By Daniel Hollenkamp
Smart technology lights the path to a safer, more connected, and more sustainable world. Tomorrow’s cities will be marked by countless smart buildings that seamlessly interact with the people, systems, and external elements that surround them.
As construction executives, city planners, and building managers consider this future, there’s one factor that’ll ensure success — designing and implementing smart lighting controls. This blog discusses how smart lighting controls play an essential part in the design and development of intelligent buildings, and how ultimately lighting and controls will provide the Internet of Things (IoT) backbone that’ll save tomorrow’s smart buildings precious energy while slashing their costs.
Controls are crucial
For businesses, energy costs make up some one-third of budgets and energy production results in up to 20% of the nation’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report by ENERGY STAR1. By employing the correct smart lighting control technology, direct-wire LEDs, sensors, and more, users can reduce their energy costs by up to 80%. And in the midst of recent government initiatives and policies that prioritize green energy2, making it cheaper and more efficient, people have more incentive than ever to deploy smart lighting control technology.
Controls are crucial for implementing more intelligence and data connectivity into existing buildings. This is accomplished by taking a simple interface and helping it “talk” to standard lighting fixtures, retrofitting these systems and pulling them into a connected lighting system. Once installed, users and developers can easily update these lighting control systems as new tech evolves.
Connected lighting gives buildings an IoT backbone and breaks down any data silos they may have. Just as corporations falter when their teams don’t communicate effectively, buildings suffer when data isn’t shared across their utilities, thus creating data silos3. Having universal sensors that manage the lighting; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); and other systems is the best, most seamless way smart buildings can make the most efficient use of their data.
Smart lighting control technology creates a “unified building” by using one sensor variant to control multiple devices and saves money on equipment in the process.
The smart lighting revolution
Smart lighting control technology has evolved to where it’s easy to install and to where it fits the needs of any given building, whether it be a school, parking garage, commercial office building, or high-rise. It also creates opportunities to deliver improved human-centric lighting designs — flexibly programmed light levels and dimming schedules, color temperature and spectral changes, and other light characteristics that can impact human physiology and wellbeing.
It’s also important to remember we’re living in an era where the pandemic has changed the nature of building usage and, ultimately, the buildings of tomorrow. While traditional lighting systems are designed for “static use,” lighting control technology serves the new hybrid work model where some people are physically present in the office just a few days a week.
In this modern paradigm, fully-integrated lighting control systems will be a vital feature for commercial real estate executives and facilities managers looking to save energy and money.
No matter how you look at it, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies will both be crucial in future building constructions. Users and developers will be able to design lighting control technology that can read behavioral cues within rooms and adjust accordingly on its own. For example, through sensor analytics, the controllers can recognize when meetings typically occur within a conference room and automatically adjust that room’s brightness and lighting color temperature to fit the setting.
Recent technological advancements, paired with incentives that make lighting controls more affordable and more attractive, have made smart lighting the future of smart building and city development. Smart lighting control technology will revolutionize building design and infrastructure, and it’ll create a brighter, greener, and more cost-effective path to intelligence-driven buildings and cities across the globe.
1. ENERGY STAR, “Commercial Real Estate: An Overview of Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Opportunities” report.
2. ResearchAndMarkets, “Global Smart Lighting Market 2020–2025 — Government Initiatives & Policies for Energy Savings Triggers Massive Industry Growth” (Feb. 11, 2020).
3. C. Stedman, “Data silo,” SearchDataManagement definitions.
DANIEL HOLLENKAMP is chief operating officer at Toggled, a wholly owned subsidiary of Altair, providing efficient LED lighting and networked building products. Hollenkamp is responsible for Toggled’s day-to-day operations, overseeing sales, marketing, manufacturing, and research & development. Previously, he was Toggled’s lead manufacturing engineer, where he ramped up the company’s mass production efforts. He has more than 12 years of experience in electronics manufacturing and seven years of experience in the LED industry. Hollenkamp earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University.