Legrand: Six ways to reduce energy usage in commercial facilities

by Brianna Crandall — March 3, 2017 — Reducing energy usage has long been a focus for facilities and operations managers, notes global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures Legrand.  Not only are costs and meeting codes a concern, but so is measuring up to the social expectations of being a good corporate citizen.

Many energy-saving technologies come with large monetary outlays and often require longer-term planning. But there are also a host of solutions that can quickly, easily and inexpensively deliver significant savings. Legrand highlights some of the most important solutions below.

Room/area occupancy sensors

Many areas within a facility might not be occupied for extended periods during the work day, such as conference rooms, restrooms and storage rooms. When these are added to all those areas that are unoccupied after hours, the total energy usage and costs can really add up. Room and area occupancy sensors can turn off the juice when it is simply not needed.

If budgeting is a challenge, start small by installing some occupancy sensors in the least occupied spaces, and then slowly expand coverage. The additions will ultimately pay for themselves many times over.

Wall switch dimmers

Lighting dimmers are an often overlooked, yet very effective energy savers, and dimmers combined with timers or occupancy sensors are very effective energy reducers.  One common best practice is to set the starting lighting level at 50%.  If more light is needed, it can be turned up.

Not only do dimmers save money by reducing energy usage, but they can also extend bulb life. Incandescent and halogen bulbs have been shown to last up to 20 times longer when used with a dimmer, which is money in the pocket. And when used with LED bulbs, the savings can be greater still.

Plug load controls

Essentially a high-tech, large-scale, more customizable version of the occupancy-sensing power strip, plug load controllable and wireless receptacle controls help eliminate vampire power draw throughout an entire building.

Products like Legrand’s Wireless Receptacle Control products leverage lighting control sensors for improved return on investment (ROI). Plug load controls provide an estimated 10% energy savings and meet new energy codes that require that 50% of all 15 & 20A, 125V receptacles be controlled automatically in areas such as private offices, open offices, modular partitions, and computer classrooms.

Digital daylight controls

Why do we waste energy in spaces that are already well lit by natural light?  The answer is: We don’t have to! There are a host of daylighting controls that automatically reduce electric light levels based on the amount of natural light available through windows or skylights.  These devices, such as dimmers and photosensors, can reduce energy consumption by as much as 40%.

Shading systems

Shades can reduce heat, glare and energy cost. While we usually enjoy having natural sunlight coming through the windows, the heat from the sun can affect the heating / ventilation / air-conditioning (HVAC) load. Easily manage natural light for energy savings with automatic motorized shades, which can be programmed to rise and lower to keep lighting and temperature at optimum levels.

Occupancy-sensing (OS) power strips

Power strips draw electricity whether or not the devices they serve are turned on.  So, even if equipment is in use 8-10 hours per day, the power strips draw energy 24 hours per day.  Considering that many of the devices that are plugged into the power strips are left on unnecessarily, it is evident how much energy is wasted.

Occupancy-sensing power strips have a motion sensor that senses when a room or area is no longer in use and automatically shuts off power to individual outlets. Because there may be devices that must receive power at all times, many power strips offer a number of “live” outlets that receive power 24/7. OS power strips give an added level of energy usage control for non-critical devices that do not need power during unoccupied periods.

For more information on the company’s energy-saving products, visit the Legrand Web site.