Ray Yun, a doctoral student in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, has developed an intelligent dashboard to evaluate plug load energy savings in the workplace. Office workers who used the dashboard saved 35.4 percent in plug load energy compared to their colleagues.
The dashboard lets building occupants see their actual energy use, see recommendations for ways to save energy and allows the online ability to control plug loads at each desk.
The field-testing of the Intelligent Dashboard for Occupants (ID-O) engaged 80 employees at a Pittsburgh company supported by plug-in devices manufactured by Plugwise, which measure the energy consumption of each device and provide digital on-off control. Office occupants were divided into four groups to evaluate the effectiveness of different interfaces being developed.
Group A served as the control group and was just monitored. Group B participants could see their ongoing energy usage on a dashboard but had no online control ability. Group C could see their energy use and had the ability to control their usage online, while Group D was given energy use monitors, online controls and the ability to use their work schedule on a calendar to control unnecessary plug loads.
After six weeks, Group D participants averaged a 35.4 percent savings in their plug load energy consumption in the workplace. Without the calendar automation, Group C averaged 20.2 percent energy savings, while Group B with information but no online control averaged 9 percent energy savings. Even the group with no dashboard saved 3.6 percent energy, likely through heightened awareness.
The savings were most visible when laptops, computer monitors, lights and phones were turned off at night and during weekends.