How a modlet sparked a competition for energy efficiency at Greif

Blend a little new energy tech with a pinch of behavioral psychology and you’re bound to get something unexpected.

Consider what happened when New York City-based ThinkEco recently lead a four-month energy challenge for international industrial packaging company Greif.

The goal, of course, was to save energy. And that they achieved. Sixty employees in two Greif buildings cut their energy use 2,400 kWh over 10 weeks. But it was something else that made the challenge interesting, especially for businesses.

The story begins with the Ohio-based Greif already high on the sustainability charts.  The manufacturer, which had $4.2 billion in sales last year, reduced its energy use company-wide 10 percent between 2007 and 2010. Further, Greif plans to achieve a 15 percent cut in energy use by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020 (measured by per unit of production with 2008 as a base year). The company also has aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gases and landfill waste.

Having done the obvious to save energy, Greif was in search of the innovative. Enter The Modlet, developed by energy efficiency tech company ThinkEco (Thank you, ThinkEco, for not calling it a plug-load demand-side management optimization solution.)

The modlet is a small box that you plug into an electrical outlet. It comes with a USB port that goes into your computer. This sets up a wireless signal that allows the modlet to talk to your computer.  You plug an appliance into the modlet, and then your computer screen shows the energy use of the appliance.

Most interesting, from your computer you can control the power flow into the appliance, and even schedule shut offs in advance. For example, you might set up a schedule to turn off power to devices not in use on nights and weekends.

Photo of scissors cutting wire provided by ronstik via Shutterstock

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