Building owners and managers today rarely have good information about which devices are using how much energy, or when; in large buildings they often don’t even know what devices are present or where. The information problem is greatest for “plug loads” — Miscellaneous and Electronic devices principally — that are an increasing fraction of residential and commercial building energy use. This lack of knowledge impairs effective decision-making about changing device operating patterns, maintenance, and replacement.
We could have a future in which every energy-using device keeps track of its own energy use, and can report that and related information to the local network. We call this “Energy Reporting”, and working towards that future is the goal of this project.
Energy Reporting is intended to be a low-cost feature, and in most cases, a no-cost one. There are some devices today that actively monitor and track their own energy use with dedicated hardware, and the cost of doing this is rapidly dropping. Most devices can produce reasonably accurate values by estimates derived from internal operational information alone. While it is possible to add a network connection solely for the purpose of Energy Reporting, in general the feature will simply be added to devices that already have a network connection for some other purpose — and in the long run, everything will be networked. Energy Reporting should come to be seen as a basic feature that any product has, as fundamental as being safe to use.
How it Works
The image below shows the overall architecture for energy reporting. The base case of operation is each individual device reports its own energy use to a central entity within the building. Any sharing of data outside of the building is optional for the building owner, and that decision can be made at one place.
For this to work, a standard protocol (or a few) needs to be implemented by manufacturers in all devices, but today there are too many protocols, with incompatible data formats, greatly impairing the deployment and use of Energy Reporting. LBNL recently surveyed many protocols for how this topic area is treated, and documented those results in a report.
LBNL Energy Reporting Project (2016-2019)
The project was a comprehensive strategy to make the energy use of all plug loads observable, thereby enabling users to more easily control those loads to save energy, with four technical tasks as follows:
Create prototype hardware devices that implement energy reporting.
Define standard data models and protocols to communicate energy data.
Create and test reference management system software that can receive and process reported energy data and control plug-load devices.
Propose changes to energy codes and standards to require the energy-reporting functionality in all plug-load devices.
Report on Draft Protocol Structure and Data Model.
Slides from first meeting of project Technical Advisory Committee meeting, October 27, 2017.
Bruce Nordman, 510-486-7089, BNordman@lbl.gov