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Lighting the way to a more controlled environment

12 June 2018

Most FMs and their service providers will be all too familiar with the need to introduce new areas where savings can be achieved in the drive to stretch budgets to cover as many objectives as possible.

Among the list of areas most popular is that of energy consumption, which has risen to the fore in recent years through providing a number of possibilities to reduce expenditure while raising levels of sustainability and improving environmental credentials.

Lighting is one of the areas of energy efficiency and often seen as the place to start, particularly if the facility concerned has not explored this fully beforehand.

Case study articles and reports on the savings achieved through swapping to modern alternatives, such as LEDs, have been published by PFM and many other media outlets for several years to drive this point home further.

As with any topic, however, it is easy to look to look at one particular aspect – such as the savings provided by LEDs – and thereby miss out on the bigger picture. Where lighting is concerned, the best example of this is where modern lighting products have been installed without the inclusion of control systems.

Regardless of the quality of the installation, failing to combine new lighting projects with a control system can mean that lights may be left on when they are not required or operate at full power when this is not required.

Incorporating a control system will inevitably increase initial cost, but the potential to provide rapid return on investment is frequently all that is needed to provide the most persuasive argument in support of this.

With this in mind, PFM approached a number of industry experts to ask them for their thoughts on whether the benefits of lighting controls are sufficiently understood by the FM sector.

Among the first to respond was LED Eco Lights sales and marketing director Saima Shafi. She states that an intelligent lighting control system can “radically reduce energy consumption whilst delivering optimal lighting performance, where it is needed.

"However, some building operators overlook the additional benefits that this technology can bring.”

Ms Shafi says that while many organisations are now converting from outdated fluorescent lighting to LEDs, which will “undoubtedly” reduce their energy consumption, if they coupled these installations with an intelligent lighting control system it could enhance these benefits considerably.

“Lighting control is central in achieving lowered operation costs, improved energy efficiency, and enhanced security,” she continues.

“Typical savings of a lighting control system when combined with LED luminaires are between 60-95%, depending on its application – ranging from commercial to industrial, education to healthcare and even hospitality.”

In addition to the obvious energy savings, an intelligent lighting system allows activation of an individual light or groups of lights from one device, sets lights to turn on and off or dim at precise times and creates customised lighting for a specific task.

“Operating your lighting where it is needed – rather than at 100% brightness constantly – not only minimises energy consumption, but also extends lighting lifecycles and reduces maintenance costs.

"Intelligent lighting is key to achieving a truly smart building that can communicate with other smart devices within a building and changes the way it is managed.

“It is essential for creating a really efficient lighting system that further increases efficiency and savings. Building operators must look to incorporate lighting control as an integral part of any lighting project to reap the benefits that this technology can bring,” says Ms Shafi.

Further thoughts are provided by Lyco technical service manager Michael Eccles, who agrees that lighting controls provide a number of benefits for business owners, but believes that not all of these are truly understood.

“One of the biggest benefits of lighting controls is how they improve the use of light throughout a building.

"Lighting controls allow for greater control and flexibility as each room can have a range of preset moods or scenes that can be easily and quickly changed to reflect the different uses of the space,” he continues.

Additionally, lighting has a big impact on the health, wellbeing, and productivity of employees, and having the ability to easily alter the lighting means businesses can ensure their employees are always working in the right environment.

“Lighting accounts for roughly 20% of a company’s energy bill, a figure that can be reduced through the installation of lighting controls. By incorporating lighting control devices such as motion sensors, and timers, businesses can make sure their lights are only on when needed, reducing the amount of unnecessary energy used.

“Another benefit of lighting control that is often overlooked is the fact it can be incorporated into an existing security system.

"By using lighting controls, security lights can be set to mimic typical lighting behaviour of a household or commercial space, giving the illusion that a property is occupied even when it isn’t,” he says.

Mr Eccles provides a summary of key benefits to sum up his comments, including:

• Reduced energy consumption - lights are only on when needed;

• Flexibility and ability to control lighting - lighting can be adapted for a variety of different purposes, helping to improve productivity and wellbeing;

• Ability to control all lights from one place;

• Lighting be changed to suit time of day, seasonality, or specific events;

• Improved security.

Tridonic technical services manager Martin Thompson tells PFM readers that the benefits of controlling light go far beyond the simple convenience of automation.

“There are several key elements for consideration, eg safety, energy saving, comfort features and networked solutions. Intelligent lighting control systems are characterised by the optimum interplay of controller, sensors, controls, electronic ballasts and lamps,” he continues.

Task-specific lighting management is critical for industrial, research and educational applications where a high maintained illuminance is required during occupancy periods, but during periods of low occupancy it may still be necessary to ensure that illumination of safety critical routes is maintained.

Digital lighting controls and sensors enable efficient communication, optimising the lighting scheme’s ability to deliver light to the correct levels at task areas whilst ensuring that 'no-task' areas are illuminated to the most efficient, low level state or even switched off where acceptable.

Stating that office and commercial schemes will often allow artificial lighting to blend with vast amounts of natural daylight, Mr Thompson further explains this is only achieved through correct controls application, ensuring that when the sun is shining the artificial lighting is minimised, ensuring maximum energy savings.

“Hospitality schemes are all about creating an ambience to suit a specific time of day or event. The ability to easily create lighting scenes and enable their selection removes the disruptive sensation of light sources being switched randomly or not matching the end-user's requirements in terms of colour or level,” he says.

“Healthcare has similar requirements, combined with the need to sometimes enable higher levels of illuminance and individual user control. Both healthcare and hospitality benefit from tuneable white products.

“Finally, new standards such as the BREAMM rating place a lot of weight on the use of controls to maximise a building's energy efficiency,” Mr Thompson concludes.

Zumtobel Nothern Europe group services director Darren Riva discusses the existence of distinct and tailored lighting solutions to control lighting at room, floor, building and city level.

These are non-proprietary, open-architecture solutions, designed to work with existing IT platforms and to allow scalability, he states.

“The onus is on decision-makers to understand current needs but to also project forward so that lighting installed today can deliver insight and value for years to come,” he continues. “Often, such expertise will not exist in-house. As lighting solutions become ever more sophisticated, so the value of third-party expert consultancy grows.”

He believes that the importance of the right lighting cannot be overplayed: “We worked with a nursing home in Vienna to establish the correct light levels and colour temperature.

"Colour temperature has a proven effect on mood, and by adjusting its lighting the nursing home has reported an increase in the level of sociability between residents and a decrease in the amount of drugs issued. Significant results.”

Today’s lighting decisions are not solely about light provision but also about the type and frequency of data that is captured and how that data might then improve business performance, says Mr Riva.

As a conduit for connectivity and data, lighting has one major advantage – it is everywhere that people are.

“LED lighting can act as a platform to deliver a wide variety of intelligent applications and improved functionality. Whilst this presents businesses with myriad options it also demands a change of mindset.

“Business leaders must recognise the emergence of lighting provision as an essential element of business strategy rather than a legacy service. Third-party, expert advice can be crucial,” says Mr Riva.

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