Intelligent Lighting Controls for Commercial Buildings
Recent studies have shown that 17.5% of global electricity consumption goes to lighting. This is a significant figure in terms of energy conservation and yet only a small fraction of existing buildings use intelligent lighting controls to control the amount of energy consumed by lighting – relying only on light timers or on/off switches to control the light.
Advancements in wireless technologies as well as computerized network systems now make it possible for intelligent lighting controls to be used in conjunction with smart grid applications and centralized energy management systems. With the growing green consciousness driven by the need to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, commercial builders are exploring into incorporating intelligent lighting controls and provide occupants better control of their lighting system.
A Basic Understanding of Intelligent Lighting Controls
Evolving beyond the standard capabilities of manual on/off switches, intelligent lighting controls have the capability of reacting to actual conditions in a particular area or section of a building. The “intelligence” in these control systems senses if people are present and how much artificial light is required in this particular area and would adjust lighting accordingly.
Such intelligent controls can significantly improve the energy efficiency of a building’s lighting system and cut down energy use considerably and reduce the building’s light-related energy costs by as much as 50 to 70 percent. With this much savings, building owners can realize a return of investment of their initial installation costs in less than 3 years.
Intelligent lighting control systems can also be integrated with advanced hardware and software control systems, providing facility managers better energy management capabilities as well as provide building tenants the option to control the light levels right in their own workspaces directly from their desktop computers.
Intelligent Lighting Control Trends for Commercial Buildings
The intelligent lighting controls market is expecting positive growth rates in the coming periods according to market intelligence firm Pike Research which forecasted global revenues to grow from $1.3 billion to $2.6 billion by the year 2016. During the same period, the research firm also forecasted market growth to reach $3.5 million.
These figures were derived from an in-depth study of 24 major players in this industry, taking into consideration the different lighting control strategies that are applicable to the different building types used in five world regions.
In California, the use of intelligent lighting control systems can help facilitate compliance to the EPAct, Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations as well as qualify for the various local and federal utility rebate programs. Aside from that, installations can give buildings an 18-point boost that they will need to qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) certification.
Aside from that, the use of intelligent lighting controls for commercial buildings is pushed forward by the statewide initiative CALCTP or California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program. The program recently received a 2-year, $5 million grant from the US Department of Labor to keep the program up-to-date with the latest in lighting technologies, enabling them to better pursue the following program goals:
  • Promote advanced lighting control systems through proper training and certification
  • Achieve commercial energy saving and reduce peak demand consumption
  • Produce and train 1600 graduates from the JATCs and the CCCs
  • Develop California ’s smart grid through integration with utility energy-efficiency and demand-response programs
  • Providing high-quality training opportunities for members of labor and trade organizations
  • Develop new business models by training contractors
  • Develop incentive programs for building owners to install lighting controls systems
  • Create Green jobs for the people of California
Market Outlook and Future Trends
Pike Research forecasted that the largest markets for intelligent lighting controls in the coming periods would focus on office and education buildings. Other industry segments that would take a considerable look at these lighting control systems include the healthcare, hotel and restaurant, retail, and assembly industries. From this forecasted market for intelligent lighting control systems, 73% would be allocated to building renovations and retrofits, while the remaining 27% would be integrated with new building constructions.