Category: Controls

Lighting Controls Association Offers New Online Course on Personal Lighting Control

The Lighting Controls Association has announced that EE205: Personal Lighting Control has been added to the Association’s popular online Education Express distance education courses. Residing at the Association’s website, Education…

The Lighting Controls Association has announced that EE205: Personal Lighting Control has been added to the Association’s popular online Education Express distance education courses.

Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics.

Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics.

Residing at the Association’s website, Education Express provides in-depth education about lighting controls and controllable ballast technology, application, system design and commissioning, as well as meta-issues such as LEED, energy codes and other trends.

Personal lighting control, an emerging trend in office lighting, involves providing occupants with the ability to adjust their task light levels. Encouraged by LEED and considered a feature of high-performance buildings, personal lighting control has been demonstrated repeatedly in research to increase office worker job and environmental satisfaction while producing energy savings.

EE205: Personal Lighting Control, which I authored on behalf of the Lighting Controls Association, presents the case for personal control, focusing on personal dimming control in workstations and private offices, including methods, general application guidelines and lessons learned from personal control research.

At the conclusion of the course, an optional online comprehension test is available, with automatic grading; a passing grade enables the student to claim education credit. EE205: Personal Lighting Control is accredited/registered with the National Council on Quality in the Lighting Professions (NCQLP), which recognizes 2.0 LEUs towards maintenance of Lighting Certified (LC) certification.

Click here to register and take this course, which is free and can be completed at any time.

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Acuity Brands Lighting to Acquire Sensor Switch, Inc. for $205 Million

Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc. has entered into an agreement (subject to regulatory approval) to acquire 100% of the outstanding capital stock of Sensor Switch, Inc., the $37 million controls manufacturer,…

Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc. has entered into an agreement (subject to regulatory approval) to acquire 100% of the outstanding capital stock of Sensor Switch, Inc., the $37 million controls manufacturer, for $205 million. Sensor Switch, based in Wallingford, CT, offers energy-saving control solutions such including occupancy sensors, photocontrols and distributed lighting control devices.

The successful agreement. concept

“The acquisition of Sensor Switch is part of our profitable growth strategy aimed at offering the most technologically advanced sustainable lighting solutions incorporating both controls and fixtures to maximize energy savings while delivering exceptional quality lighting for commercial, institutional, industrial and residential applications,” says Vernon J. Nagel, Chairman, President and CEO of Acuity Brands. “We believe this acquisition will broaden our participation in both the new construction and building systems markets while greatly expanding our presence in the very large and dynamic renovation and relight market. We are acquiring a fast growing company, with a great team. The addition of Sensor Switch along with our recent acquisition of Lighting Control and Design allows us to expand our capabilities in offering a full array of intelligent lighting products and lighting control solutions in a time when energy management control is critical.”

LightNOW’s take: Acuity Brands Lighting, which already operates Synergy® Lighting Controls and recently purchased Lighting Control & Design™, is investing in expanding its presence in energy management and lighting controls. This kind of acquisition makes sense even in today’s climate for two reasons. First, the energy management side of the lighting industry is expected by some to grow as businesses switch resource allocation for new construction to upgrading existing buildings (assuming credit conditions ease), and lighting upgrades to reduce operating costs through efficiency are expected to be a popular form of renovation. Meanwhile, there is a nascent, but potentially significant, trend of integrating controls with luminaires, as evidenced by solutions such as Finelite’s ICLS, Peerless integrated control solutions including SIMPLY5, and Zumtobel Lighting’s ZX5 with Lutron’s EcoSystem. This looks like it could be big, and so some companies may be seeing it’s a good time to buy a controls company (or partner with one such as Lutron or Watt Stopper to get a “Lutron inside” or “Watt Stopper inside” marketing effect) just as many of them recently went through a spate of buying LED companies.

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NCQLP Recognizes Lighting Controls Handbook

I hope you’ll excuse some blatant self promotion, but I received some good news about one of my books, The Lighting Controls Handbook. The book has been selected by NCQLP…

I hope you’ll excuse some blatant self promotion, but I received some good news about one of my books, The Lighting Controls Handbook. The book has been selected by NCQLP as a primary reference for its Lighting Certified (LC) certification exam.

