Invisible energy consumption and sustainability
How monitoring assets and analytics can lead to energy and cost savings
Sustainability is a critical part of business strategies in all industries. Most start with the basic steps like saving energy and implementing green practices. Some stretch further, lobbying industry partners to refine best practices for manufacturing using post-consumer materials, buying carbon credits, or engaging employees at home and in the office in a culture of sustainability. All are good and, increasingly, are benefiting the bottom line as well as society and the environment.
There are hidden culprits that thwart sustainability efforts, though. Even with the best intentions and sustainability guidelines in place, corporate, educational, medical, and industrial initiatives can lose steam without clear measurements of success. The answer is simply having data to make informed decisions – decisions that highlight sustainability results and help deliver on a range of organizational goals.
WattIQ, formerly known as Ibis Networks, started in 2013 to solve the problem of wasted (or vampire) energy consumption; power used even when electrical devices are not in use or in standby mode. Vampire loads can account for 35 to 40% of a building’s energy use. WattIQ uses a unique algorithm and machine learning applied at the device level to provide a wealth of data, including energy use, asset utilization, functional properties, and even where devices are located.
From a sustainability perspective, this ability, made possible through a simple smart plug, checks off more boxes than previously possible at the enterprise level:
- Energy usage – know how many kWh each device is using and how frequently and at what time of day/week/month/year the device is actually used
- Maintenance contracts – get the value of costly preventive maintenance contracts that are based on hours of use
- Device health – know in real-time if assets are functioning properly, and make repairs before the problem impacts usage, workflow and budget
- Asset management and procurement – be able to see if more equipment of a certain type is needed, or if current inventory can be re-allocated, shared, or even sold
Joe Fullerton, Energy and Sustainability Manager for the San Mateo County Community College District in California, is recognized nationally for pushing the boundaries on technology integration as a tool for effecting sustainability change. He’s especially passionate about bringing energy to life for students and regularly uses the “Campus as a Living Laboratory.” It is his view that students can best learn by solving real world problems in safe and supportive environments. This has the added benefit of helping create sustainability leaders for the future while helping Joe solve sticky problems around his three-college district today. Among his multitude of awards, Joe has been recognized for an advanced energy monitoring system that he helped implement.
Recently, Joe and his team were able to leverage the WattIQ system to remotely and surgically power down hundreds of devices following COVID 19 induced campus closures. This not only resulted in energy and cost savings since the buildings were not occupied, but resulted in a safe solution for those otherwise tasked with manually shutting down and unplugging thousands of devices.
“As a facilities team serving an educational institution, we have a unique opportunity to engage, empower and enrich learners at every level as we solve sticky operational problems. Optimizing, electrifying and decarbonizing energy supply to address the climate crisis is one of our biggest challenges and we need as many creative minds and willing hands on the issue as possible. Energy, as opposed to water, waste, transportation and the campus biome, is especially challenging to bring to life,” he said. “Systems like WattIQ are helping us do exactly that. With advanced energy tracking, measurement and visualization tools we can better inform and involve learners from all walks while saving money on electricity. And while this technology was initially meant to help us with plug load energy conservation and serve our educational mission, we quickly saw potential benefits of asset management. It has become a multi-functional tool that helps us mitigate risk, deliver organizational value and connect with diverse audiences in powerful ways.”