Beyond Energy Savings – Going Smart With Your Building Lights

Goh Wai Pheng

GM, Satcom & Sensor Systems, Electronics, ST Engineering

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is revolutionising building management beyond basic energy efficiency and security

The recent years have seen a major transformation in how lighting is provided within buildings, from basic illumination to energy-saving LEDs and now, intelligent lighting control systems that combine sensors and communication technology to open up a world of new possibilities.

Besides affecting the physical and emotional well-being of the building occupants, a building's interior lighting system is also a dominant consumer of electrical energy and a major source of internal heat. In commercial buildings it normally accounts for more than 30% of the total electrical energy consumed. Yet much of this expense can be avoided by specifying a high-quality energy efficient lighting system that utilises both natural and electric sources as well as intelligent lighting controls to provide a comfortable yet visually interesting environment for the occupants of a space.

The Internet of Things (IoT) network of smart sensors with data collection for backend analytics, is revolutionising the function of indoor and outdoor lighting systems – in addition to providing advanced lighting control with on-demand, predictive lighting, these systems establish a platform that offer enhanced building services, such as space utilisation, indoor tracking and optimization of the air-conditioning system, significantly improving the ROI of the lighting infrastructure.

To state the obvious - lights are everywhere people are. By embedding smart sensing and wireless networking technology into the ubiquitous lights, the opportunities for reduction in energy usage, optimisation in the working environment and new revenue channels are tremendous. If your estate isn’t smart, you, your staff and your tenants are probably missing out.

Some examples of the benefits that an IOT-enabled Smart Lighting System can bring are:

Energy Saving & Ambience Curation 

Data on human activity gathered via a connected network of motion sensors provides insight into a building's energy and utility requirements 24/7, exposing gaps in efficiency. It also allows businesses to curate ambient spaces for everything from shopping and service experiences to scheduling area maintenance and bathroom cleaning. 

Temperature & Air Optimisation

Data on temperature and other air quality metrics can be collected via sensors and sent to the building’s energy management systems for further data analytics. This comprehensive level of information at specific locations inside a building makes it possible to optimise interior air conditioning down to a very granular level.

Security Efficiency

The smart light sensors with their motion detection and networking capabilities allow special closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring zones to be set up. CCTV no longer needs to record continuously but is triggered only upon motion detection in the zone of interest. This will increase the capacity of CCTV storage, allowing video recordings to be stored much longer than otherwise possible.

Footfall Insight

Smart light sensors can provide data on the movement of people through shops, malls or workplaces, to build heat maps of traffic patterns. Commercial applications include identification of strategic locations for merchandising opportunities, product display and setting leasing rates amongst others. For workspaces, it can help managers plan more efficient work routines and operations flow. A further benefit is the reduction of light pollution, a scourge of modern-day LED lighting.

There can be no doubt that the additional services enabled by smart lighting are much more valuable than lighting controls and energy saving functions, especially since the insights of these systems provide both customer and workflow movements, delivering the potential to open new revenue streams and to ramp up workplace efficiency while at the same time reducing environmental impacts, and promoting health and work productivity. 

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