Article
Commercial building owners pondering renovations are quickly learning 
that building energy codes are getting stricter. Those codes are based 
on national standards that are increasingly focused on how lighting is 
controlled. The upshot is that any new lighting installations have to 
include some form of sensing to ensure that light fixtures aren’t turned
 on when they aren’t needed. <br>

Wireless Controls Bring Easy Energy Savings to Commercial Building Retrofits

Chuck Ross
Commercial building owners pondering renovations are quickly learning that building energy codes are getting stricter. Those codes are based on national standards that are increasingly focused on how lighting is controlled. The upshot is that any new lighting installations have to include some form of sensing to ensure that light fixtures aren’t turned on when they aren’t needed.

California was among the first states to begin requiring this level of control, in its state energy commission’s Title 24 energy code. It has since spread nationally in the latest editions of the nation’s leading energy standard, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineer’s (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” as well as in the International Energy Conservation Code. Specifically, these codes require interior lights to automatically shut off when spaces are vacant and that any automatic switching to also include a manual switch.

While building owners might immediately imagine meeting these requirements would involve an expensive building management system, this isn’t the case. Their electrical contractors have easy options that can satisfy local codes on a room-by-room basis – and these can be as easy as simply changing a room’s light switch and possibly adding a wireless, ceiling-mounted sensor.

In open spaces, like conference rooms and lobbies, wall-mounted light switches with built-in sensors could be a good choice. In office and retail spaces, which might be interrupted by cubicles or displays, a ceiling-mounted sensor might be needed to truly recognize when the area is occupied. Wireless offerings are an affordable add-on and can communicate with compatible wall switches, without any need for additional low-voltage wiring. Sensor batteries can last as long as 10 years, so the devices are virtually maintenance-free.

Of course, the benefits of adding occupancy-based controls extend beyond simply meeting broader code requirements, all the way to the building owner’s bottom line. By ensuring energy isn’t wasted in lighting vacant spaces, these simple investments will pay for themselves quickly in lower monthly utility bills.
Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics
Bridgeport AC/MC Fittings
advertisement
Bridgeport Exposed Location Products
advertisement