New guide outlines best practices for cutting energy used by plug-in devices

July 19, 2012–The number of things office workers plug into the socket is growing rapidly. To help commercial building owners and occupants get control of the energy used by office equipment and other electronic devices, New Buildings Institute (NBI) today released the Plug Load Best Practices Guide. The guide, based on research by Ecova and NBI for the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, offers actionable information on how to save money by reducing plug load energy use in office spaces.
On average, plug loads account for 15-20 percent of electricity use. For offices that have already improved the efficiency of their lighting and HVAC systems, that number can be as much as 50 percent. The impact of plug loads can be reduced by up to 40 percent through a combination of no- and low-cost steps such as aggressive power management settings, inexpensive hardware controllers like timers and advanced plug strips, and occupant-based strategies. When the time comes to replace equipment, thoughtful procurement of new energy-efficient models can also lead to lowered energy bills. The guide also gives advice on how to manage energy used by computer server rooms.
According to NBI Senior Project Manager Amy Cortese, “Owners, tenants, purchasing managers, IT directors and building occupants all have a role in managing plug load energy use. Our goal with the Plug Load Best Practices Guide is to help them establish a workable plan for cutting that energy use.”
In offices, the largest plug load energy users are computers, monitors, imaging equipment, server rooms and computer peripherals. The guide outlines steps for selecting the highest efficiency equipment for a given job when it’s time for replacement. “Simple equipment upgrades and making sure that control settings in most office equipment are enabled can make a huge difference,” said Cortese.
“Through this research, we found that occupants can and should play a significant role in managing energy use,” she said. “This guide will help office managers engage tenants and occupants in learning about these simple measures and ultimately reducing their own energy and utility costs.”
The Plug Load Best Practices Guide is part of New Construction, a set of NBI-developed tools and resources designed to help improve the energy performance of commercial buildings, and is available at Funding support for development of the guide was provided by the California Energy Commission’s PIER Program.
About New Buildings Institute
New Buildings Institute (NBI) is a nonprofit organization working collaboratively with commercial building professionals and the energy industry to promote better energy performance in buildings, including advocating for advanced design practices, improved technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.
About New Construction®
New Construction is a suite of tools and resources developed and managed by NBI that helps commercial building professionals create and operate energy-efficient, high performance buildings. Utilities and public benefits programs in the U.S. and Canada support the development of New Construction tools. For more information, visit