Something Extra on the Side: Lighting Systems That Do More Than Just Illuminate

By Susan Bloom | Aug 15, 2019
Signify's Interact Pro system enables remote monitoring and management of lighting using a web interface. Image Credit: Signify




Contractors are well aware that LED upgrades can improve lighting quality while significantly reducing energy consumption and costs. What they may not know, however, is today’s smart lighting systems can deliver a broad range of other benefits—including asset tracking, remote monitoring, zone programmability, scene control and more—that may be as, or even more, valuable to customers than their lighting performance and energy-efficient profile.

Here, several major lighting manufacturers discuss some of the nonlighting benefits their customers derived from recent smart lighting upgrades as well as the promise smart lighting holds for transforming building operations as we know them today.

Signify—making the grade at a Northeast school

Following the smart lighting upgrade conducted at Paul Smith Elementary School in Franklin, N.H., this past January, students and faculty are enjoying the powerful benefits of a connected lighting system without the downside of high installation costs.

According to Heather Milcarek, head of professional channel marketing at Signify (the new name of Philips Lighting), the school district was ultimately looking to reduce its energy and operating costs by optimizing their lighting usage.

“As with most projects in the education space, however, constrained budgets meant that a high cost of installation was a top concern,” she said. “With Interact Pro—Signify’s connected lighting system for small and medium-sized applications—the customer was able to limit initial costs due to the faster setup time while still being able to add dimming to existing suspended luminaires without the need for any complex control wiring or commissioning. The wireless setup and programming were quick and easy, which greatly minimized disruptions to school operations and hassle to the customer.”

Pairing Philips MasterConnect LED lamps with Zigbee Green Power wireless switches, Signify’s Interact Pro system enabled remote monitoring and management through a web interface.

A lighting upgrade at Don Wood Automotive enables the dealership to tune the lighting color to accent particular cars or complement the time of day. Image Credit: Ledvance

“Since they can see each and every light connected to the system, track when and where it was installed, how long the light is in use, and whether there might be an issue with any of the light points, the customer can now effectively optimize the lighting within their building,” Milcarek said.

In addition to the high-quality light and cost efficiency they deliver, Milcarek believes smart lighting will revolutionize building management by removing the need for manual intervention to achieve energy savings.

“Smart systems automatically adjust light usage based on predetermined conditions, thereby instantly optimizing energy savings, and also provide data that can be used to further adjust the settings and recognize even greater efficiencies,” she said.

Milcarek also is excited about the growing opportunity for smart lighting systems to help enhance productivity, engagement levels and focus the classroom and office.

“In schools, lighting can be quickly optimized to support situations from testing and independent study to reading and creative thinking,” said Milcarek, who noted that Interact Pro is the only lighting system that can support lamps, retrofit kits and new fixtures in just about any space. “Without the need for complex commissioning, customers can easily add the controllable functionality, which allows them to adjust light levels based on the task or activity taking place and to program lighting scenes via a mobile device to support a wide range of activities.”

Sylvania Smart+ Edge-Lit panels from LEDvance offer programmability and color-tuning capabilities. Image Credit: LEDvance

LEDvance—keeping a car dealership in the driver’s seat

Thanks to the smart lighting upgrade undertaken at Don Wood Automotive’s newly constructed Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in Rockbridge, Ohio, this spring, salespeople can tune the color of lighting to best showcase their cars as well as enhance their safety and security.

After introducing dealership owners to their Sylvania Smart+ Edge-Lit panels with Leviton switches to control the lights in the car showroom, the Don Wood team was sold.

“They liked the ability to change color—for instance, the opportunity to tune the color temperature to a warmer setting to make orange or red cars stand out or to cooler temperatures to accent blue cars—as well as the system’s dimming functions,” said Mark Scott, LEDvance senior sales representative. “They also appreciated the ability to turn on whichever fixtures they wanted in the evenings to showcase cars in the showroom as well as the flexibility of the lighting for security purposes.”

“If they decide to change a car’s position in the showroom, they can easily change the light patterns with a switch of the programming,” Scott said of the new degree of autonomy employees will enjoy.

According to Scott, smart lighting offers limitless options.

