Category: Controls

Federal COVID Relief Funding Enables Intelligent Lighting Installation At A Community College

Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) announced it is modernizing buildings across its four campuses and the West Hills Center, as well as its building automation system, with occupancy sensing, improved LED lighting control systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) platform as part of a COVID-19 mitigation initiative and infrastructure upgrade from Enlighted, a part of Building Robotics Inc., a Siemens company.

Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) announced it is modernizing buildings across its four campuses and the West Hills Center, as well as its building automation system, with occupancy sensing, improved LED lighting control systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) platform as part of a COVID-19 mitigation initiative and infrastructure upgrade from Enlighted, a part of Building Robotics Inc., a Siemens company. Funded by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and accelerated by the need to help minimize COVID-19 exposure, the implementation will help increase the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community while creating a smart, connected campus prepared for the future.

The initiative will retrofit indoor spaces spanning more than 1.8 million square feet with an LED lighting and controls system consisting of 17,000 Enlighted IoT sensors across four campuses, and thirteen buildings. The IoT sensors, located in the lighting fixtures, will connect to Enlighted’s Data as a Service (DaaS) offering, Space, which will provide occupancy and utilization insights to lower energy usage and costs and make strides in furthering CCAC’s sustainability initiatives.

Benefits that CCAC will obtain by modernizing all building spaces include:

  • Automated operation that will adapt based on the use of the spaces by students, faculty and staff
  • Data insights and analytics to help direct campus cleaning and sanitation efforts for high traffic areas
  • Ensuring proper ventilation of air in spaces that are occupied
  • Understanding of space usage to help achieve social distancing and meet local capacity requirements
  • Analysis of space utilization for facilities planning and reduction or new construction guidance

The full article is available here.

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DOE Publishes Research On Connected Lighting Systems Challenges & Opportunities

In September 2021, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published a research study about how users and stakeholders engage with connected lighting systems (CLS) and make decisions during each step in the supply chain process, from production to operation, in commercial buildings in the United States.

In September 2021, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published a research study about how users and stakeholders engage with connected lighting systems (CLS) and make decisions during each step in the supply chain process, from production to operation, in commercial buildings in the United States. CLS have seen slower than expected adoption and have faced many operational and installation challenges since they were first introduced in the market.

The goal of this study was to provide an overview of:

  • The decision-making process for CLS and how/why technologies and features are selected;
  • The user experience in each step of the supply chain and the challenges faced;
  • Barriers to adoption for CLS and opportunities to address these barriers; and
  • Potential opportunities to improve the design of CLS to increase adoption and enhance usage.

Though important and influential to the CLS market, utility incentives, regulations, energy codes, and policy impacts were not a focus of the study.

The key challenges identified for CLS are:

  • Complexity and Variability
  • Experience and Relationship-Based Market
  • Contractor Apprehension and Reluctance
  • Consumer Lack of Perceived Value
  • Embedded Sensors & Controls
  • Cost Transparency
  • Interoperability

Potential opportunities identified to address these challenges are:

  • Workforce Development
  • Technical Research and Development
  • Data Collection / Field Validation
  • Market
  • Education
  • Stakeholder Engagement

Detailed research findings are available here.

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Luminaire Level Lighting Controls, Catching On or Catching Hell?

The Portland IES will feature a presentation by John Arthur Wilson of Fernhill Shopworks on Wednesday, February 16, at 11:45 am PST. Wilson will be presenting findings from his 2021 lighting controls research. The free…

The Portland IES will feature a presentation by John Arthur Wilson of Fernhill Shopworks on Wednesday, February 16, at 11:45 am PST. Wilson will be presenting findings from his 2021 lighting controls research. The free webinar is open to anyone in the industry. No pre-registration is required. Use the link below to join the Teams event :
“Luminaire Level Lighting Controls, Catching On or Catching Hell?”

His 2021 research also resulted in a learning guide that can be used to support basic education around wireless trends in lighting. NEEA has published that document on their Better Bricks website, available to the public here.

