Building systems set to hand over the keys to cubicle
By Jeff Harris, NEEA
Jeff Harris isdirector of emerging technology at NEEA. He was recently recognized for his contributions to energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. For more information, please visit neea.org.
Most buildings are built for people and their activities. Yet to this day we still design and build spaces where the control over lighting and comfort systems is in the hands of some impersonal centralized control system that operates the whole building as if every floor, every cubicle is the same.
It’s no surprise that comfort complaints — too hot or too cold, too much glare — remain the No.1 complaint with tenants. What if we could design and build systems that give individuals direct control over the temperature, ventilation and light in their workspace? Kind of like the experience we all have every time we get in our cars? How is it that my car is smarter, more adaptable to my individual comfort needs than my building? Probably an unanswerable question, however, recently we’ve begun to get a glimpse into the answer to the question “what if personal control was available?”
New luminaire-level lighting control technology recently tested by NEEA and its partners provides a glimpse at what “turning over the keys to the occupants” might look like. This emerging technology allows each individual lighting fixture in a commercial building to individually sense its surroundings and nearby occupants. This allows it to decide whether it needs to turn itself on, at what level, and for how long. Talk about smart. And before we give users “the keys,” this system has proven that it can save 40 percent to 50 percent out-of-the-box: no programming required. It’s tailor-made for retrofit projects — which should pique the interest of building owners.
This technology also has the ability to self-meter its own power consumption and can be installed without turning the control features on – enabling it to be self-baselining. By doing so, it produces current usage patterns and then automatically measures accrued savings. This paves the way for “pay for performance” energy savings transactions; creating new ways for utilities and customers to engage on efficiency.
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