Smart Plugs Coming to an Outlet Near You

A Message from Falecia Williams, President, West Campus

In 2011, the collegewide operation leadership team developed the energy guidelines for HVAC, lighting and water. This shaped the efforts of Valencia’s Energy Savings program, which just reached the five-year mark with a cumulative savings of $5.4 million.

Most of the low-hanging fruit for energy efficiency (building automation, green building design, HVAC technologies, etc.) and conservation (scheduling to optimize building utilization, thermostat temperature set points, education, etc.) at the College have already been captured.

A significant area that has not been fully investigated or pursued at the College, however, is plug load. Plug load is the current that continues to run to a plugged-in device, regardless of its mode (off, on, sleep or hibernate). This flow of electricity can account for up to 25 percent of the electricity consumed in buildings.

wc-smart-plug-groveIn pursuit of operational efficiency and innovation, Valencia’s Sustainability department, with the assistance of the Office of Information Technology,  will work with Sustain Solutions on a risk-free pilot proof-of-concept on West Campus through the utilization of smart plugs that plug directly into an outlet and can effectively eliminate excess plug load. These devices will enable outlets to work on a set schedule, eliminating unnecessary power usage when outlets are dormant after hours, but will have an override button in the event that a device needs to be used during a scheduled off period. The pilot study will allow us to review data in real time by scheduling approximately 100 devices — when classes are not scheduled — in building 10 and 11. Should the pilot be successful and meet the return on investment expectations, Valencia will consider advancing to a full-campus deployment.

These smart plugs can also be monitored and controlled remotely, which aligns with Valencia’s automation approach to energy solutions. Furthermore, lessons on managing the plugs can be integrated into our future ECMT (Energy Controls Management Technology) A.S. degree, which just received a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The seven-week pilot test is scheduled for late July 2016.

If you have any questions, please contact Resham Shirsat, director, sustainability, at or extension 1830.

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