The Internet of Things has made connected technology commonplace in modern building construction. We’ve quickly become acclimated to such things as building management
systems alerting us when something goes awry and conference rooms
that automatically change lighting and temperature based on occupancy.
But the Internet of Things isn’t just about the “things.” Smart technology
is also about creating the right environment – one that benefits building
occupants throughout their workday.
Lighting control is key to establishing that environment, observes Matt
Ochs, Director of Product Management at Lutron Electronics.
“A smart building is human centric,” he says. “It’s focused on making
spaces more comfortable for its people. A truly smart building can simply
and unobtrusively change the environment around people to meet their
needs. It also offers strong visual connections to the outdoors and brings
natural light indoors, while providing high-quality light for the task at hand.”
Human centric spaces. Indeed, creating a truly smart building isn’t just
about cutting costs; it’s about a broad approach to efficiency and comfort.
“Many companies talk about human centric lighting as just circadian
lighting control, but we at Lutron take a much more holistic approach,”
The cornerstone of this philosophy is the “3-30-300 rule,” which
maintains that an organization’s annual building budget costs fall into three
tiers. Energy and utilities cost approximately $3 per square foot. Rent is
$30 per square foot. But personnel – that is, the human capital in your
building – is $300 per square foot.
So an initiative that saves energy is valuable, but it’s only a fraction as
valuable as one that supports the people in the workplace. That means
creating dynamic spaces – whether offices, classrooms, healthcare
facilities, or public areas -- that change with you as your needs change.
Smart buildings utilize:
• Tunable white illumination that adjusts color and intensity depending
on the time of day;
• Sensors and timeclocks that adapt spaces automatically;
• Dimming technology that can change light levels with precision and
• Automated shades that minimize glare and provide access to the
• And personal control with keypads and remotes.
The result: smart spaces that sustain and support the people in them.
Space utilization reporting. Whether they’re connected through wired or
wireless protocols, robust lighting control systems include dashboards that
collate space utilization information into a real-time, actionable presentation
on system operations. This data lets building managers coordinate spaces
and adjust for room occupancy, and also allows sustainability managers to
shrink the overall carbon footprint of the building or campus.
Energy usage and alerts. The same software can monitor energy usage
in a small space, a floor, an entire building or even – with some systems
– a full campus, giving facility teams data to program efficiently. Moreover,
advanced lighting control systems integrate easily with HVAC and other
building systems through protocols such as BACnet, increasing system
effectiveness and enhancing the value of smart control solutions.
Also, monitoring software can constantly check for lighting issues and
send immediate email or text alerts if there are lamp or fixture problems.
No more waiting for an occupant to put in a repair requisition or – worse
– letting the issue fester for weeks before being informed that there IS a
problem. To quote the old saying: “Time is money.”
Even with LED lighting, lighting control can cut energy costs by double-
digit percentages through strategies such as timeclock programming.
However, personal control, such as remote and voice technologies, is a
surprisingly valuable way to trim energy usage.
“Giving employees personal control of their light has been proven to
further reduce energy by 10 to 20 percent,” says Ochs.
Controlling shades. Daylight from windows generally plays a significant
role in office buildings. Lighting control systems can be a positive force,
through one of the most underappreciated forms of light control: shades.
With modern shading fabrics, not only can shades help reduce
temperature, but also cut glare – all the while maintaining views to the
outside. Equipped with sensors and software, lighting control systems can
be programmed to move shades up or down based on the time of day,
outdoor conditions, and even the geographical location of the building.
All in all, smart lighting control does more than simply turn lights on and
off. It’s a comprehensive way to manage your whole building – and help
improve the comfort and productivity of the people within.
Why lighting controls are key to your smart building
“Quality light and effective lighting control
should create dynamic environments that
enhance the human centric experience,” says Ochs.