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GE Lighting Lauches Decorative Smart Lamps

Cync, powered by Savant Systems, Inc. (previously called C by GE) recently announced 11 new smart lamps at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Cync, powered by Savant Systems, Inc. (previously called C by GE), recently announced 11 new smart lamps at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Cync has committed to the new Matter smart home standard, a new foundation for connected things. Matter is an industry-unifying standard that is reliable and secure. Instead of having to fuss with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and other setup methods for smart bulbs and other in-home technology, Matter promises to let users take something out of the box, plug it in, and set it up right through an app – no extra connectivity steps or hassle. Matter was created by over 200 companies and it’s open-source, so Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon, iRobot, Philips Hue, Ecobee, Whyze, and hundreds of others have agreed to intertwine Thread, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even ethernet to let devices communicate with each other locally – no server-side cloud necessary.

The Cync portfolio grows now by 11 new lamps, including a candelabra and globe light, as well as its popular Reveal bulbs. After setting these up, you can control them by voice with the new Cync app, and even control them via schedules. These will be available at Lowe’s, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon this March of 2022 at the starting price of just $11.99 USD. The Cync app is updated to be interoperable with all of the new devices shown off at CES, including smart thermostat, smart camera, and more.

The full story is here.

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: NEC 2020 Impacts 0–10V Control Wiring

Per a change in the 2020 National Electrical Code effective January 1, 2022, 0–10V (Class 2) dimming wire insulation colors have changed to eliminate use of any reserved colors, notably gray. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) responded with an industry guideline adopting pink as a substitute.

Per a change in the 2020 National Electrical Code effective January 1, 2022, 0–10V (Class 2) dimming wire insulation colors have changed to eliminate use of any reserved colors, notably gray. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) responded with an industry guideline adopting pink as a substitute.

In this article written for the December 2021 issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, I discuss the color change and then take a quick look at the cost-effectiveness of 0–10V versus digital dimming.

Click here to check it out.

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Lighting Control Takes on Plug Loads

My contribution to the October 2021 issue of tED Magazine covered growing demand for plug load control in new buildings, a need that can be handled by lighting control systems.

My contribution to the October 2021 issue of tED Magazine covered growing demand for plug load control in new buildings, a need that can be handled by lighting control systems. Reprinted with permission.

In the past 15 years, commercial building energy codes increasingly incorporated automatic control of lighting loads. While the combination of LED lighting and detailed control strategies dramatically curbed lighting’s share of building energy consumption, code makers started to address plug loads, a substantial load and the fastest-growing type. Again, lighting controls can help by integrating plug load control.

The problem

Plug loads include any devices that plug into standard electrical receptacles, such as task lighting, computer printers, photocopiers, cell phone chargers, personal fans/heaters, and appliances like coffeemakers. Many applications feature plug loads, though office buildings are quite intensive.

A great deal of office equipment is used intermittently during operating hours and not at all overnight. Equipment with enabled standby mode will go idle but still draw power. Even equipment that powers to Off may continue to draw a small amount of power as long as it’s connected to a socket, so as to be able to restart quickly; this is called a vampire, phantom, or parasitic load.

Plug and process loads accounted for 40 percent of commercial building energy consumption in 2017, according to the Department of Energy. A study estimated plug loads ranging from 25 percent in an overall less-efficient building to 50 percent in an overall high-efficiency building.

A solution

Image courtesy of Leviton

By automatically removing these devices from power when they’re not being used, significant energy savings can result, ranging from 20 to 50 percent. A 2012 General Services Administration office building study found that even with standby mode enabled, automatic receptacle control captured significant energy savings ranging from 26 percent in workstations to nearly 50 percent in kitchens and printer rooms, with highest savings for 24/7 devices such as printers, copiers, and kitchen appliances.

The energy savings were compelling enough to convince code makers to adopt the strategy. California’s Title 24, Part 6 and codes based on ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1 (2010 and later) and the 2021 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) require automatic receptacle control. Specifically, a significant portion of receptacles in certain spaces be automatically controlled by scheduling, occupancy sensing, and/or automatic signal from another building system. The lighting control system offers these inherent control capabilities that can accommodate plug load control. Hotel and motel guest rooms have separate but similar requirements.

