For the past several years, building owners and managers who have converted to using LED lights have experienced the first wave of benefits provided by LED Lighting – energy savings. A well designed LED retrofit or tenant improvement project can cut energy consumption by 50% or more, reducing operating costs and improving net operating income.
The transformation from fluorescent or HID lighting to LED lighting can be viewed as a shift from analog to digital technology. The last significant device that shifted from analog to digital technology was the cell phone. Remember life before smartphones? Just 10 years ago, few of us imagined the breadth of applications that smartphones provide us daily. Today, few of us can imagine the breadth of applications that digital light fixtures will provide us in commercial buildings.
The second wave of benefits from LED lighting is approaching. This new technology, known as “Connected Lighting,” promises to provide building owners and managers the capability of controlling and tracking data, analytics, security, ambiance, and energy savings in their buildings.
Connected Lighting is a technology in which lighting fixtures are connected to an intelligence system that can communicate with other smart devices within a building, including smartphones and intelligent sensory devices. Connected Lighting holds the promise of truly smart buildings, and with that, an array of applications that will change the way we work and the way we operate and manage a building.
At Monterey Lighting Solutions, we are already seeing the first set of applications emerge based upon connected lighting. These include:
- Space Planning: Utilizing smart Bluetooth beacons embedded in the light fixtures, the light fixtures can monitor and track the movement of people throughout a building. Analytics are then applied to determine how often rooms are used, the average number of occupants in a space and the length of time they are there. This information is very useful for corporate real estate executives for planning purposes, and also for building owners to understand which tenants may need more or less space.
- Space Utilization – Again, using smart beacons within the light fixtures, real time information can be provided to users to determine open conference rooms or work spaces. The real time information is key because traditional room scheduling applications cannot determine when a meeting is cancelled, ends early or runs late.
- Security – Geo-fencing systems can be created to identify when someone enters an area where they should not be. Because light fixtures are everywhere, there is an increased ability to monitor secure areas above and beyond what security cameras may provide.
- Safety – In the event of an emergency, a connected lighting system can provide precise location information for every occupant in a building. The system can also be used to push alerts or instructions and provide turn-by-turn guidance (indoor GPS) for safe exit.
- Occupant Comfort – A smart connected lighting system can understand individual user preferences for workspace, light levels and temperature settings. In a collaborative work environment, the system can identify which of their preferred workspaces is open. Once they arrive, light levels and temperature can automatically be adjusted to their preferred levels.
The second wave of LED technology, Connected Lighting, is on the horizon and coming towards us quickly. At Monterey Lighting Solutions, we encourage our customers to begin to look beyond energy savings or code compliance when upgrading their existing lighting to LED. This means not just when retrofitting a space, but also when performing tenant improvements. Many products on the market today already include the advanced communication technology that is required for Connected Lighting. The cost differential is minimal. The LED fixtures that you install in your building are likely to be there for 10 or more years. We believe our clients are well advised to understand the next wave of technology, and wherever possible, lay the proper technology foundation for advanced smart building applications.