By Jason Jeunnette
From the December 2022 Issue
Since small companies overwhelmingly dominate the U.S. business sector, it follows that the smaller scale facilities they occupy comprise most of the nation’s 5.9 million commercial buildings. Over 90% (5.55 million) of these buildings measure less than 50,000 ft., according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.
At that scale, small companies and buildings put a whopping dent in commercial electricity usage. To date, factors ranging from unfamiliarity with technology to wariness about upfront costs and ROI are causing facility managers to leave tremendous savings on the table as they steer clear of a potentially game-changing solution: networked lighting controls (NLC).
The EIA’s most recent Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey found that only a third of commercial buildings under 50,000 sq. ft. make use of lighting control strategies. As federal funds begin flowing into building upgrades after recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, it is essential that owners and managers of commercial buildings of all sizes change this narrative and include lighting controls in all or most projects.
Benefits Of Connected Lighting
LED fixtures installed when the technology first hit over a decade ago are now due for replacement, making lighting projects perfect candidates for upcoming building upgrades. But, since LEDs installed today could remain in place for at least another 10 years, simply replacing old LEDs with new ones, or switching out older lighting technology for LED luminaires, won’t suffice from an energy efficiency standpoint. Instead, project managers should pair LEDs with NLCs at the time of installation—a strategy a study by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance found increases energy savings dramatically—averaging 47% across eight different building types and ratcheting up to nearly 70% for some.
In addition, connected lighting allows facility managers to access the myriad benefits of building intelligence. This enables smart building functions ranging from energy monitoring and better diagnostics to asset tracking, building security, and integration with HVAC and other systems—while giving building occupants more control over their environment and contributing to circadian wellness.