Advanced Lighting Control Systems Allow Building Managers to Boost Energy Savings and Security

We’ve talked about the part LEDs play in commercial lighting solutions and energy management, but optimizing energy efficiency depends on more than just light bulbs. With a strong facility manager behind the helm, cost cutting measures that go beyond fixtures can save energy and reduce the overall bottom line of a facility.

The best way to accomplish this is with an advanced lighting control system. Properly implementing a successful control system requires a working knowledge of how the facility is used, a technical know-how related to the selected system, and a strong level of communication between the staff and facility manager establishing support and systematic buy in.

What are Advanced Lighting Control Systems?

Advance lighting controls are built to maintain high quality illumination, making occupants feel comfortable and productive while the building incurs continuous energy savings from an operational aspect. Steve Mesh, lighting designer and contributor to Facilitiesnet lists the following as major lighting control strategies used by advanced control systems.

Lighting Control Strategies:

-Scheduling — shutting lights off when not in use (or at least dimming them to a low level).

-Facility-wide “tuning” — reducing the default light level.

-Daylight harvesting — dimming electric lights in response to available daylight.

-Occupancy/vacancy sensing — using room sensors, turning lights off or dimming them when a space is vacant.

-Personal control/manual override — giving users a way to dim or turn off lights (or in some cases make lights brighter) when desired.-

-Load shedding (“demand response”) — dimming or shutting lights off during periods of peak demand.

The Facility Manager – aka The Gatekeeper

Selection, commissioning, installation, and maintenance of an advanced lighting control system generally lay squarely on the shoulders of a facility manager. To find success and a positive long term impact from the installation, it’s important for the person or team to be mindful of the following:

Take the system for a test run.

Try to install a portion of the system in a vacant space. There, you will gain a better understanding of the installation time and learn how to best pair the system with existing building fixtures. This is a great opportunity to facilitate test runs and experiments, finding the best program for the building.

Access the needs of the occupants before installation.

Take the time to find out the lighting needs of both the occupants and the facility in general. Are the lighting zones correct and optimized? Will occupants need to override the system manually at times? What level of illumination is best for day-to-day operation? How has day lighting been integrated into the lighting design? Questions such as these should be considered prior to the lighting control installation.

Get educated and stay up-to-date.

While lighting systems are designed to implement a lighting and dimming schedule based on occupancy and daylight, advanced systems are capable of so much more (check out our blog on lighting and The Internet of Things to see what we mean). Don’t invest in a state-of-the-art system only to use it at a minimal level. Understand the range of capabilities offered and educate others on how to use it.

Keep up with communication.

Once a system is in place, educate the building staff on how it’s used. Describe what to expect when it’s in “auto-mode” and show them how to manually override it if needed. It’s the facility manager’s job to serve as the liaison between the installer and the occupants, making the transition as easy as possible. Today, everyone is a proponent of energy conservation, but if they don’t understand how the program works or how to use it to their advantage, the shine is going to wear off quickly. Consider short training sessions or published materials about how the system works and how it benefits the occupants. Help them buy into the system by becoming an advocate of lighting controls, not an opponent.

By combining EarthTronics LED lighting solutions with a comprehensive lighting control system, facility managers can take energy conservation and cost cutting measures to the next level. A multi-faceted approach to energy reduction in commercial buildings will bring about almost immediate savings, and once the installation is complete, minimal maintenance is required (for the Earthbulbs or controls system). It’s a package deal! 

Looking for more information about lighting control systems? The Design Light Consortium has host of resources available.