New Technologies Could Reduce Energy Consumption of Office Equipment by 70 Percent

TIAX study for DOE identifies energy saving technologies, explores barriers to adoption, and suggests next steps toward widespread utilization.

TIAX today released a comprehensive report on energy consumption by commercial office and telecommunications equipment in the U.S. The research, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), indicates that the application of new and emerging technologies could reduce the total energy consumption of office equipment by approximately 70 percent. Approaches that power down or turn off equipment when they are not in use had the highest energy saving potential.

The report, “Energy Consumption by Office and Telecommunications Equipment in Commercial Buildings,” is the second in a two-part study TIAX has conducted for the DOE. The first study in 2002 established the baseline energy consumption for office and telecommunications equipment for the year 2000. This second report identifies technologies with energy savings potential, explores the barriers that prevent their widespread adoption, and suggests next steps to achieving market penetration and utilization.

“The rise of the Internet and the widespread adoption of computers has led to a dramatic increase in energy consumption by office equipment over the past 20 years,” said Dr. James Brodrick, Technology Development Manager at DOE in the Building Technologies Program. “This report demonstrates that a broad range of new technologies have the potential to significantly reduce the impact of office equipment on electricity demand.”

A team of TIAX researchers, led by Project Manager Dr. Kurt Roth, analyzed more than 60 technologies that had the potential to reduce energy costs associated with office products, including PCs, monitors, servers, copy machines, and printers. From this list, the team chose 11 technologies for further study based on their initial estimates of market-achievable energy savings potential, and analyzed each technology for performance benefits, barriers to adoption, and next steps to widespread utilization.

Since consumers typically purchase office products based on superior performance, innovative features, and cost, and pay little, if any, attention to energy consumption, the researchers concluded that the greatest hurdles to widespread adoption of these technologies are higher costs, quality/reliability challenges, and inferior product performance. Products featuring energy-savings technologies must offer superior performance or identifiable cost savings in order to achieve widespread market adoption, the reports states.

“There are a number of exciting new and emerging technologies coming onto the market today — from organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays to network software to enable device power-management setting — that could significantly reduce the energy consumption of our office equipment,” said Dr. Roth. “The challenge is to find a way to incorporate these technologies without affecting the features that are most important to consumers in their office products, such as performance and cost.”

Based on the various barriers and developmental stages of the 11 technologies identified during the study, Dr. Roth and his team offered a range of next steps toward successful commercialization for each technology, including further research and development, demonstration, education, and marketing conditioning and promotion.

TIAX evaluated the following 11 technologies in greater detail:

  • Chip-level power management
  • Cholesteric liquid crystal display (LCD)
  • Electronic paper (e-paper)
  • Higher efficiency AC/DC power supplies
  • Higher efficiency LCD backlighting
  • Inkjet copiers and printers
  • Microprocessor line width reduction
  • Network software to enact power management settings
  • Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display
  • Reflective display
  • Server power management

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