If you’re not using it, turn it off.

The City of Pittsburgh, BOSS Controls and Carnegie Mellon University found that this actually works.

For the last month the trio partnered for a Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) project that implemented about 100 plug load controls—or smart plugs—on various devices like soda and snack machines, copiers, printers, water coolers and coffee pots in various city and CMU buildings.

The results, presented at the GCTC final demonstrations in Washington, D.C. on June 1, packed quite a savings in energy costs.

“The city can look at a 50 percent average in savings using plug load controls year over year,” says Aftyn Giles, sustainability coordinator for the City of Pittsburgh.

As part of the project, devices were also installed in the U.S. Steel Tower, Black Box Corporation’s headquarters and at ABM Building Solutions, LLC.

“What we wanted to show was that commercial spaces, like those owned by the city, can achieve large and rapid energy savings by implementing plug load controls,” says Greg Puschnigg, CEO of BOSS Controls, an energy management company that designs cloud based, WiFi enabled software and hardware and energy management control systems.

The average office soda machine, for instance, uses from $250 to $300 worth of energy each year.

“And you shut those down when the building closes at night—we’re seeing somewhere between $100 and $150 per soda machine in savings per year,” says Puschnigg.

The GCTC is a collaborative effort of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, US Ignite, The Department of Transportation, National Science Foundation, International Trade Administration Department of Health and Human Services and The Department of Energy. Launched in the fall of 2014, its purpose is to showcase Internet of Things (Io T) technologies and how they could impact cities or municipalities.

Teams were categorized by Io T sectors that included public safety, transportation, general/platform and energy.

”What they wanted was teams that consisted of some sort of tech company, a municipality or city and somebody from academia as well. We’re one of the few cities that have all three,” adds Puschnigg. “It fit in to their 2030 (Green Building) alliance and all the other initiatives they have going on so it was a natural extension of what they are doing.”

Based on the success of the GCTC, Giles says that the city is interested in adding more BOSS smart plugs to its buildings.

Additionally, BOSS Controls and the city will propose use of the smart plugs in other 2030 Districts as Cleveland, Seattle, Los Angeles and with organizations like the Building Owners and Management Association (BOMA) and universities.

Laurie Bailey

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.