Be a Control Freak: Find the Energy Leaks in your School

a guest post by Tim Hogan, Vice President – Education Market at Acuity Brands Lighting

Be a Control Freak: Find the Energy Leaks in your School

I encourage people to understand where they are spending their energy and where we want to spend it. I recommend a tool called a Data Logger. And I don’t know how many of you have tried this, but it is a great way for facility leaders to do their homework.

The Data Logger is about the size of a hockey puck and it has a sensor and a photocell. They come in a case of about 40 and you spread them throughout your campus. The point is to distribute the 40 sensors in a way so that the data you collect is representative of the entire campus. And what happens is it pulls back a lot of data and after three weeks you collect all of the sensors, plug them in and your computer sucks the data out and runs reports. Now you can now see exactly when the lights are on and exactly when the space was occupied.

The great news is all the data gets pulled into a simple bar chart that you can give to the boss. This example is from a high school. What you can see is when the spaces were unoccupied completely we would save 42% of the lighting energy just by turning the lights off.

High School Report Lighting in Unoccupied Spaces

The blue bars represent when the light is on and the red bar shows when the space was occupied. You can see someone turned on the lights in the storage room and forgot to turn them off after they left. This is a huge opportunity for savings. Another good example here is the locker room. We definitely could save some money there by turning off the lights.

Here is one that was done in a middle school. In this school we see that restroom lights were on all the time and the spaces were unoccupied about a third of the time. The gymnasium has the same problem.

Middle School Report Lighting in Unoccupied Spaces

We have done aggregated versions of this Data Logger data to basically six aggregated reports. There is a report for small, medium and large K12 schools and a small, medium and large university building.

What I tell people is you don’t have to do the homework. You can copy and cheat somebody else’s. It’s going to be just about right, but if you want to show a significant before and after state this is a great project to do. You do the data logger project. You do sensor project in certain key areas. Then redo the data logger project and now you know the results of the project and the ROI when you scale it across the entire campus. It’s a great way to move forward in a scientific way.

Have a Graybar Lighting Specialist contact you about starting a data logger assessment.

Stay tuned for the next article: Improving User Experience with Sensor Technology.

Tim Hogan

Tim Hogan works with educators, facilities directors and design professionals to improve lighting solutions for both K-12 and Higher Education campuses. His articles have been published in numerous magazines for education facility designers and managers. He is a frequent presenter at local, regional and national events. Acuity Brands is one of the world's leading providers of lighting equipment, solutions and services.


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