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Greif Cuts 2,400 kWh with Smart Plug Challenge

Industrial packaging products company Greif cut its energy use more than 2,400 kWh, equivalent to about 2.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide, during a four-month employee competition that used an efficiency device developed by ThinkEco.

For the challenge, each of the 60 employee participants were given the Modlet, a smart plug that allows users to wirelessly meter and control power use at the plug level. Users can reduce energy waste by presetting individual outlets to turn on and off based on tenant schedules, or remotely switch them on or off from a smart phone.

ThinkEco’s web-based software allowed the energy challenge participants to identify where they were wasting the most energy and then take action using the Modlet.

The challenge participants were split into two teams within Greif’s Delaware, Ohio headquarters and competed on energy savings and knowledge. Badges and points were awarded for participation in activities. The ThinkEco web application allowed employees to share energy tips, blog about their efficiency efforts and compare savings.

After the competition, the percentage of participants who believe their office practices more energy conservation than a year ago increased from 64 percent to 100 percent. The percentage who strongly agree that Greif informs its employees about energy reduction targets and progress increased from 29 percent to 60 percent, ThinkEco said.

The second phase of the energy challenge will allow employees to take the Modlet home to address waste in their residences.

The worldwide market for submetering technology, which allows a company to monitor energy use of equipment or bill tenants for individual measured utility usage, totaled $771 million in 2012, according to a Pike Research report released in May. Pike Research forecast the market will grow to $1.58 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 9.4 percent.

Submetering has long provided a way for energy managers concerned with the untapped efficiency potential of buildings to understand consumption and identify areas for improvement. But the market has started to grow as building professionals tie the technology into broader energy management packages for property owners.

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