The number of things office workers plug into sockets is growing rapidly. To help commercial building owners and occupants get control of the energy used by office equipment and other electronic devices, the New Buildings Institute (NBI), Vancouver, Wash., has published the Plug Load Best Practices Guide. The guide, based on research by Ecova and NBI for the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, offers actionable information on how to save money by reducing plug load energy use in office spaces.

NBI said in a press release that on average plug loads account for 15% to 20% of electricity use, and that the largest plug load energy users are computers, monitors, imaging equipment, server rooms and computer peripherals. The impact of plug loads can be reduced by up to 40% through a combination of no- and low-cost steps such as aggressive power management settings, inexpensive hardware controllers like timers and advanced plug strips and occupant-based strategies. For offices that have already improved the efficiency of their lighting and HVAC systems, that number can be as much as 50%. The guide also gives advice on how to manage energy used by computer server rooms.

The NBI is a nonprofit organization working collaboratively with commercial building professionals and the energy industry to promote better energy performance in buildings, including advocating advanced design practices, improved technologies, and public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency. For more information, visit newbuildings.org