Lighting control – can you afford not to?

Budget cuts and the need to save energy are just two of the driving factors for the widespread installation of lighting management systems. Here Stephen Woodnutt of Delmatic looks at how such an installation can really help to make a difference to every commercial building.

The ability of a lighting management system to eliminate the unnecessary use of lighting in commercial buildings is well documented, but despite this there are still many buildings which are failing to achieve these savings because the owners still believe that the costs of installation are too high.

In fact nothing could be further from the truth because if you look at the performance of a lighting management system throughout the life cycle of a building then you might be surprised by the level of savings which can be achieved. The question which you should therefore ask yourself is not whether you can afford a lighting management system but whether you can afford not to install one.

Manage the change

A lighting management system puts you in control, allowing you to optimise energy efficiency and sustainability while at the same time providing total flexibility through the addressable control of every luminaire in a building. By combining comprehensive central management and monitoring of the installation with powerful local user control, you are able to ensure that energy is not wasted but at the same time that the comfort of the occupants of a building is maintained.

But a lighting management system is not just about meeting the needs of the building today because just as important is that it can react to the inevitable changes which take place throughout the life cycle of a building and be adapted to suit the evolving operational requirements of the client.

A good example of this is the installation of a Delmatic lighting management system at Eleven Brindleyplace, which contributed to this becoming the first building in Birmingham’s Brindleyplace development to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating.

The lighting management system which was installed provided fully flexible addressable dimming control of lighting within office areas and used a number of products from the Metro range which are controlled through a graphical software interface.

Importantly the system provided total flexibility for incoming tenants who were able to configure it to suit partitioning and open plan zoning and adjust the lighting levels to suit their individual preferences. This also means that in the future, as tenant changes take place or when new partitioning or zoning layouts need to be made, this can be achieved through the simple drag and drop software without any rewiring to achieve the most energy efficient arrangement.

By addressing all of the requirements of the building, including manual control of lighting, daylight-linking, presence detection, absence detection and automatic control; savings can continue to be made throughout the life cycle of the building.

Maintenance savings

The ability to make savings is not just about taking into account the energy which you are saving through switching off unnecessary lighting – you also need to take into account the savings which can be made on maintenance.

In any typical commercial building there will be a re-lamping programme to replace lamps on a regular basis and ensure that the comfort of the occupants is maintained at all times. But this will inevitably lead to many lamps being replaced before the end of their natural life while others may well have expired long before the date of the planned maintenance.

This problem of wastage can effectively be solved through a lighting management system which uses animated graphics to provide real time monitoring and displays comprehensive information on system operation including the active status of each luminaire. The benefit of this type of system is that you are able to log the lamp hours of each individual lamp and generate a re-lamping schedule for optimum replacement – another area which will generate savings in the longer term.

Addressing Part L

We have addressed some of the practical benefits of a lighting management system but it is also worthwhile mentioning Part L of the Building Regulations. Part L sets requirements for the conservation of fuel and power which helps to encourage the take up and innovation of more energy efficient and low carbon technologies.

We are all familiar with the current requirements of Part L but all this looks set to change in the next few years. The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) recently published its consultation document outlining changes to the Building Regulations, including Part L which suggests that both the energy and the carbon limit targets for buildings will be further reduced in the future.

What this effectively means is that more savings need to be made in commercial buildings and with many companies already having addressed the ‘quick wins’ such as swapping to energy efficient lamps and installing more energy efficient heating and cooling equipment, the installation of a lighting management system is the obvious choice to meet the new targets.

Lighting accounts for around 25% of the annual electricity consumption in most commercial buildings in the UK and therefore even the most basic presence and absence detection can help to achieve major savings. The installation of a more sophisticated lighting management system will further increase these savings while at the same time providing a degree of flexibility which enables the full control of every different type of light source.

So, if we look to the future when the proposed changes to Part L take place, a lighting management system will go a long way towards achieving the additional savings which need to be made.

You’re in control

The ability to control every aspect of a building is essential and with the threat of higher energy efficiency targets on the horizon now is the time to address the issue of commercial lighting and more importantly how to control it.

It may have been an expensive solution in the past but times have changed and now it is possible to install a cost effective solution for every application which range from the control of whole lighting circuits to addressing individual luminaires.

The benefits are endless and if you take into account the immediate energy savings gained through switching off unnecessary lighting as well as the longer term maintenance savings then you can start to see the bigger picture. In addition, by integrating the control of lighting and H&V equipment much larger savings can be made which will contribute to meeting your energy efficiency targets.

As I said at the beginning it is not a question of whether you can afford it but more whether you can afford not to – isn’t it time you asked yourself that question?

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