Smart Sustainability: Power Control Tools

With plug-in technologies guzzling far more electricity than previously considered, the search is on for ways to reduce usage.

With plug-in technologies guzzling far more electricity than previously considered, the search is on for ways to reduce usage. Controlling human behavior is iffy at best, but new technologies provide an increasingly sophisticated approach that even the owners of multi-tenant buildings may be able to incorporate.

These include “load-sensing” smart power strips, surge protectors and related devices that can be programmed to shut down components or shift them into stand-by mode on a customized basis, such as at night and on weekends according to programmed schedules, or at specified intervals after staffers stop using them, or when a given workstation’s computer goes into standby mode or gets turned off.

Other such devices tap into the same motion sensors used to shut off lights when space is vacated for specified time periods. And some new tools communicate equipment use activity with their developers’ cloud-based infosystems, which program them to turn off equipment at set times or under certain usage circumstances per client preferences – all while closely measuring electricity consumption, of course.

Many of these “schedule-based control” tools provide significant savings at modest costs, and without needing any operator interaction, Sheppy related.

For his part, deCoriolis foresees continued near-term improvements of smart power strips and workstation-based plug load management technologies. But Cortese agreed that it would not be surprising if some forward-looking landlords even start offering these tools and devices as incentives to lure tenants – and perhaps help train their own staffs, as well.

—Brad Berton, Contributing Writer

For more on efforts to control office equipment power consumption, see “The Next Frontier” in the August 2012 issue of Commercial Property Executive.