Trevor Palmer, VP Controls, Applications & User Experience, Distech Controls, an Acuity Brands Company
One of the most significant shifts in the building management systems (BMS) industry has been the move to integrate lighting and traditional HVAC controls. It’s truly a big move, as these two domains control more than 60 percent of a building’s energy bill. Moreover, they directly impact the comfort and productivity of every occupant in a building.
The advantages of this “marriage” are obvious. Lighting is pervasive. Where there is light, there is power, and this solves a major challenge in architecting control networks using traditional means, or adding more complex technology, like wireless networks, to reduce installation costs. Merging lighting and HVAC domains can create a robust network of permanently powered devices which can be leveraged as an overall building communication network.
Simplification is another benefit. Consider the multiple systems facility managers have to learn, manage and service within a building. Putting these systems on the same platform, and interacting with a single user interface to manage them drives operational costs down and simplifies the facility manager’s life. Moreover, a simpler network, requiring fewer network and field devices drives down the initial capital cost of installing building systems within the facility. Further, the user interface for the building management system can exist on a PC, a mobile device or be resident on each device within the facility so decisions and action can be taken anywhere, at any time.
LED lighting makes the story even better. LED devices can be intelligent, carrying built-in processors that can do more than simply provide illumination. They are excellent candidates for built-in luminaire control, and since lighting is everywhere in a facility, they make a great host for other sensors that support building tasks beyond energy functions, including security, access and occupancy sensing. LED Lighting also serves as host for a greater amount of data that the building system can analyze and act upon more effectively. This data enables better analytics and insights, allowing building managers and owners to make smarter decisions about the space.
For example, a combined lighting and HVAC controls system can capture information on occupancy, temperature, CO2 levels, light levels and traffic patterns in every space. Occupancy sensing data alone can do more than just turn lights on and off. Knowing when and how spaces are occupied can drive richer space utilization and optimization strategies.
A few years ago, BMS vendors were selling energy management and comfort control. Now, with unified lighting and BMS systems, we can do more than drive energy cost down. We have the opportunity to deliver even more value, with solutions that help optimize building operations and enhance the occupant experience, improving their well-being and making them more productive. It’s an exciting time in our business.