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Lighting controls solutions for the commercial sector

If you built a new commercial building ten years ago, the chances are that there would have been minimal smart lighting management devices installed. Light fittings would have been chosen to meet the lux levels requirements within the facility, and simple switches—and perhaps a sensor—would have been installed to control the lights. By contrast, today we are seeing a growing trend towards more sophisticated lighting control solutions within the commercial arena, many of which can be programmed to operate with little or no human intervention.

Given the escalating demand for automation in the residential and hospitality sectors, plus the increasing interest across all sectors in the ‘Internet of Things’ to facilitate interconnectivity between smart components or devices, the interest in commercial lighting controls is probably inevitable. But what factors are driving and defining this trend?

Environmental considerations naturally play an enormous role in promoting lighting control technology, as this is a relatively easy way to moderate energy use and reduce the carbon footprint. Here, a number of key regulatory drivers are helping to shape the lighting standards for the commercial sector.

The National Construction Code (NCC) sets energy usage limitations for lighting for different building occupancies, and if designers want to incorporate feature lighting they are often compelled to use energy-saving strategies in order to remain within the guidelines’ restraints. Working alongside the NCC, there are two important national rating tools for buildings: Green Star promotes energy efficient design; and NABERS encourages energy efficient performance. In addition to this, many states also operate energy saving schemes (such as the NSW ESS, VEET and REES schemes in NSW, Victoria and SA respectively) that further encourage developers to invest in energy-saving technologies.

While these codes, tools and schemes are designed to reduce energy use, they also have the obvious additional benefit of reducing operating costs for the building occupier. Incorporating lighting control technology alongside LED lighting upgrades can reduce lighting energy running costs by 75 per cent or more, and not uncommonly result in payback periods measured in months rather than years.

Moreover, the inherent flexibility that lighting control technology delivers means that lighting hardware can be easily reprogrammed to meet changing needs over time—as would be the case with new tenants or the addition of new processes—thereby reducing both the cost and disruption normally associated with replacing lighting infrastructures.

Enhancing productivity can further reduce costs. The concept of tailoring lighting to specific tasks is not new, but current research into the concept known as ‘human centric lighting’ has further identified the positive impacts on people that optimised lighting can have. These studies reveal that our circadian rhythms are affected by both the colour and the intensity of light, and that if these are adjusted throughout the day employees can remain more alert and focussed when they need to be and more relaxed towards the end of the working day. This technology, still very much in its infancy, is predicted to promote job satisfaction, reduce absenteeism and boost productivity in the workplace.

Sensing changes
Recognising the many benefits to the commercial sector of utilising lighting controls, Legrand has recently acquired London-based CP Electronics, a leading specialist in energy-saving lighting controls for commercial, public sector and domestic environments. CP Electronics has developed its own in-house technology to deliver tailored lighting solutions to meet customers’ exact specifications for commercial applications of all size.

A key part of CP Electronics’ solutions is the company’s range of intelligent sensors that can measure ambient light levels as well as detect human presence through PIR and microwave technology. These sensors can trigger both switching and dimming and are ideal for daylight harvesting applications, where lighting is balanced with natural daylight levels to maintain target lux levels. CP Electronics’ solutions can operate as stand-alone entities or be integrated with other systems, such as HVAC or building management systems. Importantly, the technology allows the user to monitor lighting energy use—both facility wide and by user-designated area—to help determine where further energy can be saved.

While these lighting systems have the capacity for manual override, in practice these are rarely needed. If the solution has been correctly specified, installed and commissioned, the sensors will be able to switch and dim lighting as necessary to maintain ideal light levels for all occupancies.

With this in mind, Legrand will provide training on the CP Electronics solutions for our network of preferred systems integrators to help them leverage the best out of the system so that it fully meets the end users’ needs.

As requirements change within our customers’ facilities over time, our integrators will be on hand to reprogram the systems, and such is the programmability of the CP Electronics system that complex lighting scenarios can be established to achieve a broad range of sophisticated outcomes. For example, out-of-hours scenarios or auto occupancy strategies can be utilised to dim the luminaires to a certain level to maintain a level of comfort and safety when the area is not occupied.

At Legrand, we believe that the acquisition of CP Electronics has completed our lighting solutions offering in the commercial building sector, providing a one-stop-shop that will both simplify and enhance projects for our customers. The move towards increased use of lighting control solutions in the commercial sector will help meet legislative requirements, improve environmental performance, reduce operating costs, and create pleasant productive places to work. With the inclusion of CP Electronics’ solutions, Legrand can better help our customers be part of this trend, augmenting both their efficiency and performance into a more sustainable future.

Tags: building, commercial, cp electronics, electrical, energy efficiency, hospitality, LED Lighting, lighting, office, project, sensors