Lower Lighting Use, Raise Spirits On Shorter Winter Days

Updated lighting control systems help to support facility management goals — meeting building codes and providing effective illumination for building occupants.

By Eric Lind

In many buildings, shorter winter days and longer nights mean the lights are on for more time, and lighting electricity costs go up. The following lighting control tips are not only associated with code compliance and energy savings initiatives(1) but they can also play a major role in creating a more pleasant, comfortable work environment. Updated lighting control systems support these goals by doing double-duty, helping to meet and exceed building codes while contributing to one of the most important aspect of commercial buildings — satisfied, productive building occupants.

lighting control
Natural daylight can be a great motivator, and automated shading lets the sun shine in while reducing glare. (Photo: ASID Headquarters, Washington, DC photo by Eric Laignel)

That’s a nice bonus since studies(2) have confirmed a significant correlation between employees’ positive appraisal of the lighting in a space and overall workplace satisfaction and engagement.

Sensors Save Energy, And Make Sure No One Is Left In The Dark

Installing simple, wireless occupancy sensors in private and open office spaces helps to ensure that lights are off when the room is empty. Especially when it’s dark outside, it’s easy for busy employees to leave for the day without remembering to turn off lights. This can quickly translate into higher electricity costs. Sensors take just minutes to install, and return typical lighting energy savings between 40% and 60%.

Wireless occupancy sensors can also integrate with HVAC systems to make office temperatures more comfortable for employees during work hours, and automatically set back the thermostat after hours. An adjustment of just a few degrees can save 5%-15% electricity after hours, and still keep employees warm and focused on their work, not their frigid fingers and toes, during work hours.

When you select product solutions with proven wireless communication success, and a long history of interference free, integrated control, a wireless installation can significantly reduce labor and set up costs while delivering smart-device enabled control from anywhere in or outside of the space without pulling extra wires or tearing out walls.

Use The Sun To Your Advantage

What’s so important about daylight? Almost an afterthought less than a decade ago, daylighting is quickly becoming a cornerstone of high performance building design. The Department of Energy acknowledges both the energy saving and humancentric benefits of daylighting in its Lighting Development, Adoption and Compliance Guide, and federal requirements increasingly include daylight control in building codes and standards. Lighting and light control is connected to just about everything in a building—building energy systems, building codes, occupant health and productivity.

Especially in the winter, natural daylight can be a great motivator, and daylight harvesting can help automatically reduce lighting electricity use by dimming lights on those beautiful sunny days. Wireless daylight sensors communicate with digital ballasts or drivers to dim or brighten lights automatically based on available daylight — reduce lighting energy use, improve views, and enhance the workspace.

Integrated lighting and shading controls automatically respond to defined environmental conditions to maximize comfort, reduce energy use, and meet the constantly changing needs of employees and the building environment — control glare while preserving daylight and views and you may increase employee productivity by up to 25%.

Rebates, Incentives Can Lower Cost Of Saving Energy

Depending on state and local utility programs, there are numerous rebates and incentives that are designed to promote energy efficient lighting systems, providing incentives for the purchase and installation of energy efficient products and controls. Lighting control manufacturers and your local utility can help identify the opportunities in your area. For example, Lutron Electronics make it easy to link to eligible programs in your state or province.

Don’t let the winter blues affect your energy costs or employee morale. Implementing simple lighting control strategies can make a big difference during those shorter winter days.

1 U.S Department of Energy. Building Energy Codes Program: Final determination on ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010. Online. Retrieved March
18 2014. http://www.energycodes.gov/regulations/determinations

2 Vietch, J., Stokkermans, M., Newsham, G.R. (2011). Environment and behavior: Linking lighting appraisals to work behaviors. Sage Publications on behalf of Environmental Design Research Association. Online. Retrieved 2 May 2012. http://eab.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/08/25/0013916511420560

lighting controlLind is vice president, Global Specifications for Lutron Electronics Co. Inc.
He is responsible for the Lutron interface to the lighting design community and corporate relationships with two industry groups, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD). Lind enjoys being a part of the team — designer, installer, channel partner — that delivers the complete Lutron experience to clients.