Beyond Energy Savings: Disruptive Technologies In Lighting

Energy savings is an obvious benefit of LED lighting. But, disruptive lighting control technologies including LEDs, evolving software, and wireless protocols offer additional advantages.

By Andy Wakefield
From the November/December 2016 Issue

In just the last few years, LEDs have transformed the commercial lighting landscape. At 20% to 30% more efficient than many fluorescent lamps, energy savings is an obvious benefit of LED lighting. But, disruptive lighting control technologies including LEDs, evolving software, and wireless protocols offer significant, additional advantages.

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Layered lighting control strategies deliver savings of up to 40%. (Provided by Lutron Electronics)

Beyond energy savings, what else can LEDs do for a building? LED lighting retrofits alone can result in lighting energy savings of up to 40%, and layering control strategies can boost those savings even further while delivering a simple payback of less than 2.5 years (see Figure 1).

But lower energy use is just the first in a list of advantages that includes comfort, long life, flexibility, and an enhanced building environment. Adding control solutions into a lighting retrofit makes it easier to maintain these efficiencies over the life of the building, improve occupant comfort, and more easily adapt to changes in facility use or layout.

And technologies, such as color tuning, are making LEDs significantly more flexible than other light sources. Today, forward-thinking control and lamp manufacturers are working together to ensure high-quality dimming and performance that results in creative, engaging environments.

New software simplifies facility management. Lighting control systems have had powerful software capabilities for some time now, but intuitive apps and Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) can put this information at your fingertips with a smart device. Facility staff is better equipped to unlock the system’s full potential without having to navigate lengthy decision trees.

Automated, integrated control systems manage lights, shades, and temperature in response to predefined building settings, scenes, time clocks, or user defined events, and the resulting data can help a team quickly identify when and where the building is using most of its electricity, and adjust control settings to optimize building performance.

Even fine adjustments can help achieve peak energy reductions of up to 30%, meet and exceed energy codes, and make sure the facility conforms to federal and state energy mandates.

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Layered control strategies—from daylight harvesting, to personal control, to high-end tuning—significantly boost energy savings. (Photo: Eric Laignel)

Wireless controls reduce labor and maintenance costs. The three major benefits of wireless control systems include cost-effective installation, fast setup, and the opportunity to access system data remotely using a smart device.

Almost any new lighting control system includes occupancy sensors and daylight harvesting technologies. Wireless protocols make it easier to install these sensors, but they also make it easier to fine-tune control locations and set up without disrupting work schedules or opening up building walls. In a typical open office space, properly installed sensors provide additional lighting energy savings.

Wireless controls can also be effectively utilized prior to system installation to log data that will accurately predict the lighting control system’s energy performance.

The right mix of services ensures system performance over time. Advanced control solutions are helping to make buildings more sustainable, comfortable, and productive. In many cases, the right mix of support services—from design through post-occupancy—is the final piece of the puzzle.

A relatively small, up-front investment in services can make the entire process go more smoothly, reduce change orders, avoid miscommunication, and save untold time and aggravation. Sensor layout and tuning services, periodic reviews of energy use data, and annual training/preventive maintenance services keep your systems and staff up to date and limit unpleasant surprises.

Disruptive technologies challenge the status quo and drive change, creating buildings designed to save energy without sacrificing comfort or productivity. That’s great news for the people who work in these spaces, and great news for facility management teams.

LED lightingWakefield is senior sales director, building solutions and services for Lutron Electronics. In this role, he is responsible for leading Lutron’s global services business as well as government and performance contracting. Additionally, Wakefield is responsible for Lutron’s Commercial Integrator channel. He joined the company in 2001 after nine years of active duty service as a United States Navy Naval Flight Officer; he continues to serve as a Commander in the United States Navy Reserves.

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