With office building occupancy rates down 96% , recent research shows that average building energy consumption was still at approximately 84%, and in some cases, up to 97% of full-occupancy energy consumption levels .
As a result, organizations are looking to align occupancy with overhead and reduce facility operating costs. A trend revealed by the recent fall in building occupancy indicates significant inefficiencies in building energy operations, even as buildings stand mostly empty. Even considering that building operators must maintain a baseline level of activity to be able to perform building maintenance, the misalignment between energy consumption and occupancy presents significant inefficiencies and a compelling optimization opportunity. As most companies begin implementing phased return-to-work programs, with some timelines indicating a return to full occupancy as late as Q2 2021, the occupancy-energy consumption trend noted above presents an opportunity to significantly reduce operating costs and carbon footprint in the coming months.
Sapient gives users the ability to dynamically control every piece of equipment in their space from a centralized web application
A possible solution may lie in plug load, which is all of the energy consumed by all the devices and pieces of equipment plugged-in throughout a building.
These devices and pieces of equipment contribute to “parasitic load”, or energy consumed by devices in standby mode or simply left on when the building was vacated. While these devices and pieces of equipment may look harmless, they are constantly drawing energy and can significantly drive high utility costs. Plug load currently drives on average 30% of building energy consumption, and is expected to grow to nearly 50% by 2040 . This is partly due to optimizations in HVAC and lighting systems, but also by the ever-increasing density of plugged-in devices in our buildings. For many buildings, it represents the final frontier of bringing incremental efficiencies to their energy operations.
Sapient’s platform learns occupant behavior and understands not only the precise type of equipment plugged into every single socket in a building, but also how occupants are utilizing that equipment
Now more than ever, leveraging a long-term solution of automated plug load management may be the key to significantly reducing building operating costs driven by energy consumption. Philadelphia-based tech start-up, Sapient Industries, has developed a machine learning-driven technology to accomplish exactly that. Sapient’s platform learns occupant behavior and understands not only the precise type of equipment plugged into every single socket in a building, but also how occupants are utilizing that equipment. Deploying controllable IoT sockets at every single outlet in a building, Sapient gives users the ability to dynamically control every piece of equipment in their space from a centralized web application.
Sapient’s software has the capacity to intelligently turn off any plugged-in device and significantly reduce utility bills. Whether it’s turning power off in an unused area of the building, or allowing power to be supplied only to the workstations that are going to be being used that day, the system can analyze and inform where and when energy should be delivered. Ultimately, the system enables facilities managers to make informed, granular decisions about how power is distributed and utilized in their buildings.
In addition, facilities managers can leverage the equipment and workstation utilization data to enhance and enforce social distancing protocols in the post-COVID workplace environment. The Sapient platform allows building administrators to control power delivery to each individual workstation in their facility. In order to ensure that employees are following social distancing protocols, building administrators can deactivate specific workstations by cutting power delivery to them and ensure that employees are working at safe distances.
Under circumstances where workstations are used intermittently during different periods of time, or for facilities with hoteling arrangements, the Sapient platform can provide insight into whether employees are following social distancing protocols and alert administrators to instances or periods of concurrent adjacency, or when employees were working concurrently at unsafe distances, creating a contact audit trail based on granular energy data and advanced analytics.
If you’re interested in learning more about how plug load management can help drive energy efficiency in your building and enhance social distancing protocols, you can find more information here.