Digital Systems Blog

Why Smart Buildings Need Smart Lighting Data

Smart lightingSmart buildings has been evolving rapidly in recent years. Sensors have become mainstream and integrated processes and systems are gaining traction, particularly with corporations that have large or complex commercial space footprints. Initially, energy efficiency was the driving force behind smart building technology and system adoption. Today however, smart buildings are focused on the interconnection of technologies and systems that make buildings intelligent and responsive to the needs of owners, operators and occupants.

Smart buildings drive efficiencies and improvements in space utilization, workforce productivity levels, occupant comfort and overall wellbeing, and customer experiences.

What is a Smart Building?

There are a number of definitions for ‘smart building’ currently touted to the commercial real estate market. At a minimum, smart buildings use automated processes to control the building’s operations including HVAC, lighting, security and other systems; they use sensors throughout the space to collect data that monitors operations; and the building systems and technologies facilitate better decision making. However, the greatest impact of a smart building is how well the various building systems can communicate and integrate with each other. It is how the use of data is aggregated, analyzed and applied. Tomorrow’s smart buildings will be dynamic, network connected, and software-driven--able to adapt and support the changing needs and requirements of the building itself and the owners, operators and occupants. 

What is Smart lighting?

LED technology has enabled lighting to become ‘smart’ and a part of the digital world. As low-voltage devices, LEDs are natural partners to sensors and digital networks. Smart lighting uses information from sensors on the smart lighting system network to adjust light automatically based on certain conditions such as occupancy or daylight availability. These sensors can be integrated within each light fixture creating a smart node on the lighting system network. Automatically adjusting light to the level needed or when there are occupants in a space, significantly saves on the energy used, aids in increasing productivity levels and contributes to the comfort and overall wellbeing of the workforce.

The Value of Smart Lighting Data

An intelligent lighting system is an ideal platform for collecting data about a space and how it is being used. Lights are ubiquitous throughout a building and have direct access to power. By integrating sensors in lighting fixtures, sensing becomes ubiquitous throughout the space and has direct access to power. This eliminates the concerns about space coverage and sensor battery life that other data acquisition solutions may have.

By integrating sensors in every fixture, you have access to reliable data about a space at a granular level. With this level of granularity, you are able to precisely implement and fine-tune flexible lighting control strategies such as daylight harvesting and task tuning to create the appropriate level of light for particular activities or uses of a given space.

However, the value of smart lighting goes far beyond illumination. An intelligent, sensor-laden lighting system network acts like a central nervous system of a building, continually collecting data about the space and how it is being used. The data can be used for many other smart building applications including space utilization and digital wayfinding.

Space Utilization Applications Using Smart Lighting Data

A modern, connected work environment is an asset that can increase productivity and help attract and retain top talent. There are many reasons why organizations need to continually optimize their space:

 — Rapid growth or cutbacks can change the dynamics of the workspace

 — Reorganization may require moving people around

 — Divestitures may result in vacant office space requiring a downsizing

 — Acquisitions can create the challenge of where to house a newly acquired work force

Workspace changes can be expensive. Smart decisions on space utilization are now made using workplace optimization software analytics fed by data gathered from advanced lighting systems.

Restacking - Restacking entails more than increasing or decreasing space. It involves a re-thinking of the workplace to create a more efficient, collaborative setting that reflects an organization’s objectives and workflows. According to our partner Rifiniti, some companies will move over 50% of their staff every year to continually optimize their space. They physically locate teams that work closely together near each other to increase efficiency and create more collaborative, open work space or informal space to increase discussion levels and support a team approach to problem-solving.

Increase or Reduce Square Footage - Using occupancy analytics, the amount of square footage you need is based on who actually uses the space, how they use it, and when they use it. This reduces unused space and the related costs, and enables planning for future space requirements based on historical usage and trends.

 — Provide hot desking for employees that come into the office sporadically. Employees choose their workspace when they arrive.

 — Use hoteling--reservation-based unassigned seating--for workers that travel frequently or are typically remote.

 — Encourage people to move around the workspace and decide where and how they work to maximize their productivity and comfort levels by not tethering them to a particular desk or office.

Conference Room Rationalization - Meeting space is at the heart of any organization. Whether they are large conference rooms or smaller huddle spaces, employees covet meeting space particularly in modern, open office environments. Analytics using smart lighting data help uncover conference room usage trends such as

 — the busiest times of day

 — most popular types of rooms

 — most common sizes of meetings

Once you understand how the space is currently used, you can balance supply and demand effectively and adjust it as demand changes. For example, splitting a 12-person conference room into two smaller conference rooms may better serve the needs of the organization based on actual occupancy usage of the space. Or, video conferencing capabilities and a white board may be essential for a certain number of 4-6 person conference rooms.

Digital Wayfinding Applications Using Smart Lighting Data

Many commercial buildings and campuses have become difficult to navigate because of growth, restructuring, constant employee moves and more. Digital wayfinding is a smart building application that leverages lighting system data and a mobile indoor navigation app to guide you to a meeting room, individual office/desk or other destination within the organization’s building(s) footprint. Whether you are a visitor or employee, it is particularly useful given how dynamic space has become.

Digital wayfinding is being used also to reinvent the customer experience.

For example, museums can guide visitors through exhibits and deliver a cohesive customer journey. And in hospitals, digital wayfinding can cut down the costs of staff interruptions when visitors are lost and seek directions.

To learn more about the sensors that make this all possible, download the datasheet below.

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Topics: Connected Lighting & IoT, Smart Building App, Sensors