“Integrating plug loads with the lighting controls makes sense because it reduces the number of devices that need to be installed and therefore the cost and complexity of the total system,” said Charles Knuffke, Systems Evangelist, Wattstopper/Legrand (www.Wattstopper.com). “Instead of having separate timeclocks or occupancy sensors for the lighting and plug load controls, a single input device can communicate to both lighting and plug load controllers.”

He added that one set of inputs makes it easier for the owner to understand and manage their operations. If a networked control system is installed, the sensors can serve lighting, plug load, and HVAC control.

Options

When enacted by the lighting control system, a plug load control solution uses scheduling, occupancy sensing, or a combination of the two (e.g., scheduling during day, sensing at night), depending on the system.

Scheduling is relatively simple and well suited to larger, open applications with predictable occupancy and loads that must remain On during business hours even when they’re not being used. A manual switch on the receptacle or nearby wall provides user override up to two hours.

Occupancy sensing is based on detected rather than predicted occupancy, which can generate higher energy savings. This approach is ideal for smaller, enclosed spaces where occupancy is intermittent and unpredictable. If the sensor is auto-On, it can function as its own override.

The controlled load is the receptacle, able to respond to a control signal or fed power by a branch circuit that can respond to the signal. Some wirelessly controlled receptacles also feature onboard power metering. In a duplex receptacle, both outlets can be controlled or just one, allowing the uncontrolled outlet to operate loads that must remain On. Energy codes require controlled receptacles be permanently marked to distinguish them as controlled; starting in 2014, the National Electrical Code produced standardized markings for use.

“Contractors and facility managers will want to ensure a balance between efficiency and convenience, installing well-marked, controllable receptacles in locations that are reserved for loads like task lighting, small appliances, and small electronics such as heaters and monitors not designed for 24/7 use,” said Devis Mulunda, Product Manager – Vive Wireless, Lutron Electronics (www.Lutron.com).

Image courtesy of Lutron Electronics

These automatic receptacles can operate independently, as in the case of onboard timer/timeclock functionality for scheduling, or be controlled as just another load by the otherwise installed lighting control system: controllable circuit breaker panelboard, lighting control relay panel, or a relay in a dedicated powerpack. The system may be wired or wireless. If the overall control system is networked, power metering can be achieved and there is potential for more sophisticated dashboard control. Plug-in advanced power strips can be effective for retrofit but are not code-compliant for a new build.

“The implementation strategy varies based on what type of technology you are deploying in the room,” said David Buerer, Director of Product Management, Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. (www.Leviton.com). “If your solution is wallbox sensors, then it can be as simple as adding a second wallbox sensor control receptacle. If ceiling sensors and power packs, then adding a second power pack in auto-On mode. If more of a system, then you’ll be adding a wireless controlled receptacle, smart pack, wireless powerpack, or the like to gain receptacle control.”

Buerer added that after installation, it’s important that users be educated about the purpose and operation of the controls and how to identify which outlets are controlled, which will help ensure acceptance.

Final word

“Since plug load control is required by energy codes, the electrical distributor’s customers will be looking to the distributor to define what the code’s requirements are, offer products to meet the code, and explain the many features and benefits of the methods that can provide plug load control,” Knuffke said. “Look for manufacturers that can provide a range of solutions: relay panels, plug load powerpacks for simple component solutions, plug load controllers for intelligent systems, and controllable outlets. Ask if controls are available that use wired and/or wireless communication.”

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DesignLights Consortium Seeks Assistance for Study of Non-Energy Benefits of Networked Lighting Controls

As it seeks to quantify the non-energy benefits of networked lighting and advanced building controls, the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) is asking for input from facility managers for a short online survey. Results of this research will yield monetized estimates useful for product marketing, efficiency program incentive promotion, and facility management decision making.

As it seeks to quantify the non-energy benefits of networked lighting and advanced building controls, the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) is asking for input from facility managers for a short online survey. Results of this research will yield monetized estimates useful for product marketing, efficiency program incentive promotion, and facility management decision making.

