Commercial Owners Sensing Savings in Today’s Smarter Lighting Controls

Once upon a time, commercial office buildings were lit up like candles 
24 hours a day, perhaps because installing the right control systems was
 more expensive than the electricity used to power all those light 
fixtures. That time has long passed though, and today’s owners are 
looking for new solutions that maximize the contribution of natural 
sunlight, where and when possible, and minimize the use of electric 
lighting in unoccupied spaces. These combined demands are driving a 
growing market for light and occupancy sensors in lighting designs both 
large and small. RAB Lighting

Chuck Ross

Once upon a time, commercial office buildings were lit up like candles 24 hours a day, perhaps because installing the right control systems was more expensive than the electricity used to power all those light fixtures. That time has long passed though, and today’s owners are looking for new solutions that maximize the contribution of natural sunlight, where and when possible, and minimize the use of electric lighting in unoccupied spaces. These combined demands are driving a growing market for light and occupancy sensors in lighting designs both large and small.

Additionally, building codes that reference increasingly stringent energy standards also are pushing the use of sensors in new construction and larger renovation projects. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Standard 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” the most-frequently referenced energy standard in the United States, now requires occupancy sensors or automatic timers or scheduled shutoff control in most building spaces. Additionally, interior lighting must be automatically controlled when top and side daylighting is present.

Standards developers are becoming more comfortable mandating sensor use because products are becoming both less expensive and easier to install. Many of today’s offerings feature wireless communications, often without need for WiFi as the individual devices can establish their own mesh networks, and some are even self-powered. Intelligence, either within the devices or supplied by cloud-based services, can determine not only on/off operations, but even use real-time daylight measurements to adjust fixtures’ dimming levels. This level of performance, when paired with high-efficiency LED fixtures, can pay for itself quickly – even in replacement scenarios – thanks to the resulting savings in energy costs.


Photo courtesy of RAB Lighting