The secret life of an office building

Written byAbhay Adhikari, Urban Sustainable Development Lab, 26/08/2015

Earlier this week we held our first Energy Innovation Lab as part of the ongoing Smart City programme. The Lab marks the beginning of a project to encourage employees to take greater interest in their carbon footprint. We made some surprising discoveries when we analysed the energy consumption data of one of the office buildings across 24 hours a day for an entire month. Can you help us answer some these questions?

The mysterious 3-hour lag
As expected, the energy consumption shoots up as employees arrive for work and peaks around mid-morning. There is a subsequent, gradual decline throughout the rest of the day. Based on what happens in the morning, it would be fair to assume that there is a similar sharp downward trend towards the end of the day.

However, as the data shows, assuming that the last employee leaves at 6pm, it takes another three hours for the consumption to reach baseline. This is consistent across every day of the month. Some of us guessed that this might be cleaners working in the building or automatic lights gradually shutting off. What do you think could be the cause for this lag?

Can every day be like Thursday?
When we looked at energy consumption across the week, we came across another set of trends. On average, the consumption is highest on the Monday. There is a relatively straightforward explanation for this. The data is from November, so the higher consumption could indicate the heating being switched on after the weekend.

We also observed that the energy consumption falls every Thursday. In fact, it is lower than expected. Now the thing is, there was nothing remarkable about the Thursdays in November last year. What could have brought the consumption down? And how can we make every day like Thursday?

These snapshots are based on the work carried out by one of our resident technologists Edafe Onerhime. These are preliminary findings and further, rigorous analysis will be carried out as we explore the relationship between behaviour and energy consumption in the workplace. Have you observed similar trends in your office building or spotted anything unusual?