“Networked lighting controls (NLC) and other advanced building controls have reported benefits beyond energy savings, including improved occupant productivity and comfort, reduced maintenance, improved space utilization and lower carbon emissions,” DLC Technical Director Stuart Berjansky said. “Aside from limited case study evidence, however, minimal data exists to support and quantify these advantages. The DLC’s study aims to close that gap.”

The study is focusing on four building types: office buildings, hospitals and health care facilities, educational buildings, and warehouse and light industrial facilities, and covers a range of advanced controls including NLCs; integration of building systems that allow information sharing between NLCs and other systems; building IoT that provides data about the conditions within a building; and analytics applications that collect information from building systems.

With a goal of completing surveys by the end of September, the DLC is seeking facility managers to complete a 15- to 20-minute web-based anonymous survey, and to send their building occupants a link to complete a separate five-minute survey. Both surveys ask respondents about their experiences with various control measures and include comparison questions to establish relative values among different non-energy benefits. The DLC plans to complete the survey phase of the study by the end of September.

To protect confidentiality, the DLC is not requesting confidential data, the release of sensitive customer contact information or sharing of customer identities. In all cases, the DLC will not divulge any information or results about individual buildings or persons contacted.

Facility managers interested in the survey should send an email requesting a survey link to the DLC’s contractor, Lisa Skumatz of Skumatz Economic Research, at skumatz@serainc.com. To broaden the reach of this research, the DLC is also requesting design professionals, integrators, sales agents, manufacturers and contractors who have been involved relevant projects to inform their facility managers about the study. The DLC will provide a copy of survey results to any company that connects the study team with site managers who complete the survey.

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: Get to Know NLCs

In my most recent contribution to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, industry consultant Steve Mesh makes the case for ECs to get to know networked lighting control systems.

In my most recent contribution to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, industry consultant Steve Mesh makes the case for ECs to get to know networked lighting control systems.

“Are networked controls more complex than line-voltage devices cut into switch legs?” Mesh said. “Of course. But it doesn’t take much to develop proficiency in these systems. Of course, it takes some extra effort and training. Is it worth it? That depends on how badly you want new sources of revenue. If I were an EC, I wouldn’t hesitate.”

Check it out here.

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A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings

Working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Brattle Group has developed A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings. The Roadmap outlines DOE’s national goal to triple the energy efficiency and demand flexibility of the buildings sector by 2030, relative to 2020 levels.

Working with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), a team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Brattle Group has developed A National Roadmap for Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings. The Roadmap outlines DOE’s national goal to triple the energy efficiency and demand flexibility of the buildings sector by 2030, relative to 2020 levels. It also defines technology attributes, integration considerations, and barriers to achieving the full potential, adoption and deployment of GEB. DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) makes 14 recommendations to overcome those barriers in “action steps” that all key industry stakeholders can take–starting today–to expand the prevalence of grid-interactivity in buildings.

The Roadmap defines a GEB as:

Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) are energy-efficient buildings with smart technologies characterized by the active use of distributed energy resources (DERs) to optimize energy use for grid services, occupant needs and preferences, and cost reductions in a continuous and integrated way. In doing so, GEBs can play a key role in promoting greater affordability, resilience, environmental performance, and reliability across the U.S. electric power system.

By combining smart technologies and distributed energy resources with energy efficient buildings, GEBs can provide comfort and convenience for building occupants, sell services to the power grid, and cut costs and pollution. The Roadmap finds that over the next two decades, GEBs could deliver between $100 and 200 billion in savings to the U.S. power system and cut CO2 emissions by 80 million tons per year by 2030, or 6% of total power sector CO2 emissions. That is more than the annual emissions of 50 medium-sized coal plants, or 17 million cars.

Click here to download the Roadmap.

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Lutron’s Devis Mulunda Talks Plug Load Control

I recently had the opportunity to interview Devis Mulunda, Product Manager – Vive Wireless, Lutron Electronics about plug load control for an article I’m writing for the October issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Transcript follows.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Devis Mulunda, Product Manager – Vive Wireless, Lutron Electronics about plug load control for an article I’m writing for the October issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: What is plug load control, and what benefits are derived from it? Why should electrical distributors care about or invest in promoting this category?

