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Building 90 Plug-in
Devices Study

Understanding the energy used by the plug-in devices we use at work everyday.

Study Introduction

From July 2010 through February 2011, a research study will take place in Building 90 to collect information on the energy use of workplace plug-in devices (also known as Miscellaneous and Electronic Loads -- MELs). Steven Lanzisera (EETD) will lead the field work, and Rich Brown (EETD) and Alan Meier (EETD) are the PIs. The study team would like your help and cooperation during the data collection portion of this study. This study has been approved by the LBNL Human Subjects Committee, LBNL Site Security, and the management of the divisions residing in B90. Any questions or concerns can be addressed to the research team individually or in the open meeting on this research study.

The study has the following steps:


All of building 90 will be inventoried. B90 occupants may request to be present during the inventory. We will conduct the inventories from July 29th through August 13th primarily through after-hours walk throughs of the building. Daytime walk throughs will be used as a supplement to observe mobile devices (e.g. laptops) and spaces where people prefer to be present. Notification of the inventory will be made via flyers posted in stairwells, access doors, and common areas in Bldg 90. The inventory will not involve turning on, turning off, unplugging or plugging in any devices in any location. If any outstanding information is needed for the inventory, we will return during work hours. Information collected will be associated with a room, not an individual.

Selection of Devices for Metering and Consent Procedure

Approximately 500 devices will be selected at random for metering. A metering consent form will be left in an obvious location in each workspace where devices have been selected. The consent form will indicate which devices have been selected, the scheduled date of meter installation, as well as contact and general project information. For each selected device, occupants are asked to check one of three boxes on the form that corresponds to:

  1. Metering at scheduled date (after hours) is approved by occupant
  2. Metering is approved by occupant while occupant is present (date and time to be arranged)
  3. Occupant does not want device to be metered
The filled out metering consent form will be collected by the project research team.

Installation of Meters and Metering

If occupants prefer to be present during meter installation, they can indicate this preference on the metering consent form and provide contact information so that the researchers can follow up and arrange a time for meter installation. Before meters are added to "sensitive" devices that cannot be unplugged without potentially disrupting operation (e.g. desktop computers), we will notify occupants to shutoff these devices when they leave for the day so that we can install meters that evening. Any needed follow up will occur the next work day.

Meter installation consists of unplugging a device, plugging the meter into the same outlet, and plugging the device into the outlet on the meter. We will leave a sheet of instructions on the chair or monitor in the workspace informing people about the meters and with instructions to continue using the device as before.

The meters will measure and report energy use at a one minute or finer time step over several months. The research team will request that meters be used when plugging/unplugging devices. Here are some possible configurations of meters and devices:

Plug-in devices plugged into ACme meters 
(black boxes), then extension cords, then       
surge protectors, then wall.
Plug-in device plugged into ACme meter 
(black box), then surge protector, then 

Individuals can opt out at any time during the study.

Uninstall of Meters

When meters are to be removed, we will again post notification, ask people to turn off devices, and remove the meters. Alternatively, we will give individuals the opportunity and instructions to remove the meters themselves, and we will collect them.

o o o


Open meeting: 27 July 2010 9:30 to 10:30 in 90-3122; click here for information slides.
Inventories: 29 July 2010 through 13 August 2010
Metering: July 2010 through February 2011

Metering is currently scheduled through February 2011 although the end date may be extended.

If you would like to be present for the inventory of a space, follow the requests link at the top of the page.

Human Subjects Information

The Human Subjects Committee (HSC) has reviewed and approved this research. The HSC is the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for LBNL. LBNL holds Office of Human Research Protections Federalwide Assurance number FWA 00006253.

Approval number: 286H02-25JUN11

If you have any questions regarding your rights or treatment as a volunteer in this research study, contact the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Human Subjects Committee at 510-486-5539 or

Other Approvals

The meters have been approved by EH&S for electrical safety and use at LBNL.

The inventory and metering install/removal plans were devloped with and approved by LBNL Site Security.

The study plan has been supplied to and approved by a representative of the management from each division housed in B90.