Army Energy Action Month: conserving energy in office environments Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 October 2017
By Rebecca Wingfield
Special to GUIDON

The theme for this year’s Army Energy Action Month is “Energy Resilience Enables Army Readiness”.  The theme was announced in the Sept.8  “Bugle Call” written by J. Randall Robinson, the Acting assistant secretary of the Army. In a quote from Robinson, he said, “the decisions we make in energy and water, both in our facilities and in the operational space, directly affect readiness.  The Army is laser focused on resilience, which is the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to changing conditions and withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions.”

Quoting from the “Bugle Call,” “Energy is Key to Everything the Army does, so secure and reliable access to energy, water and land resources is vital for the Army to perform its mission and to conduct and support global operations. The Army must improve access to energy and water by reducing energy consumption, providing alternative sources of energy and increasing reliability of systems and infrastructure.”  

In this article on energy conservation measures which are low cost or no cost concerning plug loads, and other energy conservation measures in office spaces on the installation, we will examine some facts about the changing office energy environment in today’s offices.   

Plug loads that are unrecognized and uncontrolled can drain as much as 30 to 50 percent of the office energy budget depending on what research you read.  What is a plug load?  Plug loads are any devices that plug into a building’s electrical system.   

Plug loads are an important source of energy use in an office.  Electronic devices are evolving rapidly. Gone are the old days when all equipment simply was “on” or “off.” Now, there are a variety of power levels or power modes to choose from in the operation of equipment in your home or office.  Most of us have heard of “sleep mode” for our computers, etc. This is an example of a “reduced energy use” mode.  These lower power use modes or power use level settings still use power which is not necessary to use when the office is closed for business at the end of the day except in certain cases.  This is a prime example of a "vampire" plug load. This energy usage provides no benefit to the installation or the Army; and just uses energy dollars that could be used elsewhere.   

We are all aware that our computers and office printer/copiers need to stay on for security patches and updates during the evening and overnight hours.  That however, does not mean that the monitors, amplified speakers, and other computer peripherals need to be energized to update our computers and printers.  Get into the habit of turning off your computer monitors.   For DPW training for Building Energy Monitors (BEMs) I constructed an example of energy savings based on the power usage of the two monitors I have on my work station by an assumed installation wide number of similar monitors. For my assumption of 20,000 similar monitors post wide, we could save $18,564 per year just by everyone turning off their monitors at night and on the weekends, by not letting the monitors go into sleep mode.  This is just one installation.  If 100 installations about our size did this, the Army could save about $1.9 million annually just by turning off our monitors at night and on weekends.  That is significant energy savings that would cost us nothing to do, but change our behavior minimally.

(Editor’s note: Wingfield is the energy manager for the Directorate of Public Works.)


Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 October 2017 )