Among the many ways the dealership employees can use the system, “they can turn on different fixtures depending on the time of day—for example, the huge windows in the dealership let in a ton of natural light, so they can dim the fixtures during the day to save energy and brighten them as evening approaches,” Scott said.

“Specific fixtures can also be turned on to accent different vehicles, and employees can change the color temperature of the panels to simulate natural lighting from the sun during the day and engage greater warmth of color in the evening. This ability can even be a sales tool, as the dealership can show customers exactly how a car’s color will look at different times of the day,” he said.

As a result of these capabilities, “we recommend that electrical contractors continue to familiarize themselves with smart lighting solutions from proven lighting companies with a history in lighting,” Scott said. “These solutions can help future-proof their business so that they can deliver unprecedented new value to their customers and take advantage of new opportunities down the road.”

District Center in Washington, D.C., benefits from a smart, connected lighting system from Acuity Brands. Image Credit: Acuity Brands

Acuity—enabling analytics and occupant-centric lighting in retail, commercial office and education space

Retail giant Target recently worked with Acuity Brands to install over 2 million LED fixtures across almost its entire nationwide portfolio of 1,800 stores, an investment that delivered 10% annual energy savings—the equivalent amount of electricity necessary to power some 40,000 homes. Among the nonenergy benefits tied to Target’s lighting initiative were the wayfinding tools for customers enabled by the use of Acuity Brands’ connected luminaire—which involves sensors, battery packs, drivers and controls—at the store’s headquarters, and data from each location can be combined with other strategic corporate key process indicators to help optimize the business at the operational and strategic levels.

A smart, connected lighting system has similarly transformed operations at District Center, a 782,000-square-foot commercial office building located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Twenty years after its completion in 1998, the LEED building was updated using Connected Lighting and Building solutions from Acuity Brands—including Building Management Solutions from Acuity’s Distech Controls, connected LED luminaires from Lithonia Lighting, Mark Architectural and Juno and lighting controls from nLight—to meet the demands of today’s tenants.

Since the system’s installation, visitors to District Center will ultimately experience new streamlined digital registry, badge access and information look-up processes using a mobile app. Occupants will be able to set the room temperature, lower the blinds and book a meeting room from a mobile app or wall-mounted display, as well as prepare a room for a presentation from a remote location. The use of open protocol standards will enable building owners to engage in energy metering strategies and to choose service providers with the most competitive prices, all with little to no hardware upgrades or modifications.

Acuity Brands' Allure UniTouch touchscreen sensor can be used for a range of HVAC, lighting and sunblind applications. Image Credit: Acuity Brands

“With Acuity Brands and its technology solutions from Distech Controls, nLight and Atrius allowing for additional features such as digital signage, asset tracking, space utilization, tenant experience applications, customized scene control, conference room booking and much more, we’re just beginning to unlock the real value of connected building technologies across the breadth of facilities in the education, retail and commercial office segments,” said Laurent Vernerey, executive president of Acuity Brands Lighting and president of its technology business.

“This is the essence of our value proposition and our vision for the market,” he said. “Not only do we see a future where all luminaires are sensor-enabled, but they’ll also contain the communications technology allowing them to be connected to each other and the cloud. This technology not only provides direct benefits to building owners and operators in terms of energy savings, improved asset utilization, employee efficiency and total cost of ownership, but also allows building owners to future-proof properties by giving them a low-cost sensory network that can be used to drive the business performance of occupants within those connected buildings.”

Rick Earlywine, Acuity Brands’ senior vice president of architectural lighting solutions, confirms that the energy savings and networked controls that enable a facility manager to manage a space from one lighting system represent just the start. He said the conversation deepens as the capabilities of the digital network created by the connected LED luminaires are revealed in the form of data that can be used to optimize operations and assets to create a memorable customer experience.

“Connected lighting enables the development of digital experiences due to the wireless network and the actionable data that permeates the space,” Earlywine said. “The retail market is currently an active space for smart, connected lighting, as are the airport, education, commercial building and hospital markets, where wireless controls and section-by-section retrofits can help these facilities address requirements for OSHA compliance.”

About The Author

BLOOM is a 25-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products industry. Reach her at [email protected].





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