2020 Progress Report: Plug Load Reduction at Community College of Allegheny County

Motivation: Energy reduction, cost savings 

Social/Environmental Benefits: Less energy, lower carbon emissions 

Building Area Affected: 1,500,000 ft2 

Project Team: Tim Myers, IT System Administrator; Elaine Sadowski, Director of Energy and Sustainability 

The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) dramatically saved energy through a network-wide power management system which put unused computers to sleep. 

In many offices and computer labs, computers were powered on 24/7, even when not in use. CCAC disabled hibernation on computers to enable remote upgrades and installations, but due to improvements in hardware and software, the college revisited its strategy. 

Using Dell Command Configure, CCAC changed settings on their Dell computers to allow computers to sleep when not in use. CCAC used Microsoft’s Configuration Manager to monitor powerconsumption before and after settings were changed. Configuration Manager is a paid software that can be used by any organization with a Microsoft domain. After sleep settings were adjusted, the college used Group Policy Preferences to deploy Windows power plans, allowing CCAC to create and force energy reduction plans unique to the needs of various computers. These changes led to large energy and cost savings. 

The graph shows daily kWh consumption of all computers before and after the power savings plan was implemented. The energy savings from the new configuration were immediate and long lasting. Energy consumption across all computers dropped from 120,908 kWh/month to 31,708 kWh/month, a reduction of 74%. On average, each computer now consumes 9 kWh/month instead of 33 kWh/month. CCAC’s energy reduction saves $60,000-$75,000 annually.   

[This case study is an excerpt from the Pittsburgh 2030 District 2020 Progress Report, released May 20th, 2021.] 

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