Validating the Impact of Plug Load Reduction on Achieving Deep Energy Retrofits

Open Access
Graduate Program:
Architectural Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 27, 2012
Committee Members:
  • David R Riley Ii, Thesis Advisor
  • plug load
  • energy-efficiency
  • deep energy retrofit
  • energy audit
Increasing energy prices, perceived shortage of traditional energy resources and increasing carbon emissions have increased the attention paid to climate and energy issues. These issues are expanding the potential market for energy efficiency retrofits in commercial buildings since it is not viable to reconstruct all the existing inefficient building stock. There is an urgent need to change current energy-efficiency practices and rein in energy consumption. Existing commercial building stock in U.S. is currently being retrofitted at a low rate. Moreover, the current retrofit projects typically do not provide deep energy savings. The actual market for energy retrofits is small compared to its potential due to a variety of barriers. Conventional approaches to energy retrofits focus on individual energy efficiency measures and do not consider the interactions between building systems. To advance the energy retrofit process, it is vital to understand how buildings use energy. This issue typically prevents accurate predictions of baseline energy use and the technical potential for energy reduction in a building. In this context, building plug load is generally ignored or underestimated, and its potential for energy savings is underutilized. This research examines two case studies through plug load field monitoring to characterize plug loads in office buildings. Data obtained from case studies and existing literature are used to construct improved case scenarios to reduce plug loads in a large office building that is undergoing a deep energy retrofit. The effectiveness of plug load reduction strategies and their interaction with the other building loads in office buildings are evaluated through whole building energy simulation to provide quantitative outcomes to reveal the relationship between plug loads and the potential for deep energy savings in office buildings.