Efficient lighting for people, not empty spaces

By Miguel Aguado, Marketing and Technology Manager at Lutron

From the need for greener, more efficient lighting solutions to the demand for digitally-connected, customisable experiences, commercial lighting has moved with the times. Not only do today’s buildings need to meet ambitious sustainability targets, user expectations have also soared, while achieving cost-reduction and increased efficiency is also imperative.

According to the Carbon Trust, lighting accounts for around 20% of all the electricity used in the UK. In an average office building, this figure soars to around 39%, and is even higher in specialised settings such as healthcare facilities (43%) and hotels (55%). With figures like these, it is clear that inefficient lighting must be addressed.

For example, in years gone by, to compensate for lumen depreciation over time, lighting was usually over-specified, and spaces over-lit. This is not only a clear waste of energy but results in uncomfortable spaces which impact users, reducing productivity and user satisfaction. We’ve all experienced the harsh effects of over-lit spaces, and even now it is not unusual for fully illuminated empty spaces, beaming inefficient lighting to office furniture rather than people.

However, with the 2021 edition of Part L Building Regulations now in effect, engineers, electrical contractors, consultants, and lighting designers working on non-domestic applications must now work to much stricter sustainability standards. This is the first time that UK building regulations have incorporated explicit requirements for lighting controls.

The core focus for Part L regulations is sustainability – all non-domestic new builds must produce 27% fewer CO2 emissions than previous standards. As part of this, the new Part L2 requirements specify that spaces should not be over-illuminated. Although the new regulations focus on lighting controls to enhance energy savings, they also go beyond the use of traditional energy saving strategies, such as LED lighting and presence detection.

Now, these new regulations provide an opportunity to incorporate the additional benefits that lighting control can deliver to create meaningful impact.

Fundamentally, a control system manages the inputs and outputs of the devices that are part of the lighting system to deliver value that is greater than the sum of its parts. With intelligent lighting control, you can realise multiple energy savings strategies which meet Part L2 lighting regulations, whilst improving the day to day experience of the people using the space.

These energy-saving lighting control strategies can include occupancy/vacancy sensing and daylight harvesting to save up to 60%, personal dimming control gives occupants the ability to adjust the light level and can save up to 20% while load shedding automatically reduces lighting loads during peak electricity usage times, saving up to 50%. Crucially, all of these savings can be realised while elevating high-end design aesthetics and a people-first experience.

Meeting regulations must not mean a depreciation in user experience. Regulations must be met, of course, but compliance is also an opportunity to elevate lighting experiences to create spaces users want to engage with again and again.

In fact, with intelligent lighting controls, facility managers can remotely monitor and adjust levels of electric light and daylight, while reporting and analysing usage, leading to greater efficiency, while impacting occupant experiences. From tuneable white and warm dimming tools to natural light control and privacy options through controllable window blinds, lighting is now a customisable experience.

For example, Sópers House, a new lifestyle office concept in London has used lighting control to offer a nuanced experience that spans professional and personal. With its contemporary office spaces alongside sophisticated co-working environments and health facilities alongside fine dining, next-generation lighting control was critical in realising a morning-to-night vision. Sópers House is just one example of how meeting regulations can go far beyond the tick-box, to offer custom-fit lighting control solutions that create amazing spaces.

With the convergence of the internet, smart devices, wireless technology and data analytics it is possible to unlock unprecedented value across the lifecycle. This not only applies to the direct management of the lighting but also the ability to check on the health of the system for predictive maintenance; remote access to regularly optimise the performance of the system; and of course, automation by using multiple sensor types and scheduled events.

In the past systems were rigid, specified on paper and delivered before the occupants of the space were present, or indeed before they knew how they wanted to use the space. Thanks to today’s smart and wireless technology it is possible to easily fine tune the performance of the system after during the lifetime of the installation.

Now, with intelligent lighting control, the functionality and performance of the system can adapt over time and provide continued updates so additional features and benefits are implemented to improve the value of the system.

By embracing these future-fit solutions now it is possible to meet today’s building regulations, meet sustainability goals and truly meet user needs in one smart, connected strategy.

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