Last month, we published our annual construction forecast. We’ve been doing this gig for quite a while, and, if there’s a running theme connecting every forecast, it’s uncertainty. It’s not exactly the weather, and we give those guys and gals grief for their unreliability, too.

So this month, we turn to something you can control: controls. For years, it has been the inevitable next step in energy efficiency and automation after energy-efficient lamps and sensors reached their potential.

We begin with an old concept that runs all the way back to the days of Edison. In “Supply in Search of Demand,” by Chuck Ross, the idea of microgrids collides with smart and integrated systems. With today’s advanced control systems, yesterday’s technology is everything we need it to be now: energy efficient, resilient and controllable.

Still within the theme of control in a metaphoric sense, women in contracting are increasing their ownership of an industry that is historically dominated by men. In “Balance of Power,” by Susan Bloom, three female electrical contractors discuss how they took control of their companies and what it’s like to be a woman in electrical construction.

Next up, we have “Phasing in Intelligence,” by Claire Swedberg, which covers the realities of building intelligence. Automation used to be too expensive for small to mid-sized companies, but, with today’s technologies, it’s more affordable than ever, entering the realm of realistic and practical application.

Finally, controls aren’t just about function anymore. In “Tunable White Lighting,” by Craig DiLouie, we learn how a light source’s color appearance can affect behavior. DiLouie tells us lighting color can be tuned in classrooms, for example, to different modes throughout the day, energizing students or getting them to calm down and focus.

In our quest to stay current, a few Electrical Contractor staffers attended the BICSI Winter Conference in Tampa, Fla. BICSI supports the information and communications technology community with a trade show—where we checked out cool new products—as well as training in cabling installation, voice/data/video, life safety systems, security and more.

Also, do you want a shot at steering this ship? Consider looking into our subscriber research panel. Each month, we poll our readers on editorial topics and direction, and panelists are entered for a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card. You can get more info and sign up for it at ECmag.com/2017-panel-signup.