For various reasons, from high initial costs to inadequate training and unfamiliarity with the technology, energy saving networked lighting controls (NLC) have yet to catch on in a significant way. In fact, the Department of Energy reports that less than one percent of all commercial luminaires in the US are equipped with NLCs. Brainstorming and planning ways to reverse that trend comprised the agenda of the DesignLights Consortium’s (DLC) 2023 Controls Summit in September. The meeting drew nearly 100 lighting manufacturers, installers, utilities, and other stakeholders to Detroit, Michigan, a city that has committed to cut carbon emissions in its built environment in half by 2030.
Aligned with its Unlocking the Potential of Networked Lighting Controls theme, the September meeting focused on how to effectively and quickly eliminate barriers to wider adoption of lighting controls. There was considerable consensus among participants that the key to success is better awareness of the technology’s benefits, ranging from efficiency and cost savings to decarbonization. Discussions centered on the fact that, with first-generation LEDs now being replaced, every lighting retrofit installed without controls is a missed opportunity to decarbonize - for the entire life of the new fixtures (Check out the DLC’s August webinar for the latest research on ways to capture these savings.)
Summit topics included:
- Barriers to NLC and HVAC integration - Recent research shows that integration can save up to 30% of a building’s total energy consumption by signaling the HVAC system to reduce energy use in unoccupied spaces.
- NLCs for small buildings – There’s huge untapped potential for savings in the 94% of US commercial buildings that are under 50,000 sq ft, and customer-friendly NLC programs (possibly with pre-packaged systems) could help realize it.
- Training, education, and awareness of NLCs – Utilities need to develop NLC incentive measures and eliminate incentives for uncontrolled lighting. Training and broader awareness of NLC technology among trade allies is another big need.
(Stuart Berjansky is Technical Director at the DesignLights Consortium.)