Integrate for success

Stephen Woodnutt from Delmatic explains why lighting control can enhance sustainability and provide savings where you need them most.

You could be forgiven for thinking that lighting controls are a new phenomenon because it is only in the last few years that we have really begun to hear more about this type of technology.

Well I can assure you that this isn’t the case, because lighting controls have been around for a long time, but as energy prices continue to soar, many companies are now taking the issue of control a lot more seriously.

One of the main drivers for this change has been the introduction of government legislation and the need to be more environmentally friendly. As a result of this many companies who are faced with this challenge are now seeing that lighting control is in fact a very cost effective way to meet their carbon reduction targets.

Cost effective control

In the past lighting control was something which was only a serious consideration for large companies and owner-occupied headquarter buildings. However over the last few years a lot has changed and now the technology on the market has become more flexible and cost effective which has signalled a change in the way that we look at the issue of control.

Flexibility has always been the key to the success of any new technology and as far as lighting management is concerned this is becoming ever more important. A flexible system allows clients to reconfigure parameters to suit changes in workplace layout and function, and so enhances the sustainability of the installation and building.

A lighting management system which is correctly installed and maintained will optimise energy efficiency and sustainability by providing fully addressable control of every luminaire in a building. But in order to maximise savings it has to provide the ability to combine comprehensive central management and monitoring with powerful local user control which is easy to use.

In a typical system, virtual wiring technology links each of the luminaires to local control devices through software which enables the complete system to be programmed and adapted to suit the needs of each individual building. This means that even if the layout of the office space changes on a regular basis, the control system can be easily re-programmed to suit.

This provides numerous benefits which include the ability to monitor the lighting in real-time and make any necessary adjustments to maximise energy savings. However another benefit comes from the fact that this monitoring will allow you to log the lamp hours of each individual luminaire and thus generate a recommended re-lamping schedule which will provide longer term savings from the reduction of wastage.

Integration

But it isn’t enough to simply install a lighting management system and sit back and wait for the savings to appear because in order to meet the targets set by the government and achieve true savings we also need to address the issue of integration.

Integrated, open systems are at the heart of energy efficient control, seamlessly joining together products from various manufacturers and disciplines to optimise the operation of a building. For example, a lighting management system relies on the use of PIRs for presence detection. If the PIR’s were also linked to the air conditioning system you could use them to ensure that you weren’t cooling or heating a room which was unoccupied.

This pooling of information can be applied to any number of services in a building to increase energy savings and enhance the efficiency of the building services. In addition, the introduction of powerful user controls enable individuals to locally monitor and adjust their environment using a variety of devices including wall switches, hand held transmitters, desktop controllers or IP telephones; so making changes to the control system is very straightforward.

This is without a doubt a very difficult time for this industry as we are faced with making savings and improving the operational efficiency of every commercial building in the UK. But while it may seem like a daunting task, that needn’t be the case.

The installation of a lighting management system is a very good place to start, particularly as lighting accounts for around 25% of an organisation’s electricity costs, but the key to success will be integration as it is here that greater savings will be achieved in the long term.

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