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In Focus: Advanced Lighting Control Technology Improves Efficiency and Lowers Costs

Terry Mocherniak, Director of Global Business Development, OSRAM SYLVANIA (April 2012)
Improving the energy efficiency of a commercial building and reducing its operating costs is on the minds of many in today's economy. As lighting regularly accounts for nearly 40 percent of a commercial building's electricity consumption, it serves as a prime target in these efforts. Utilizing advanced lighting control technology will cut overall electricity usage, lower related costs, reduce greenhouse gases, and promote sustainability.

Energy-Management Strategies
Today's addressable lighting control systems provide unprecedented control of a building's lighting energy usage through the use of six key energy-management strategies:

  • Daylight harvesting to automatically adjust interior light levels, taking into account the natural sunlight entering the building;

  • Personal software-based controls to give individual occupants control of their own workspace light levels from their desktop computers;

  • Occupancy control through the use of occupancy sensors to automatically turn lights on and off - or dim them - based on detection;

  • Smart-time scheduling to provide scheduled switching or dimming of lights in building areas where occupancy sensors are not appropriate;

  • Task tuning to set default maximum light levels to suit the particular task or use of a workspace in order to eliminate over-lighting; and Variable load shedding to allow for the automatic reduction of electrical demand by shedding light loads dynamically - through dimming or switching - either to shave peak demand or to respond to a utility price or demand response signal. While some of these strategies have been used independently for some time, the ability of advanced systems to seamlessly integrate and deploy them on a facility-wide basis is yielding far greater energy savings.

Continued Mandate for Sustainable Buildings

Furthering the mandate for energy-efficient commercial buildings, the Obama administration established the Better Buildings Initiative last year. With the specific goal of making commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020, the program provides a series of tax breaks and grants as well as enhanced financing opportunities for commercial retrofits. The Better Buildings Initiative is also designed to improve the bottom line for building owners by reducing energy bills by $40 billion per year.

Case Study: Goshow Architects' Headquarters in NYC
An example of green building at its best is the headquarters of Goshow Architects, one of the nation's leading sustainable design architectural firms. The firm had two primary goals when it relocated to a new 8,000-square-foot Manhattan office space. Those were (1) to design a sustainable office space and (2) to certify the project under the LEED-Commercial Interiors (CI) rating system. One major obstacle was that the HVAC system was owned and operated by the landlord. Therefore, in order to make an impact on the energy usage of the space, the focus shifted to energy-efficient lighting and energy management. The results have far exceeded original project objectives. Lighting energy consumption has been reduced by 49.6 percent, lighting energy demand has been cut by 37.9 percent, and 29,412 lbs. of CO2 emissions have been eliminated. In addition, the space is now LEED-CI certified.

How to Get Started on Reducing Lighting Energy Use

The first step toward gaining control of lighting energy use and expenditures is to have a vendor complete a lighting audit. Through an audit, the vendor can identify the "low-hanging fruit" in terms of efficiency and detail how a pilot program on strategic areas would demonstrate potential energy savings and reinforce the findings of the audit.

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