By Jon Theis, Director of TheisCraft.
No matter the size or structure of an organisation, it is essential for systems and infrastructure to efficiently and seamlessly support core business functions. So, when working and living habits change, facilities managers must ensure buildings are adapted and maintained accordingly to optimise systems and improve employee and occupant experience.
Now that the UK has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, many businesses and educational, commercial and residential facilities are capitalising on the subsequent cost-savings, improved productivity and optimised processes that flexible working has produced.
But the logistics of monitoring the availability of space and navigating security, environmental and energy regulations whilst accommodating new ways of living and working has proved challenging.
Technology such as intelligent lighting control systems is instrumental in making the ‘new normal’ a practical reality. Automated lighting products within buildings allow managers to customise space and create the most suitable environment possible — all whilst keeping costs down.
Now, three trends are emerging within the lighting control industry — flexibility, connectivity and sustainability. When implemented correctly, these trends will keep buildings in line with energy and environmental regulations and help facilities managers stay on top of the changing demands of their role.
Flexibility Wired In
Flexibility is at the centre of the post-pandemic world. As a result, facilities managers are turning to intelligent lighting control systems to customise an area to suit a business’ needs and optimise the use of space.
For example, innovative coworking offices tend to have different areas for different purposes — from lounges for relaxation to computer stations and meeting rooms for sharing ideas. Scene-setting technology in lighting control systems can create the desired ambience for each area without needing multiple control points.
And it is not only office buildings that can benefit. Lighting layouts in hotels — where every room or floor needs to create a different mood, look or feel — can be tailored and controlled from a centralised station with tablet or scene-plate control.
Plus, the levels of light in a room can directly impact the mood and health of occupants — a vital consideration for facilities managers across all sectors. ‘Human-centric’ lighting balances artificial light to replicate the natural daylight cycle, mimicking our internal body clock (or circadian rhythm) to stimulate productivity and promote well-being.
Connected And In Control
Wireless interconnected networks and the internet of things (IoT) are trends observed across many industries, as rapidly developing technology facilitates a ‘smarter’ way of life. Now that more people are working remotely, staying connected and informed with granular data is crucial — and valuable when overseeing multiple sites.
Intelligent lighting control systems provide this information and allow facilities managers to save time and gain better control of building management. For example, in buildings such as 10 Queen Street Place, intelligent emergency monitoring software monitors all the emergency lights linked to a system and automatically schedules and performs self-test — removing the need for building or maintenance managers to check emergency light fittings manually.
Lighting control systems can also be fully integrated with other building management systems via wireless networks to provide an extra layer of security. For example, motion and occupancy sensors can be programmed to alert security professionals to an intrusion — and emergency monitoring systems can link to building alarms, triggering emergency LED luminaires.
Plus, lighting controls allow facilities managers to customise the ambience of a space. They are easier to retrofit and maintain than complex wired lighting systems and provide a centralised lighting hub from where facilities managers can monitor and adjust lighting systems across multiple areas.
Minimal Energy Waste
Since businesses were forced to operate remotely, many have embraced new technology to fine-tune their systems and processes to save energy and money. Ensuring resources are not wasted with lights left on when no one is occupying a space is critical for keeping costs down.
And this is not just a matter of saving money; with companies worldwide concentrating on becoming more sustainable, lighting control systems can ensure buildings only use the minimal amount of energy necessary at all times. In fact, lighting control systems can generate energy savings from 35 to 40 per cent in commercial and institutional buildings — music to the ears of any facilities manager.
Presence and absence detection technology in these systems is key to making sure no lights are left on accidentally — especially as building inhabitants may be on-site more infrequently. Plus, photosensor controls and automated dimming functions can detect ambient lighting conditions and regulate wattage accordingly to react to changing conditions without the need for manual adjustment.
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