Seeing the Light – How Property Investors can Get Smarter with their Lighting Systems
Given the fact that it takes in the region of 25,000 watts to illuminate a 100 sq. metre space, and that during the course of a single year based on 60 hours per week usage the Kilowatt Hour tally is going to reach over 78,000, it’s no surprise that energy efficient lighting systems are in huge demand.
Commercial property investors are doing what they can to meet that demand. After all, it’s in the best interests of their occupants to be in a position to drive down costs, reduce wastage and keep workforces onside. And of course, satisfied occupants make the best tenants, which means everything to the property investor.
Artificial intelligence (AI), one of the most important emerging technologies of this decade, has the ability to help reduce light energy waste. In doing so, it boosts the value factor for building owners and occupiers, whilst at the same time optimising building owner satisfaction and user comfort levels.
Why sensors need to be smarter
Occupancy or motion sensor-controlled lights have been used in washrooms and the like for years. The light automatically comes on when the sensor detects movement, heat or sound, then switches off after a set time when nothing is detected.
‘A smart lighting system powered by a fully connected platform that draws input from a number of different sources, in real time’
Photosensors work by sensing ambient light conditions. Their aim is to improve comfort. So, for example when the natural light starts to fade, the sensors prompt the lights to come on and blinds to open.
All of these sensors have the core aim of reducing light energy wastage. Whilst sensors are great for smaller rooms however, installing them on a bigger scale in a larger, open floor office would not be ideal. Imagine lights switching on and off every time someone moved or didn’t move. Timer delays on this scale can leave occupants in the dark at the wrong time, and sound sensors reacting to unintentional loud noises.
Photosensors have their downsides too. They can have blind spots, plus the controls really only work optimally when used in offices with large windows where large amounts of direct sunlight flood in. There’s also the issue of variations between natural light levels across the different seasons of the year.
In theory, you could combine all the sensors available into one system with a view to keeping everyone happy at all times. But someone would still need to programme the controls, which would mean they would need to be around all the time. And even then, there’s the issue of changing preferences because there are countless factors that influence comfort levels.
So, what is the solution?
A smart lighting system powered by a fully connected platform that draws input from a number of different sources, in real time. But it needs to do more.
The importance of colour changing lighting for workplace well-being
The human body’s circadian rhythms (or body clocks) are greatly influenced by light. White light, naturally emitted from the sun during the daytime, slows down melatonin production in the body.
This is good news during working hours, because melatonin is the sleep-inducing hormone. Without white light, we start to feel drowsy and unable to focus. Productivity and concentration levels plummet.
However, too much white light is known to put stress on the body and throw circadian rhythms out of balance. Without a good balance, workers can suffer sleep disturbances and other health disorders such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and bipolar behaviour.
‘If we are exposed to the wrong shade of light at the wrong time of day, then we will suffer negative health effects’
As the day goes on, so natural light emissions change. In the morning we have greater intensity of blue light. Later and for most of the day it’s white light, then as the sun starts to set it’s yellow light.
If we are exposed to the wrong shade of light at the wrong time of day, then we will suffer negative health effects. Precisely why it is essential that smart lighting systems respond to natural body comfort needs i.e. ability to change colour according to the time of day.
The added benefit of colour changing systems, aside from promoting workplace well-being, is heat energy waste prevention.
Avoiding the overuse of bright white light when it’s not needed, particularly in buildings where adequate cooling systems aren’t in use, will reduce waste as well as cut wear and tear of luminaires.
Smarter lighting for the workplaces of today
To make lighting smarter, it is necessary to map out, group and classify all the lights in a building. Protocols can then be set to automatically control the lights – on or off, brightness increased or decreased, light colour changed in response to environmental factors and patterns.
There would also be the option to preserve certain groups of lights for whenever demand grows or there are outages. Now there is reduced need for human intervention; energy consumption drops, and overall costs fall.
‘all the business intelligence they need to make beneficial changes and potentially significant savings within the organisation’
The use of artificial intelligence automation cuts out the need for human monitoring of lighting systems, which is not failsafe. It means typical patterns are no longer missed, and managers’ time is liberated to focus on the day to day.
It’s all of major benefit to everyone involved with the building, from owners and managers to the people who work within it.
A smarter lighting system will take input from everyone who uses it, and perhaps even other sources, at any time. This input is the intelligence that powers it. So, there has to be a way to feed all this information into one central location, in real time.
It’s all possible with Internet of Things (IoT) technology. By connecting light control devices and sensors to a private broadband connection in the workplace, anyone in the building can input preferences to the system in real time with an IoT app like Smart Spaces (that is, if the user is given permissions).
The data collected is published on the IoT app which can be accessed on a permission basis. So those who are in charge of energy consumption and costs monitoring will have all the business intelligence they need to make beneficial changes and potentially significant savings within the organisation.
Smarter savings, smarter technology
All in all, the combination of colour changing and dim-capable LED lights; a range of sensors; AI automation; machine learning and Internet of Things will all work together to make lighting systems smarter, savings greater, and wastage lower.
‘It’s not about putting smart light bulbs into every socket. This is far more sophisticated’
It’s not about putting smart light bulbs into every socket. This is far more sophisticated. This is an overriding platform that manages a centralised lighting system with the utmost efficiency, allowing limitless combinations of fine-tunings in real time.
It can be factored into new-builds, refurbishments and even retro-fitted to create smarter buildings that offer an array of advantages to everyone who works in them, manages them and owns them.
Smart Spaces is an advanced building engagement and control platform. Its dedicated energy function is able to monitor the energy consumption of specific categories, including lighting. Users get to control their own environments via an app. And real-time feedback and reports recommend alterations to control methods so that energy consumption and expenditure can be reduced.
To learn more about Smart Spaces and to arrange your free demo, visit https://www.smartspaces.app/.