When the wireless revolution and energy efficiency collide

The latest technological advances have enabled facility managers to combat energy inefficiency and improve building performance through wireless lighting control. Andy Davies, head of business development and specification at Harvard Technology, explains.

Energy efficiency has become top priority for many organisations, as Government targets, stringent legislation and spiralling energy costs lead facilities managers to consider it throughout every aspect of building operation. For facilities managers, who are under increasing pressure to reduce energy usage and lower costs, whilst also safeguarding the comfort of the building occupants, the reduction that can be delivered by addressing lighting inadequacies simply cannot be ignored.

According to the Carbon Trust as much as 40 per cent of a commercial building’s energy costs are wasted through inefficient lighting. It is a figure made much worse by the fact that lighting systems within commercial buildings often functions using outdated and ineffective technologies – with fluorescent lights still common place – controlled by nothing more advanced than on/ off switches. This not only makes lighting extremely inefficient to control but also costly to run.

Monitoring lighting energy consumption in any facility can help to identify previously unseen issues that can directly impact both operational costs and the building’s environmental impact. It can also help to isolate the reason for high energy costs and help facilities managers to directly address problems before they cost the organisation substantially.

A well-specified wireless lighting control solution can not only deliver significant energy savings and carbon reductions, but also affect the ambiance of the building, the productivity and focus of its occupants and the entire look of the building. Therefore, careful consideration must be given to every aspect of a solution from appearance to efficiency and beyond.

Forward thinking facilities managers recognise the significant opportunities that wireless lighting controls and LED lighting innovations can deliver from an energy standpoint, especially as technologies advance in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT).

One of the most straightforward upgrades, and one which can bring immediate savings, is switching to energy-efficient LED luminaries, which can deliver significant energy savings on electricity bills of up to 50%. However, the most cost effective and efficient solution in commercial buildings is combining LED lights with wireless lighting controls. By pairing LEDs with innovative wireless control systems savings can reach as much as 75 per cent.

Previously, facility managers have been deterred by the drawbacks of installing more controllable options, with cost, downtime and the complex layout of buildings all contributing factors when opting against such solutions. The latest generation of wireless lighting control technology, however, are transforming the way commercial facilities are lit. Facilities managers, persuaded by their simple retrofit capabilities, advanced control options and ease of use, are increasingly adopting wireless lighting controls across their estates.

Modern solutions such as Harvard Technology’s EyeNut system are already delivering weighty energy savings for facilities managers across the world. The innovative cloudbased, IoT-enabled, wireless control solution for indoor lighting gives users the freedom to commission, configure and completely control lighting to maximise energy savings and reduce carbon emissions. What’s more, the solution enables multi-site control from a single hub – a key requirement for facilities managers tasked with managing multiple buildings across an estate.

Remote access to data on the commercial building, or multiple buildings, accessed wirelessly from anywhere in the world via a computer, tablet or even smartphone, enables facilities managers to track real-time reports on kWh usage and carbon, energy hotspots and even luminaire failures.

Through the solutions Graphic User Interface (GUI), usage patterns can be managed to enable the most effective energy saving strategy to be implemented. Luminaires can be switched or dimmed collectively, or individually, and scheduled to activate lighting when needed. EyeNut will also allow connection to building management systems and enable a variety of control strategies to be employed, for example daylight harvesting, occupancy sensing, time scheduling, and scene setting to maximise energy efficiency opportunities.

The benefits of technology need not stop at the front door. The next generation of intuitive wireless control technology, such as Harvard Technology’s EyeNut system, allows indoor and outdoor lighting controls to be combined on the one user interface for the first time. This allows users to manage and monitor both indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures, which makes it ideal for organisations with multiple sites as well as colleges and universities, airports, ports, shopping centres and even holiday resorts.

Tasked with reducing unnecessary energy expenses and meeting sustainability targets, facilities managers are realising the benefits that wireless lighting controls can deliver.

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