As first-generation LEDs begin to be replaced, owners and operators of commercial and industrial facilities have a rare opportunity to future-proof the energy efficiency of their buildings by making sure the long-lived LED lighting systems installed today include networked lighting controls (NLCs). Research shows that ongoing energy savings from lighting can grow an average of 49% (nearly 70% in some building types) when LED installations include NLCs. Pair NLCs with HVAC systems and there’s potential to save 10% of an entire building’s energy use.
Despite these benefits, connected lighting comprises less than one percent of all luminaires in the U.S. The small- to medium-size building sector has been especially reluctant to embrace NLCs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that structures under 50,000 sq ft account for 90% of all U.S. commercial buildings, but two-thirds of them lack any lighting control strategies beyond an on-off switch.
The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) has been working over the past year on a new program designed to help smaller facilities tap into the energy saving and decarbonization potential of NLCs. As a non-profit committed to improving energy efficiency, lighting quality, and the human experience in the built environment, while driving decarbonization, the DLC is seeking to:
- Streamline the process of incentivizing, ordering, and installing small-scale NLC systems (primarily Bluetooth mesh based);
- Create a project installer report to be used by multiple stakeholders, including installers, building owners, utilities, and building occupants; and
- Improve project communication to reduce return site visits.
Envisioned as vital support for implementation of lighting control strategies in buildings under 50,000 sq ft served by the retrofit market, the new offering will include all the tools and information needed for energy efficiency programs to evaluate retrofit projects and for installers to order materials and install and program lighting control systems.
To ensure maximum usefulness for all stakeholders, the DLC is seeking lighting control projects to pilot the program and evaluate its ease of use and effectiveness. We’re studying this with a view toward improving the ease and profitability of installing NLCs. The goal is to increase incentives for networked lighting controls projects for commercial buildings of all sizes and to maximize the incentive for every fixture.