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Integrating Your Building Management System With Lighting Controls

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Jason Pohl

Historically, installation of lighting systems and controls was kept separate from other building systems. But this siloed approach no longer makes sense in an age of smart building technology. Building owners and facilities managers are realizing that integrating an intelligent building management system with lighting controls is a powerful way to lower energy costs and improve performance.

Smart Lighting Control Strategies

Smart technologies like IoT sensors and analytics with machine learning (ML) capabilities have transformed what lighting systems can do. A 2020 report by California Energy Commission, for example, found that occupancy-based adjustments and daylight dimming could reduce energy use by 73% more than conventional time-based lighting schedules. An earlier study commissioned by the United States Department of Energy found that advanced lighting control strategies reduce lighting-related energy costs by an average of 24-28% and lower the overall cost of operation.

The benefits of integrating an intelligent building management system with lighting controls also go beyond energy efficiency. Thoughtful control strategies enhance safety and allow you to create more comfortable spaces for occupants. In short, they make buildings function better.

Some of the most popular control strategies include:

Manual controls

Manual controls allow users to choose illumination levels. While this has historically been the least efficient strategy, advanced manual controls that alter lighting levels in stages or through smooth transitions offer an average energy savings of 31%. 

Time scheduling

Time scheduling is more than just turning lights on and off. Adjusting a lighting system’s energy output with strategic time-based dimming provides energy savings of up to 24%. It works well in large, open spaces that are occupied regularly, along with areas that require lighting throughout the day for safety and security purposes. 

Occupancy sensing

Automatically turning on lights when a space is occupied and turning them off when unoccupied produces an average savings of 24%. Sophisticated strategies that involve more nuanced adjustments improve efficiency further. This strategy works well in smaller offices, conference rooms, break rooms, and restrooms, though it may be used in larger spaces as well.

Institutional task tuning

Institutional tuning alters illumination based on either user preference or Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recommendations for specific tasks. This innovative approach offers an average savings of 36%.

Demand response

Demand response involves reducing power for lighting based on peak hours to minimize costs. Typically, this means dimming rather than turning lights off entirely. In one field study, this reduced energy consumption by nearly 25%.

Daylight response

This strategy adjusts lighting in response to daylight availability. It works by reducing light output once illumination levels reach a targeted threshold, as determined by light sensors. This reduces energy consumption by an average of 28%. It works well for lighting zones next to windows, under skylights, or any area that offers sufficient ambient lighting. 

Color tuning

Commonly used for signage, entertainment venues, or similar applications, color tuning dims colors within LED lights to produce specific lighting effects. This can reduce energy usage by 38-44%—and possibly much more. In addition to reducing energy consumption, color tuning can be used to imitate incandescent dimming, blend artificial lighting with daylight, imitate traditional lighting sources, or stimulate circadian rhythms. 

Wireless Lighting Control and Sequencing

IoT devices and advanced analytics make developing and implementing effective lighting strategies easier than ever. But one of the most valuable components of a smart lighting system is wireless technology.

Wireless lighting controls within an automated building management system reduce the cost of installation and integration by eliminating the need for wiring. This opens up new opportunities to create control strategies customized to your needs and goals, even in buildings with legacy equipment. However, with each device working in a somewhat dissimilar fashion, it’s important to describe how lighting in a space should function using sequencing. 

For example: 

  • All light fixtures can dim and be controlled wirelessly, either independently or in tandem depending on zoning.
  • Lighting turns on only by manual activation of a wall switch. 
  • Wall switch nearest the entry controls on/off and dimming features. 
  • Fixtures dim smoothly in areas designated as daylight zones when sunlight is available.
  • Lighting shuts off automatically when a room has been vacant for an allotted time period. 

Well-planned sequencing allows lighting to operate seamlessly and with extraordinary efficiency.

Unifying Your Building Management System With Lighting Controls

Integrating your building management system with lighting controls puts better strategies within reach. A master systems integration (MSI) expert will design a custom solution to unify building systems and add cutting-edge smart technologies in a way that makes sense for your building. With the right approach, you gain deep visibility into your lighting and realize the full benefits of advanced automation. 

Buildings IOT offers state-of-the-art solutions for integrating your building management system with lighting controls. Contact our team of experts to learn more about what we can do for you.



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