ENERGY FACT: MORE THAN 5,000 ORGANIZATIONS WORK WITH ENERGY STAR
TO IMPROVE THEIR BUILDINGS’ PERFORMANCE, INCLUDING 35% OF FORTUNE 500
DOE Releases App for
The DOE has launched a mobile app
that allows users to quickly identify and
share information about power outages and gas stations during energy
emergencies in real time. Taking lessons
from the damage caused by Hurricane
Sandy, Lantern Live is part of the White
House Office of Science and Technology
Policy’s Disaster Response and Recovery
Initiative, which aims to further develop
open data practices for power outages.
As well as providing a real-time look
at power outages from local utilities,
the app also allows users to access
helpful tips and guidelines for handling
power outages and other types of grid
failures. Additionally, the app’s code is
open-source, meaning other developers are free to use and integrate the
code into their own apps for specific
situations and communities. The app
is available free for Android devices
through the Google Play store.
“Lantern Live has the potential to
be a convenient tool for people dur-
ing and after severe weather events,”
says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
4) Try Smart Plug Strips
Consider supplementing power-saving
settings with special plug strips that
use timers, load sensors, or occupancy
sensors to shut off power to certain
devices when no one is using them.
A strip with a timer can reduce energy
at night and over weekends, while one
with an occupancy sensor could be
used to shut off some devices (such
as speakers or the monitor) when no
one is present. Some models cut power
to selected peripherals whenever the
computer enters, sleep, standby, or
“This still requires behavior
intervention in terms of showing
occupants the plug strips and explaining
what they do, but the technology
supports their actions,” says Foster
Porter. “They don’t personally have
Slash Plug Loads in 6 Steps continued from page 13
to turn off the printer, speakers, and
5) Centralize Equipment
Imaging equipment like printers,
scanners, and fax machines are the third
biggest contributors to plug loads, Foster
Porter says. If your office has dedicated
printers for every desk, consider
purchasing a shared one and putting it in
a central location.
This strategy offers an added cost
savings, as maintaining one communal
printer requires much less time and labor
than multiple small ones.
6) Work with IT on Purchasing
Team up with your counterparts in
the IT department to make sure energy
performance is included in procurement
specs for future technology purchases.
ENERGY STAR certified equipment is
a good start, but in some cases, you may
be able to find devices that use even less
energy than the ENERGY STAR cap.
“Ensure that the performance
specifications are well matched
with what each workstation needs,”
recommends Foster Porter. “If someone
is only using a computer for email,
light word processing, and surfing the
Internet, they could switch to a Mini
PC instead – it’s less costly than a
laptop but has similar functionality in
terms of processing power and speed of
memory. Those are an option for many
workstations where big computing isn’t
Janelle Penny janelle.penny@buildings.
com is senior editor of BUILDINGS.
When it comes to designing or
renovating buildings, exceeding
code requirements for energy
efficiency can pay for itself – sometimes.
But the uncertainty of whether the extra
performance advantage is worth it can
discourage any additional upfront investment in sustainability.
A new tool from the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST)
could make the tradeoffs between long-term savings and upfront costs a little
Dubbed BIRDS (for Building Industry
Reporting and Design for Sustainability),
the new software gauges energy usage
and materials sustainability, judges a
dozen indicators of environmental performance (including carbon footprints), and
determines costs over nine investment
horizons. Users can assess their building’s
estimated operating energy use against
five building industry standards – four
successive version of ASHRAE 90.1, as
well as the 2009 ASHRAE standard for
high-performance green buildings. This
lets viewers easily determine whether the
BIRDS: The New Building Performance Tool
ments are substantial enough to justify an
investment in energy upgrades.
It can be used with NIST’s other popular
tool, BEES (Building for Environmental
and Economic Sustainability), which measures the economic and environmental impacts of a wide range of building products.
The current version of BIRDS covers 11
building prototypes, NIST notes. Future
versions will include energy retrofits for
existing commercial buildings, as well
as additional flexibility that lets users
further customize the analysis to fit their
A NE W SOFTWARE TOOL lets FMs more easily gauge the tradeoffs between higher first
costs and long-term savings.