The building sector is considered among the most energy consuming sectors across the world leading to the rising demand for innovations that promote energy saving. A closer look at the sector reveals that lighting consumes the highest percentage of building energy needs.
Continuous development in smart building technologies has led to the popularity of smart lighting solutions as more efficient compared to the traditional bulbs that require human touch. Unlike the older construction models, smart buildings rely on automation to perform tasks such as heating, air conditioning, security, lighting and more through connected lighting systems (CLS).
The lighting systems are an Internet of Things (IoT) invention comprising of light fixtures with sensors that are centrally networked in order to receive and send data. Advancement in lighting controls towards automation of functions has earned a lead position as to why smart buildings are gaining popularity.
Features of smart building lighting system
When selecting smart building lighting options, it is important to consider the features on offer in order to reap the full benefits of automating beyond energy and cost saving. These features elevate the capabilities of a smart building beyond what basic lighting could do not only for the occupants but also for the investors who are able to achieve higher profit margins much faster.
These features include the following;
Intelligent control system
The smart building lighting system needs to be intelligent as it is expected to operate independently in making decisions depending on the designer predetermined reactions to environmental inputs. It should react to occupancy, motion, temperature, time, weather and energy consumption. For example, security lights in a building should be able to sense the presence of something in the area and light up or sense darkness and light up if they are meant to be on all night.
Independent and customizable control system
The light bulbs should be able to receive instructions to give separate outcomes meaning each bulb can be programed to do something different from the others. By simply reading data coming from the cental system.
A cental server is important for efficient operation of the smart building lighting. This means that it should either have a centralized server or cloud connected to one database for the entire building. In addition, the system should be centralized in a way that allows controls to be done from a number of internal and external locations.
Smart building lighting system should be able to receive instructions from the database as well as share information with the operator. The all the lights should be equipped with sensors that capture important data about the building environment and relay this information to the operators who use it for decision making. This communication is important as the data collected serves to make the smart building more intelligent.
Benefits of smart building lighting
There are many benefits arising from the use of smart building lighting systems. Some of them include the following;
While a bit obvious, smart building lighting is offering more energy saving potential than changing to LED bulbs would. The lighting systems are integrated and do not just cover lights but also other electrical devices such as fridges, electronics and any light energy consuming utility. Integration means energy saving is not siloed but rather managed from a centralized system.
Through their intelligent nature, smart building lighting can easily learn which parts of the building require less energy and when leading to an overall reduction in energy consumption.
Improved building safety
From turning on upon occupancy to motion detection, smart building lighting systems offer improved security because they raise occupants’ curiosity on why the lights suddenly went on. This means that outsiders have a harder time sneaking into building without checking in with the guards.
Additionally, instead of leaving lights on during the night for visual purposes, smart lighting that sense motion makes it safer by lighting upon detection hence eliminating the need for blindly finding the switch.
Promotes efficient maintenance of buildings
With a lighting system that collects data effectively, building maintenance can be improved based on the information collected regarding occupancy of spaces within the building. This means that if a space is not used then the cleaning schedule can be readjusted to focus more on areas that have higher traffic.
Smart building lighting as a COVID solution
Smart lighting does not require human tough to switch on lights and other features within a building which makes the technology ideal in the current pandemic where close human contact is discouraged.
In the normal setup of buildings, people visiting public spaces for work and other activities have had to worry about touching contaminated surfaces. Through smart building lighting the need for contact is eliminated as motion and occupancy sensors take charge.
Apart from handling the need for switches, the lighting systems are able to provide data on human traffic through their sensors which building managers can utilize to reduce congestion within spaces.
There is also potential for tracking those who were in the building which could make contact tracing easy in case there are positive cases. Such abilities mean that through smart building lighting, management of the current and any future pandemics within buildings could be easier.
The future of smart lighting
With climate scientists warning of a worse future, there is need to take advantage of systems such as smart lighting which have a lower carbon footprint and also help save energy. The need for more resilient and sustainable building technologies means that smart building lighting will only grow more advanced and it is best to grow with it.
Organizations, real estate developers and even home owners looking to save energy and benefit from smart lighting should consider investing more in smart building lighting systems. As smart building technologies advance, the place of smart lighting increases as technology allows for more intelligent devices to be installed within the systems.
This means that this form of lighting is far beyond looking for more energy efficient bulbs or simply shifting to solar systems. Further, advancements in the role of data in decision-making makes the intelligent lighting systems within a building a limitless investment that could offer service beyond the building.