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Here’s a description of the book from the publisher:

“Intended for energy managers, electrical engineers, building managers, lighting designers, consultants, and other electrical professionals, this book provides a practical description of major lighting controls types and how to apply them. It’s a comprehensive step-by-step educational tour of lighting automation technology and its practical design and application, with useful discussion about the purpose and benefits of lighting controls, emphasizing the achieving of relevant energy savings, as well as support of occupant visual needs and preferences. The book shows readers how to take advantage of the many benefits of today’s sophisticated controls, including expanded energy saving opportunities, and increased flexibility, reliability and interoperability.”

You can get it from Amazon here.

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New Survey Suggests Typical Lighting Control Energy Savings in Office Buildings

The Lighting Controls Association authorized ZING Communications, Inc. to conduct a survey of a group of nearly 900 lighting designers, more than 730 electrical engineers and more than 530 lighting/energy…

The Lighting Controls Association authorized ZING Communications, Inc. to conduct a survey of a group of nearly 900 lighting designers, more than 730 electrical engineers and more than 530 lighting/energy consultants subscribing to the LightNOW lighting industry and lightingCONTROL lighting control e-newsletters. The survey, conducted online based on three email invitations distributed in December 2008 and February 2009, produced a 6% response. Of this response, 95 respondents qualified to complete the survey, an overall 4.4% response.

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The survey covers advanced lighting controls in the office building new construction and existing buildings retrofit markets, asking respondents to indicate how often they specify certain strategies, how they perform, whether energy savings are verified, and if so, how much energy they save on average.

Note that this is not a universe study. The results should not be attributed to the construction industry overall. The respondents, by virtue of their interest in lighting controls, subscription to lightingCONTROL, and their interest in and ability to complete a very detailed survey about lighting controls, suggests that they are in the high end of the lighting controls market. This introduces a bias with some of the results. For example, their satisfaction with controls may be higher than other construction professionals because they may design control systems better than their competitors. The data point that is most transferable across the market is average energy savings realized for certain control strategies.

How often are advanced controls specified and installed?

The subscribers divided themselves into two groups—those who focus on new construction, and those who focus on retrofits. They were asked to report the percentage of new construction or retrofit office building projects over the past two years for which they specified certain control strategies. They were then asked the same question, but concerning projects in which the controls were actually installed, not just specified. All resulting numbers are rough estimates (+5%), as respondents were asked to express their answers as a range (1-10%, 11-20%, etc.), which were defaulted to the middle as an assumption (5%, 15%, etc.). The numbers suggest rates of adoption for new construction and retrofit office building projects and substitution rates.

The results suggest that for new construction projects, occupancy sensors and bilevel switching are the most popular lighting control strategies. It is encouraging to see that the most progressive controls specifiers are specifying personal dimming control for one out of five projects, and the substitution rate, while higher than the other strategies, is still reasonable. The data appears to confirm that daylight harvesting is becoming more popular. However, there was one surprise: Occupancy sensors and scheduling controls would be expected to be installed in more projects.

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How often are advanced controls specified and installed into existing buildings?

The results suggest that for office building lighting retrofit projects, occupancy sensors and bilevel switching are the most popular lighting control strategies. The level of adoption of bilevel switching in existing buildings is surprising given the added cost and difficulties to the project. Bilevel switching is required by the Commercial Buildings Deduction, which may be more influential in office building retrofit projects over the past two years than we had supposed.

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Do specifiers regarding lighting control strategies as relatively problem-free?

Subscribers were asked to rate various lighting control strategies on a 1-5 scale based on how problematic the installed controls were during operation. A 1 indicated the installation was very problematic, a 3 somewhat problematic, and a 5 indicated that the controls are problem-free. No control types were identified as particularly problematic. These results are were expected.

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Why do specifiers specify advanced control strategies in their office projects?

Subscribers were asked to rate various reasons to specify advanced control strategies on a 1-5 scale based on their significance. A 1 indicated the possible reason is very significant, a 3 somewhat significant, and a 5 very significant. Energy codes and energy cost savings are identified as very highly significant as drivers to specify, which is not surprising. One interesting result is the importance of LEED and sustainability, identified as very significant (>4.0 rating), almost as significant as energy codes and energy cost savings.

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How often is the energy savings performance of office lighting control projects verified using monitoring or some other method?

