Energy End-Use Forecasting
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Energy-Efficiency Improvements in U.S. Office Equipment

Project Description

The electricity used by common office equipment - computers, monitors, printers, copiers, and fax machines - represents a significant portion of the electricity used in commercial buildings. Reducing the amount of electricity consumed by office equipment has important environmental and economic benefits.

In the early 1990s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR®, a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products. Since that time, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), EPA has introduced programs for more than twenty product types including office equipment. The ENERGY STAR program is the foundation of efforts to address office equipment efficiency and has transformed the market so that most office equipment sold today has significant energy-saving capabilities.

Despite the success of ENERGY STAR to date, there is still important work to be done in the area of office equipment efficiency. Researchers in LBNL's Energy Analysis Department (EAD) are involved in reducing the energy consumed by office equipment in a number of different ways:

- working to educate office equipment users about energy-efficiency strategies;
- estimating potential energy savings and evaluating technology performance;
- providing technical support to EPA for the design of ENERGY STAR office equipment programs; and
- helping to design and encourage the development of more efficient office equipment.

Specific projects in these research areas are summarized below.

User Education

Power Management: Power management reduces energy consumption when personal computers and monitors are not in active use. As of early 1996, EPA estimated that upwards of 70% of all new PCs and nearly 100% of all PC monitors sold had power management capability. However, power management can only save energy if it is enabled and working properly. Unfortunately, many computers with power management capability are not saving energy - because they were never enabled, because they were actively disabled, or because of interference from the various elements of the computer system or network. Researchers in EAD's Building Energy Measurement and Performance Analysis (BEMPA) group and Energy End-Use Forecasting group have published a guide to inform users about power management options for PCs and monitors and how to take advantage of these options. See #4 in the "Publications" list below.

Office Equipment: Researchers from BEMPA and San Francisco's Bureau of Energy Conservation have created a guide to help motivated people within organizations better understand the electricity use of their office equipment and to design programs to reduce electricity consumption. In addition, the report contains information the researchers collected, using field tests and measurements, regarding the non-energy-related performance of ENERGY STAR equipment (e.g., compatibility with networks and user response). See #6 in the "Publications" list below. The researchers have also created a website that summarizes on-line resources providing information on reducing the energy use of office equipment.

Reducing Paper Use: With funding from DOE, BEMPA researchers have created a website that provides motivated office workers with information about how U.S. consumers use office paper (for copiers, computer printers, and fax machines) as well as what can be done to reduce paper use. Reducing paper use saves significant energy in production.

Estimating Potential Energy Savings and Evaluating Technology Performance

Power Management: Using detailed monitoring and night-time surveys, researchers assessed the energy performance of power-management-capable PCs and monitors. Based on estimates of the power used in each operating mode and the amount of time spent in each mode, researchers estimated the energy used by PCs and monitors, and the existing and potential savings of power management. Study results indicate that monitors are more likely to successfully power-manage than are PCs and also save more energy per unit when power-managing. A report on this study is listed under "Publications" below. The report also contains information the researchers collected, using field tests and measurements, regarding the non-energy-related performance of power-management-capable equipment (e.g., compatibility with networks and user response).

Assessing the Performance of ENERGY STAR Copiers: This study compared the energy performance of conventional copiers with ENERGY STAR-compliant copiers. Based on detailed monitoring and late-night building walk-throughs to estimate the current electricity use of copiers, researchers estimated the existing savings from the ENERGY STAR copier program as well as potential further savings. Study results indicate that copiers use considerably more electricity (about 7 TWh/year in the U.S.) than previously estimated because so many of them are left on at night. While the ENERGY STAR program is responsible for considerable electricity savings already, higher enabling rates could increase savings significantly. Using field tests and measurements, researchers also examined aspects of copier performance that were not energy-related (e.g., compatibility with networks and user response). A report on this study is listed under "Publications" below.

Estimating Impacts of Policies Promoting Efficient Office Equipment: Funded by DOE, LBNL researchers developed a detailed end-use forecast of office equipment energy use for the U.S. commercial sector. This study examined the likely impacts of the ENERGY STAR office equipment program as well as the potential impacts of advanced technologies. Study results indicate that likely energy and dollar savings in the commercial sector from the ENERGY STAR program are significant on a national scale, approaching $1 billion per year by the year 2000. Significant additional savings may be achieved from advanced technologies if these technologies can be reduced in cost from current levels. A report on this study is listed under "Publications" below.

Technical Support to EPA

Multifunction Office Equipment: LBNL staff (particularly Jonathan Koomey and Alison ten Cate) worked closely with EPA to design the ENERGY STAR program for multifunction office equipment. EPA launched this program in March 1997. Obtain copies of the Memorandum of understanding for this program (or any other ENERGY STAR office equipment program).

Technological Improvements

Copier of the Future: LBNL has been providing technical support to the International Energy Agency's Technology Procurement Pilot Project to create a "Copier of the Future." These copiers would have dramatically better energy performance than currently available products. For more information, see the project website.

