After a great response to last month’s Smart Buildings Magazine vox pop, this month’s question is:

What role will lighting play in the future of smart buildings?

Thanks for all the responses, it’s much appreciated and if you would like to be added to the panel, please drop me an email and I will send you next month’s question.

We’ll also be posting the story on LinkedIn, so if you want to add to the debate, please feel free to do so.

“Lighting can play an integral role in the development of smart buildings due to its existing control capabilities as well as its simplicity to install and use. An important feature of modern lighting products is that innovative control technology can actually be integrated into a single luminaire to provide a lighting control system in its own right. They have the ability to adjust individual light levels based on the occupancy and ambient light in the vicinity of each luminaire. This means they are intelligent control solutions right from the point of manufacture and help create smart buildings immediately after installation.

“By utilising integrated sensors and controls, no central controls hardware and no room based sensors need to be wired in allowing for a speedy installation; simply connect Live, Earth and Neutral and that is it. Although this is clever, the system does not stop there. With Infrared communication integrated into each luminaire, the luminaires communicate with each other automatically, sharing information about occupancy and light levels from neighbouring luminaires. Using wireless communication there is now no need for additional controls cabling. The microprocessor in each luminaire sensor automatically detect which luminaires they are next to and commission themselves, communicating with neighbouring products so that lighting levels seamlessly rise and fall with people as they move through the space taking ambient light levels into account. And if the use of the space changes, the system automatically adjusts without need for re-commissioning.

“Users can even fine tune the lighting control settings of each individual luminaires through mobile apps meaning users can interact with the luminaires without having to run any new cables and place exactly where needed including on glass partitions. Moving forward, these lighting control solutions also have the ability to collect valuable data about the building enabling end users to make well-informed decisions about its operation and the comfort of occupants.
“With an integrated network spanning an entire building, lighting has a major advantage over other controls technology. Its simple installation and commissioning as well as its ease of use, make lighting a logical choice as the backbone of a smart building.”

David Neale, marketing manager, Sylvania UK

“Lighting has always been an integral part of smart buildings. It’s central to building management and occupant engagement, and boosts occupant comfort, experience and productivity.

"There are a range of real operational benefits that are derived from lighting. For example, lighting and building management systems are used as part of energy management, safety, security and occupant satisfaction outcomes.

“Additionally, lighting systems are beginning to power additional sensors for data analytics around occupancy, ambient light and location. In this context, smart buildings can provide valuable, actionable insight for facility managers and space planners.”

Alastair Reynolds, managing director UK & Nordics at Honeywell Building Solutions

“Control of the electrical infrastructure within commercial buildings is rapidly shifting from stand alone systems to connected digital infrastructures.

"As lighting represents the highest density of connected edge devices in these Smart Buildings, the control ecosystem built around it will be critical to delivering value - from net zero to enhanced worked productivity.”

Andrew Wale, Legrand’s Building Control Systems Division

“Lighting fixtures have the potential to be the wireless connectivity backbone of any building so enabling them to become smart through the distribution of sensors and controllers.

The height and power of lighting are perfect for a mesh type radio network and can reach every corner from the basement to the plant room and everything in between.”

Gary Atkinson - CEO of enLight

“For some time now, we have seen the lighting element of the Smart Building become increasingly important. Previously, we used to answer practical questions such as:

  • Is POE based lighting worth the additional cost?
  • Should I have multi colour temperature white LED’s?
  • Should I include LiFi or a sensor network with the lighting system?
  • Is my maintenance cost reduced with smart lighting and by how much?

"Whilst these questions are still a concern of Smart Lighting, one of the overall considerations of a Smart Building is the element of staff wellbeing, and lighting has a significant part to play in providing this. The provision of artificial circadian human-centric lighting has been proven to increase productivity, whilst the addition of sensors to the system improves efficiency and allows flexibility to assess and meet these demands.

"In short, lighting already does, and will continue to play an increasingly important role in the Smart Building environment, providing it is designed to meet specific requirements at the early consulting stage, and is deployed effectively to meet these demands.”

John Dente – technical director, Redstone

“Lighting will remain at the very heart of smart networking solutions for buildings and homes. This is because smart lighting not only helps to save energy and cut costs, but also increases the convenience for users, as well as the security.

“However, it is crucial that operators and users are not restricted to products from a single manufacturer. Otherwise, the entire system might need to be replaced if the manufacturer of choice doesn’t keep up with the times - or worse: goes into administration.