Respondents were asked to identify the percentage of their office projects that include automatic lighting controls and in which energy savings were verified using monitoring or some other method. Nearly one-third of respondents said this occurs on their projects—an estimated 22% of projects, based on a weighted average of the responses with a +5% margin of error. These subscribers formed a subgroup to which another question was asked, which was to identify average lighting energy savings resulting from popular automatic lighting control strategies.

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How much lighting energy savings do popular automatic lighting control strategies produce?

Respondents were asked to identify average lighting energy savings resulting from installation of popular automatic lighting control strategies, as measured in their verification projects. All resulting numbers are rough estimates (+5%), as respondents were asked to express their answers as a range (1-10%, 11-20%, etc.), which were defaulted to the middle as an assumption (5%, 15%, etc.). The numbers suggest typical energy savings for popular lighting controls. Personal dimming control was eliminated due to insufficient data sample that was producing a suspicious result (25% energy savings, much higher than previous research).

The results for the remaining control types contradict conventional wisdom in the case of occupancy sensors, which were expected to be higher (around 35-45%), and scheduling controls, which were expected to be lower (around 5-10%).

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Do verified energy savings meet or exceed specifier expectations?

Respondents were asked to rate how well various control strategies installed in their office projects over the past two years met their energy savings expectations on a 1-5 scale. A 1 indicates it did not meet expectation, a 3 that it met expectations, and a 5 that it exceeded expectations. Occupancy sensor, scheduling and daylighting control strategies were ranked very highly by respondents. Personal dimming was eliminated due to insufficient response.

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What if 80% of the lamps in your house had to be fluorescent? Part 2

Great conversation still happening in the comments section in an earlier post here. To which I’d like to add: Perhaps we are “banning” the wrong technology? CFLs save energy but…

Great conversation still happening in the comments section in an earlier post here.

To which I’d like to add: Perhaps we are “banning” the wrong technology?

switch

CFLs save energy but they have dimming issues with self-ballasted screw-in type units, thermal issues in some luminaires, sizing issues in others, color, time to reach full brightness, etc. Being forced to use CFLs will mean compromises for consumers of light.

Dimming, meanwhile, offers no compromises that I can think of except a cost adder compared to the light switch (which CFLs also have compared to the standard A lamp). Dimming enables homeowners to keep the advantages of incandescent lighting–warm color, easy control, instant ON, fits all existing luminaires, zero mercury in landfills (although admittedly more mercury would still be emitted by power plants producing the higher amount of electrical energy required), offers light distribution that existing luminaires were designed to produce. Plus many of them are made in America, not in China, and aren’t we trying to get more people employed on this continent?

Meanwhile, dimming can dramatically extend incandescent lamp life, which is good for the environment, and according to one study produces an average 20% energy savings.

I’d like to make the argument that if you use an energy saving halogen light bulb (such as the energy-saving version of Philips Halogena), which saves 30% energy at the expense of a 10% reduction in light output, plus a dimmer, which saves an average 20% in energy savings, and you get all the advantages of incandescent light plus longer life, with none of the disadvantages of CFLs, perhaps we are targeting the wrong technology?

Perhaps we should be allowing consumers to choose whatever light source they want, and instead ban the ON/OFF light switch and require dimming everywhere?

What do you think?

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Luminaire manufacturers offer new integrated classroom lighting solutions

In many schools, lighting eats up 30-40% of utility costs. As energy codes become more restrictive, can lighting satisfy the demands of the modern classroom, with horizontal and vertical workplanes,…

In many schools, lighting eats up 30-40% of utility costs. As energy codes become more restrictive, can lighting satisfy the demands of the modern classroom, with horizontal and vertical workplanes, computers and A/V equipment? To test one approach, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) engaged studies of a new Integrated Classroom Lighting System (ICLS) developed by manufacturer Finelite, which I wrote about in a whitepaper for the Lighting Controls Association, available here.

Litecontrol's CS/av luminaire in AV mode.

Litecontrol's CS/av luminaire in AV mode.

