Putting the spotlight on controls

For several years now the lighting industry has experienced an unprecedented period of invention, innovation and product and light source development. The majority of this has been in LED technology which has revolutionised the expectations of performance and energy savings that can be achieved from artificial lighting. 

Understandably, this pace of change has created an appetite for yet more innovation and invention as ever more energy reducing technologies are sought out.  A number of new technologies have been presented in the media and at trade shows in the last couple of years as complimentary light  source choices and of course Organic LED or OLED has been heralded for several years as the natural eventual successor to current technology LEDS, Philips being one of the biggest developers of such with our Lumiblades OLEDs.

Yet whilst innovation undoubtedly is essential to development of great sustainable lighting solutions, OLEDs in particular already being seen in more general lighting applications, there are a few fundamentals to consider when seeking technologies or methodologies to realise the need of ever greater energy savings, over and above current High Brightness (HB) LEDs.

The first is that LED technology already presents a platform for lighting which represents one of the most energy efficient and sustainable electricity-using technologies available. The second is that HB LED technology has not yet in itself plateaued in terms of increasing its efficiency, with improvements coming all the time. Lastly, the greatest energy savings of all are still yet to be realised in the installed estate  from HB LEDS due to the way we apply and work with lighting today.

Take control

I refer of course to the application (or lack of it) of lighting controls. The lighting industry via LIA (Lighting Industry Association) and other organisations such as SLL and PLDA’s representation to the DCLG and their nominated consultants have worked hard to develop a more intuitive framework for the future of Part L of the Building Regulations where lighting controls are concerned.

The proposed and expected inclusion of the Lighting Energy Numeric Indictor (LENI) as an option in Part L 2013 is a major step forward to this as it promotes the intuitive use of controls, and promotes best practice in the use of lighting to minimise energy consumption.

This is essential if we are to develop optimised energy efficiencies via lighting, whilst maintaining lit environments that promote health and wellbeing. Calculating intelligent usage, promoting best practice and allowing users to find the best lowest measurable energy consumptions, means the subsequent positive effects on productivity, a reduction in days lost to ill health and general benefits from improved work spaces are not compromised by a linear ‘blunt’ metric. In other words, that which has been the threat posed by the roadmap for technology performance as originally laid out in progressive targets for the notional building calculations in SBEM (Simplified Energy Building Model).   

It is this which is at the heart of successful mid-term progression to greater efficiency via Building Regulations, rather than progressing the base luminaire or light source technology requirements.

Part L

Whilst Part L is due to be finalised this April, with adoption in September, if LENI is included and then later adopted, as we hope, to be the main metric in the subsequent update of Building Regulations in 2016, we will be able to manage our own expectations of efficiency measured as an average per luminaire, per usage scenario, or by a Watts per square Meter. This can be lighting in isolation or as part of a much more realistic full building calculation. This avoids any horror scenario of lighting being restricted to pure technology demands and rendering us only able to supply bare T5 battens with high output fluorescent tubes to meet uncompromising technology requirements!

Having said all this, as the technology itself is concerned we constantly break new ground as the pace of technology advances. However, this must not mean ‘open season’ for legislators as this is only a reflection on general area lighting and should not compromise the inclusion of accent, task and ambient elements to schemes. Additionally it must not be an excuse to ignore lighting controls and inclusion of guidance on intelligent application of lighting within legislation, rather it is even more reason to discuss lighting management via controls to optimise energy savings.

In conclusion, LED technology and very soon OLED as complimentary technology will continue to deliver improvements in performance and energy efficiency over years to come. In particular the industry looks to lighting controls and better practices to optimise these efficiencies. Daylight harvesting via lux sensors can deliver up to 80 or 90% energy savings automatically at certain times of the day on luminaires in an office closest to the natural daylight provided by windows.  Taking a more holistic approach to lighting controls, and indeed better energy monitoring via smart meters and individual usage analysis, means we can optimise energy savings whilst delivering superbly lit, healthy and productive environments in a way never before considered possible.  

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