Mulunda: A plug load control is a device that allows a receptacle to be turned on or off either automatically or manually. Plug load controls are often part of a connected building system that employs inputs from devices such as sensors, keypads, or other controllers.

In commercial buildings such as offices, classrooms, retail stores, and hospitality spaces, plug load control is typically used as part of an effective, code-compliant strategy for achieving energy-use goals by ensuring devices such as small appliances, desk lamps, and monitors are turned off when the space is vacant.

State and local energy codes are more frequently requiring plug load control as part of energy saving strategies. Contractors will count on their distributors and lighting manufacturers to guide them to the solutions that most easily support code requirements.

Residentially, plug load controls are most commonly used on exterior fixtures as a convenient means of turning seasonal and other landscaping lighting on and off at appropriate times, and as an energy-saving strategy.

DiLouie: What are the options for controlling plug loads?

Mulunda: Residential and commercial strategies for plug load control are different. The commercial solutions are driven primarily by state and local energy code requirements.

Commercially, a variety of spaces are already required to meet the automatic lighting shutoff provisions in many energy codes. A Lutron Vive Wireless Receptacle, for example, works with the same occupancy sensors and switches that control the lighting. These receptacles can work as a stand-alone solution, or they can be used in conjunction with a smart hub for app and dashboard capabilities.

Residentially, smart plug load controllers, such as the Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug, simply plug into a standard outlet, and then allow the user to plug a light source or small motor into that smart plug. That appliance can now be controlled by a Pico control, the Lutron App, or a smart home assistant. Smart plug control is especially useful for exterior, seasonal lighting, landscape lighting, or appliances like outdoor heaters or irrigation systems.

DiLouie: What are the advantages of controlling plug loads with a lighting control system?

Mulunda: In many commercial applications plug control allows the facilities team to take advantage of existing devices such as occupancy sensors that are used to meet code and save energy. As part of a smart lighting control system, plug loads can be added to building management dashboards that display status and report energy use, and plug load data can be shared with other building systems – same sensors, same control, same programming.

In the home, plug load control offers set-it-and-forget-it convenience: Seasonal lights, sprinkler systems, and other plug-in landscape lighting can be programmed to a schedule that beautifies the home while reducing energy waste. Installation is as simple as plugging the smart device into the appropriate wall outlet (the Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug must be plugged into a GFCI protected outlet).

DiLouie: What are strategies for implementing plug load control via a lighting control system?

Mulunda: Plug load strategy is primarily driven by state and local energy codes, many of which increasingly require up to 50% of outlets in certain areas to be controlled. Contractors and facility managers will want to ensure a balance between efficiency and convenience, installing well-marked, controllable receptacles in locations that are reserved for loads like task lighting, small appliances, and small electronics such as heaters and monitors that are not designed for 24/7 use.

In the home, plug load controls are most often used for convenience and energy saving to automatically switch exterior string lights, seasonal lights, and small motors.

DiLouie: What are the advantages of either wiring or going wireless with communication?

Mulunda: Wireless solutions are easier to install, require less material, and typically don’t require opening up walls or disrupting space occupants. This makes wireless solutions suitable for both existing building retrofits and new construction, but especially advantageous in existing buildings that may not have the infrastructure in place to accommodate a wired approach.

Considering the relative age of commercial buildings – The US Energy Information Administration’s 2018 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey reports that 54% of U.S. commercial buildings were built between 1960 and 1999 – there is tremendous opportunity for energy-saving upgrades.

Demand for renovations, coupled with the fact that many wireless solutions can be completed with off-the-shelf, in-stock materials, represents a significant opportunity for electrical distributors and their contractors who can win more jobs and then get them done faster with wireless.

DiLouie: Are there any special “bells and whistles” distributors should be aware of and propose for certain applications?

Mulunda: Plug loads that are integrated into a comprehensive, smart lighting control solution can be part of the building’s overall energy-saving strategy. Like all other loads associated with the system, certain smart receptacles can be monitored and adjusted via a convenient app, and energy use can be reported on the same building dashboard.

In the home, smart plugs not only offer energy savings and convenience, but they can work with a variety of smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and more.

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