ICLS includes two rows of direct/indirect linear fluorescent pendants, mounted parallel to the windows and spaced about 15 ft. apart, with a wallwasher illuminating the main teaching board. Each luminaire includes three high-performance (3100-lumen) T8 lamps: two outboard lamps producing uplight and downlight, and a separately ballasted inboard lamp producing downlight. Both the inboard lamp and outboard lamps cannot be on at the same time, resulting in immediate energy savings. An occupancy sensor provides automatic shutoff when the classroom is empty, and an optional photosensor can be used to dim the lights when daylight boosts light levels above a target threshold. As a result, the NYSERDA demonstration project revealed ICLS reducing lighting power density to an average 0.73W/sq.ft., about one-half of the maximum limit posed by the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 energy standard. Teacher switches mounted near the main teaching board allow the teacher to switch from General Mode (downlight off, uplight/downlight on) to A/V (and reading) Mode (downlight on, uplight/downlight off). A dimming option (using a dimmable ballast) allows the teacher to turn on and dim the downlight component.

Other manufacturers are developing their own solutions based on the ICLS template developed by the California researchers, such as Peerless and Litecontrol. Litecontrol’s new Control Solution/av, for example, provides flexibility needed in today’s modern classroom, which often uses whiteboards, smart boards, computers and LCD projectors. The CS/av is prewired for easy teacher control in two modes using a simple switch—General, for general room lighting, and AV, for AV presentations. It is also integrated with dual-technology occupancy sensors and is available with daylighting control.

It’s not uncommon these days to see luminaire manufacturers beginning to integrate lighting controls into their products, whether it’s a new Peerless Lighting solution integrating Synergy Lighting Controls’ SIMPLY5 control system, Litecontrol luminaires with various control options, or Zumtobel’s ZX5 luminaire with Lutron’s Ecosystem.

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CABA Report Suggests Convergence of Green and Intelligent Buildings

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) has released a report on “bright green buildings,” which CABA defines as a “building that leverages intelligent technologies to support environmental sustainability while providing…

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) has released a report on “bright green buildings,” which CABA defines as a “building that leverages intelligent technologies to support environmental sustainability while providing a significant return on investment (ROI).”

The report, titled Bright Green Buildings: Convergence of Green and Intelligent Buildings and authored by Frost & Sullivan, features several application examples demonstrating how building owners have employed advances in green building and networking technologies to increase profits, lower costs and advance their sustainability goals.

A number of companies provided input, including Johnson Controls, Encelium Technologies, Natural Resources Canada, DELTA Controls, Watt stopper/Legrand, Cisco Systems, Global Environment Fund, Trane, Herman Miller and InfoComm International.

Click here to download this report free. (Warning: CABA will ask you for personal information to download the report.)

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Thoughts on Bi-Level Switching

Multilevel switching and personal dimming are often lumped together because the goal is the same–providing users a manual choice of light levels. The 2003 Advanced Lighting Guidelines, published by the…

Multilevel switching and personal dimming are often lumped together because the goal is the same–providing users a manual choice of light levels. The 2003 Advanced Lighting Guidelines, published by the New Buildings Institute, says they both save about 30% in energy.

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There is evidence that bi-level switching saves much more energy than personal dimming control, but personal dimming control is more comfortable and satisfying to users.

And when I say bi-level switching, I mean multi-level switching, where the inboard and outboard lamps in 3-lamp fixtures are separately circuited and independently controlled via switches. This allows there light and power levels, not two, specifically 33%, 66% and 100% besides OFF.

In previous research, it demonstrated energy savings of 8-22% (8% classrooms, 16% open offices, 22% private offices, ADM Associates, 2002) and 24% (San Francisco Federal Building project/study).

Personal dimming control has demonstrated energy savings of 6% (National Center for Atmospheric Research or NCAR study) and 11% (National Research Council Canada or NRC study, 2007). The savings are around 10%.

I think people are happier with personal dimming control and tend to stick with light levels they’ve chosen, which are retained in memory. But the energy savings just aren’t as high as when people are forced every time they enter their workspace to make a choice between stark lighting increments that also produce higher savings increments.

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Lighting Our Near Energy Future

Studies show that commercial buildings produce about half of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change—making these buildings the top emitter of human-caused greenhouse gases, ahead of cars and trucks—while…

Studies show that commercial buildings produce about half of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change—making these buildings the top emitter of human-caused greenhouse gases, ahead of cars and trucks—while consuming nearly three-fourths of electricity produced at power plants.

