Small Power Electrical Equipment

Small power electrical equipment includes all of the unfixed devices, products and appliances commonly plugged in to the electricity network in an office environment. This equipment can include items such as desktop PCs, laptops, monitors, printers, and copiers, as well as domestic scale appliances such as kettles, fridges and dishwashers. The charging of work and personal portable devices, including phones and tablets, also falls within this definition.

Collectively, small power electrical equipment can typically account for 15% of the total electricity used in an office building.Using and charging electrical items also generate heat, which will contributing towards building cooling and ventilation requirements.

Opportunities

Having specifications in place for the small power electrical equipment occupiers can use will deliver multiple benefits:

Reducing energy consumption and overheating risk by specifying energy efficient equipment and associated controls. 

Benefits:

Reducing maintenance and replacement intervals, as well as disposal impacts, by adopting a whole lifecycle approach to costing.

Benefits:

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Principles

1. Assess Potential Power Use to Help Inform Design

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Consider undertaking an early assessment of predicted total energy consumption to inform the design process. This assessment should consider all likely unregulated electrical loads and take account of anticipated occupancy densities and operational hours. Data from current business operations, the previous occupier, or similar existing office fit-outs can be useful in this process.

Assessments can help identify which activities and equipment types will be the largest energy consumers. This can help prioritise areas of focus for energy efficiency opportunity, enable better prediction of internal environmental conditions and inform optimised HVAC design solutions e.g. for IT rich operating areas and data centres where innovative heat recovery and cooling solutions could be implemented.

CIBSE TM54: Evaluating Operational Energy Performance of Buildings at the Design Stage provides an industry standard methodology for undertaking an effective assessment of energy consumption from office equipment.

2. Base Procurement Decisions on Lifecycle Costs & Impacts

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The specification of electrical equipment should be based on whole life of the product over the term of the lease, rather than just concentrating on initial purchasing costs. This should include the benefits of extended refurbishment or replacement/upgrade programmes, running and maintenance cost, as well as, disposal costs and impacts. Principles that should be considered include:

Specifying for enhanced durability

Selecting equipment that is suitably resilient and robust, and designed for every day use, can reduce maintenance, repair and premature replacement costs.

Specifying for end of life disposal

Reducing negative ‘end of life’ impacts associated with disposal of electrical equipment is an important part of an organisations commitment to act responsibly. Best practice principles include:

  • Exploring options for leasing equipment instead of direct ownership e.g. printers, copiers etc. (see also Materials)
  • Partner with charities and social enterprises to donate unwanted furniture for reuse.
  • Prioritising and using manufacturer’s take-back schemes to reduce end of life waste and maximise opportunities for re-use and recycling.
  • Adopting circular economy principles by ensuring equipment purchased can be either reused or recycled. The ideal scenario where the manufacturer manages or is part of a closed-loop waste management system.

3. Choose Energy Efficient Equipment

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The selection of energy efficient equipment will help reduce energy consumption and associated heat loads. Some simple steps to archive this goal are set out below.

Specify products with energy efficiency ratings and certification.

When specifying new office equipment consider products assessed and rated under industry schemes which recognise energy performance. The main schemes to look out for are:

  • Energy Labelling Directive: An A-G Energy rating system for domestic appliances and white label goods.  Ensure procurement policies specify A+ or higher rated equipment.
  • Energy Savings Trust – Verified by: A register of products that are endorsed, approved and product performance independently verified by the Energy Saving Trust.
  • Energy Star: US based certification scheme for a wider range of energy efficient products, including office equipment.
  • European Ecolabel: The EU Ecolabel helps identify products and services that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle, from the extraction of raw material through to production, use and disposal.

Consider automated energy management.

An emerging generation of modern office equipment and portable devices have the ability to be remotely switched on/off over WIFI or the internet. Specifying “smart” equipment with these connectivity standards provides for additional control for energy efficiency and potentially a level of futureproofing. For example, video conference equipment and coffee machines in meeting rooms can be linked to room booking systems to automatically power down when the room is not in use. Such smart systems can support device-by-device energy monitoring to help inform better management and energy reporting.

ICT opportunities.

Occupiers should consider how their ICT strategy can support energy efficiency aims. For example:

  • Considering the quantum and type of end user equipment e.g. laptops vs desktop PCs
  • Reducing the need for on-site servers / data centres, through the use of off-site, cloud-based solutions
  • Requiring 'Best practices for the EU Code of Conduct on Data Centres' principles https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/energy-efficiency/code-conduct/datacentres
  • Specifying thin client processing solutions with centralised processing
  • Using power management software to switch off hardware when not in use and overnight.

Printer and photocopier opportunities.

In addition to simply specifying energy efficient equipment, choosing multi-function devices, rather than separate ones for printing, scanning, copying etc. can be more efficient, in terms of space, energy, cost and material use.

Also consider a ‘follow-me-printing’ approach which only prints sent documents once the user has instructed a local printer to do so e.g. via code or swipe card. Such an approach reduces printer use, saving electricity, toner and paper. There are additional benefits in terms of information security, as the likelihood of sensitive documents being left on printers is reduced.