 

Breakdown of the Baseline Load

Baseline Load: kWh recorded during baseline data collection
Includes all devices and circuits that will be controlled. Devices operate without schedules, collecting hourly measurement data. Baseline Load is split into two categories for savings calculations: Daytime Load and Overnight Load.

Daytime Load: kWh while the building is occupied
This load varies from week-to-week and can differ from the load recorded during baseline data collection. Devices are scheduled on. 

Building operators seeking detailed information about daytime device usage should use an administrative dashboard like Bert Analysis to analyze and compare daytime energy usage.

Overnight Load: kWh while the building is empty
Also called Standby Load. This load is eliminated once devices are scheduled. Total kWh savings and dollars are equal to the size of this load.

Bert Plug Load Solution Delivers Missing Energy Management Piece

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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.