Standardizing Power Management Controls: With funds from the California Energy Commission, BEMPA researchers began a multi-year project in May, 1999 to define a standard user interface for power management controls in office equipment and ultimately other electronic devices. This project builds on the recognition that such controls and indicators in current equipment are often confusing and differ widely from model to model. Standard interface elements should increase energy savings considerably at essentially no cost. For more information, see the project website.

Reducing Leaking Electricity: The energy used while an appliance is in its lowest power mode is called "standby power" or "leaking electricity." A surprisingly large number of appliances, from office equipment to air conditioners to VCRs, continue to consume electricity even after they have been switched off. Other appliances, such as telephone answering machines, remote garage door openers, and battery chargers don't get switched off, so they essentially draw power 24 hours a day. BEMPA researchers have created a website that provides information on appliances and office equipment that leak electricity and technologies that can be used to reduce leaking electricity.

Project Staff

Jonathan G. Koomey

Bruce Nordman

Marla Sanchez

Judy Roberson

Carrie Webber

John Busch

Greg Homan

Mary Ann Piette

Key Data


Roberson, Judy A., Carrie A. Webber, Marla C. McWhinney, Richard E. Brown, Margaret J. Pinckard, John F. Busch. 2004. After-hours Power Status of Office Equipment and Inventory of Miscellaneous Plug-Load Equipment. LBNL-53729, January. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley CA. 27 pgs. Abstract | 352K PDF

McWhinney, Marla, Andrew Fanara, Robin Clark, Craig Hershberg, Rachel Schmeltz, Judy Roberson. 2003. Energy Star Product Specification Development Framework: Using Data and Analysis to Make Program Decisions. LBNL-53326, September. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley CA. 39 pgs. download this report

Webber, Carrie A., Richard E. Brown, Akshay Mahajan, Jonathan Koomey. 2002. Savings Estimates for the Energy Star Voluntary Labeling Program: 2001 Status Report. LBNL-48496, February. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley CA. 29 pgs. download this report

Webber, Carrie, Judy Roberson, Richard Brown, Christopher Payne, Bruce Nordman, and Jonathan Koomey. 2001. "Field Surveys of Office Equipment Operation Patterns." Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Report No. LBNL- 46930. September. Abstract | 200K PDF

Picklum, Roger E., Bruce Nordman, and Barbara Kresch. 1999. "Guide to Reducing Energy Use in Office Equipment." Prepared by the City & County of San Francisco, Bureau of Energy Conservation, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Abstract and paper.

Nordman, Bruce, Mary Ann Piette, Brian Pon, and Kris Kinney. 1998. "It's Midnight...Is your Copier On?: ENERGY STAR Copier Performance." Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Report No. LBNL-41332. Abstract and paper.

Webber, Carrie and Richard Brown. 1998. "Savings Potential for ENERGY STAR´┐Ż Voluntary Labeling Programs." Proceedings of the ACEEE 1998 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Volume 9, pp. 271-282. Washington, DC: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Abstract | 149K PDF

Nordman, Bruce, Mary Ann Piette, Kris Kinney, and Carrie Webber. 1997. "User Guide to Power Management for PCs and Monitors." Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Report No. LBNL-39466. Abstract and paper.

Nordman, Bruce, Mary Ann Piette, and Kris Kinney. "Measured Energy Savings and Performance of Power Managed Personal Computers and Monitors." Presented at the 1996 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Report No. LBL-38057, 1996

Koomey, Jonathan G., M. Cramer, M.A. Piette, and J.H. Eto. 1995. "Efficiency Improvements in U.S. Office Equipment: Expected Policy Impacts and Uncertainties." Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Report No. LBL-37383. December.
Exec. Summary | 664K PDF | A summary of this report is also available.

Piette, M.A., M Cramer, J. Eto, and J. Koomey, 1995. "Office Technology Energy Use and Savings Potential In New York." Report for the New York Energy and Research Development Authority and Consolidated Edison Company. Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Report No. LBNL- 36534. January.

Koomey, Jonathan, Timothy Oey, and Eric Bergman. 1993. "The Economics of Cycling Personal Computers." Energy Policy (21) 9: 937-943. September.

Other Resources

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE): This non-profit organization promotes energy efficiency and pollution prevention through education, analysis, and advocacy.


U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN): This part of DOE promotes the development and adoption of efficiency and renewable energy technologies. It also works with EPA to design voluntary programs to promote energy efficiency and reduce pollution.

Federal Energy Management Program: This site provides guidelines and information targeted at federal facilities.

Federal Energy Management Program's (FEMP's) Product Efficiency Recommendations: This site recommends ENERGY STAR as well as other energy-efficient products.

Energy Star energy conservation energy savings energy efficiency environment climate change weatherization solar energy appliances energy audit energy tools efficient buildings energy education heating cooling heat pumps furnaces boilers air conditioners insulation ducts skylights windows thermostats fuel switching mechanical ventilation water heater water heating refrigerator freezer dishwasher clotheswasher clothes dryer miscellaneous energy home energy comfort remodeling residential energy.

TEMA Group Site The Enduse Forecasting Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
 Last Updated On: 8/19/04