The Commercial Buildings Initiative (CBI) is a public-private partnership formed to achieve an ambitious goal: By 2030, new commercial construction will be zero-energy. That is, buildings of the future will consume 20% of the energy they do now, and meet the remaining requirements through renewable resources. Meanwhile, the existing commercial stock will reduce its own energy demand by 50%.

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) recently demonstrated a task/ambient Integrated Office Lighting System (IOLS) combining high-efficacy direct/indirect luminaires with an LED Personal Lighting System (task lighting). The system demonstrated lighting power densities of 0.5-0.7W/sq.ft., 36-55% lower than ASHRAE 90.1-2004/2007.

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) recently demonstrated a task/ambient Integrated Office Lighting System (IOLS) combining high-efficacy direct/indirect luminaires with an LED Personal Lighting System (task lighting). The system demonstrated lighting power densities of 0.5-0.7W/sq.ft., 36-55% lower than ASHRAE 90.1-2004/2007.

CBI’s creators state on their website: “As with the Apollo Program, which put the first astronauts on the moon, and the Manhattan Project, to design, build and test the first atomic bomb, CBI’s scope is broad, is intended to affect society comprehensively, and will require a large and concerted effort among many diverse players to achieve success.”

This is not about initial cost and quick paybacks, but a broad effort to halt the effects of climate change and its predicted impacts on all humans.

Reducing energy consumption in buildings by 50-80% is a tall order. We’re already asking these questions in the lighting field: How low can we go with watts? How low can we go with light levels?

Legendary lighting designer Howard Brandston writes in his new book, Learning to See: A Matter of Light, about what he calls the Political Energy Law: “Lighting consumes energy; therefore, when energy is abundant, use may increase, and when energy is scarce, it must be rationed.” Between 1913 and 1972, for example, light level recommendations for offices increased; since then, they have been decreasing. People’s visual requirements, Brandston notes, are not part of his Law. But while light is a commodity, lighting is an asset whose product is essential for commerce. Approach it only from a cost point of view, and you tamper with commercial success.

The U.S. Department of Energy sees LEDs as a likely solution. By 2025, DOE predicts, LEDs will reach efficacies as high as 160 lumens/W, about two times higher than fluorescent, 10 times higher than incandescent, and more than three times higher than the global and North American average of 50 lumens/W for lighting in all sectors. DOE, in fact, believes that solid-state lighting will provide most of our general lighting needs within the next 20 years. More light, fewer watts, more flexibility for design.

Don’t expect traditional lighting systems to go quietly (if ever), however, but instead become more and more efficient themselves into the near future. How can this occur, if we are indeed squeezing all of the watts out of luminaires and footcandles out of design? According to recent research, the answer may come from integrated design and lighting controls, lighting efficiency resources that have only been partially tapped.

Lighting controls, in particular, represent the new frontier of energy savings. At Lightfair, nearly 30 controls products entered the Innovation Awards, and a controls product claimed the Most Innovative Product of the Year and the Technical Innovation Award.

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) recently demonstrated a task/ambient Integrated Office Lighting System (IOLS) combining high-efficacy direct/indirect luminaires with an LED Personal Lighting System (task lighting). The system demonstrated lighting power densities of 0.5-0.7W/sq.ft., 36-55% lower than ASHRAE 90.1-2004/2007. The addition of an occupancy sensor controlling the task lighting was found to reduce energy consumption by another 20-30%. Learn more here.

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) recently studied another system produced by CLTC and manufacturer Finelite: the Integrated Classroom Lighting System, or ICLS. ICLS consists of teacher-controllable direct/indirect and whiteboard luminaires, occupancy sensor and optional photosensor. LRC studied ICLS in 28 classrooms and found it to produce an average 0.73W/sq.ft., nearly 50% lower than ASHRAE 90.1-2004/2007. Learn more here.

Both systems were developed to save energy while achieving lighting best practices, although they warrant further study in this area. They require changes to traditional design approaches, one requiring integrated design of general and LED task lighting, the other requiring the specification of controls as an integral part of the lighting system. They are also each likely to catch the attention of policy makers looking to save large amounts of energy fast while ostensibly preserving lighting quality. And each may be a sign of trends such as energy codes increasingly mandating design choices and controls increasingly being integrated into lighting systems and luminaires.

If LEDs are the future of lighting, are highly integrated systems such as IOLS and ICLS its near future?

Learn more about the Commercial Buildings Initiative here.

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