“For a future-proof system, open standards and solutions are required which allow the use of devices and products across manufacturers. Most users will want to control not only the lighting of their property, but also the heating system, air conditioning, security cameras and even smoke detectors via one smart solution. Closed systems will soon be a thing of the past.”

Ulrich Grote, chairman of the ULE Alliance

“Lighting will most definitely continue to play a significant role in Smart Buildings with security, safety, energy, wellbeing and streamlined maintenance all being key functions and features.

"Integration with other systems to seamlessly create the required environment for the task with minimal human input will also continue to be a theme and all possible, as data can be shared between platforms (BMS, Access Systems, Security).

"External conditions and levels of occupancy will all be automatically factored in to create the optimum conditions throughout a building. Part of the trick might be to make and keep lighting smart but still always allowing the user to ultimately take ‘some’ control – with a potential luddite lurking in some of us, this is still a fundamental human need even if the systems do become truly smart and the human input is rarely, if ever used.”

Jon Belfield, president, BCIA

“Lighting control should be one of the fundamentals of any new or refurbished smart building. One of the main elements is good quality LED lighting.

One of the best solution is Tuneable White light, which can mimic changing natural light and thus create a heathy and productive environment.

The lighting needs to be properly controlled with good quality equipment. Presence detectors give that kind of control and they can be part of a KNX or DALI system.”

Stephen Payne – systems sales manager B.E.G. U.K. Ltd and vice president of UK KNX Association.

“We take electric lighting for granted – it’s a simple click of a switch! But that’s no longer enough for modern consumers, who have a stronger appetite for smart control and connectivity. Greater demand for optimizing natural light inside buildings will also stimulate growth in automated light control.

“Today, sophisticated energy saving presence controlled light and constant control systems are already mainstream and are often a key part of national energy conservation legislation. “Tomorrow, we will see this technology evolve, so that artificial light systems follow the body’s circadian rhythm to support the natural day and night cycles of human beings, promoting concentration and relaxation.

Known as human centric lighting, these systems will lead to the proliferation of LED colour-controlled lighting, which can artificially simulate natural illumination and the resultant positive biological effects. It will no longer be about turning on a light, but more about addressing the demands of our digitally enhanced lifestyles, supporting our general wellbeing and environmental consciousness.”

Bernhard Doerstel, senior vice president, ABB Building Automation

“We are seeing lighting systems being used as a building wide network piggy back for the connection of other services such as mesh network hubs and location-based-service sensors.”

Stephen Wreford, CTO, Helping Buildings Think

“The ultimate role of lighting in smart buildings is still unknown. What we do know is that lighting as a basic, primary function will become less important, as its role in facilitating connectivity and Big Data becomes more significant in homes, buildings and smart cities.

“Lighting is the ideal orchestrator of smart technology; it is fixed, has a constant power source and can easily be installed without disruption to building occupants. It is the single most convenient and cost effective fixture within a property, it has a location and will become the data hub through which a smart building project can be realised. Whilst lighting itself will become more technologically advanced, the software and services used to store, process and analyse the sensor data collected, will transform what a smart building can be today and in the future.

“As demand for smart devices increases, including lighting, the cost base will fall and the market will reach a tipping point where wholesale adoption takes place. At this juncture, the promise of a new industrial revolution will really take place.”

Christian Schraft, Global CEO, Sylvania

Lighting is going to play a key role in the development of smart buildings and we are already seeing its impressive capabilities.

With lighting installed across the entire premises, it means that there is an existing infrastructure that can be utilised to ease the burden of installation. Sensors can be installed alongside luminaries or in some cases in-built during the manufacturing process to create a sensory network. This allows us to collect data from across a whole building and not only adapt building services but also look at better space utilisation and energy consumption by monitoring the number of occupants. This new type of data collection and analysis gives us far greater insight into the operation of a commercial building and it can all be simply accessed through the existing or new lighting scheme.

However, it’s not just about the lit effect that makes a smart building, it’s about the impact it can have on the occupants. Studies show that lighting quality directly affects employee productivity, academic performance and general wellbeing. In many offices and schools, there is not enough daylight so artificial light sources are used instead. This type of light can often fail to reflect the changes in natural light that take place through the course of a day. Human centric lighting solutions change the colour and intensity of the light, which can have a significant impact on productivity and wellbeing. The effects of human centric lighting can also bring a host of additional workplace benefits, including reduced fatigue levels, and a reduction in sick days taken by staff and students.

Intelligent lighting holds the key to creating smart buildings, whether that’s improving its operation, reducing energy usage or increasing wellbeing for occupants. Its future is bright!

Charles Pelletier, Product Management Director at Distech Controls