Taking control… something we all strive for but find elusive in everyday life. We find ourselves consumed with everything from trying to control what children are exposed to on TV to controlling our emotions in traffic. And our efforts to manage spending on health, entertainment, food, education and the growing cost of energy are a steady struggle.
This quest for control leads us to selfhelp books, online research, friendly advice or hiring professionals, but results are often subtle at best and payback unreasonable.
One area, however, where we are seeing tangible results and return is intallation of energy- efficient lighting systems. In commercial and residential facilities across Michigan, upgrades to these systems are helping us take control.
Paying the utility bill each month reminds us of the increasing budget dollars spent on gas and electric power. Our energy costs in Michigan continue to increase, with no relief in sight. Motel 6 night want to think twice before they “leave the light on” much longer. In a typical commerical office building, for example, 40-50 precent of electrical costs come directly from lighting and an estamated 80 perecent of that lighting is uncontrolled, meaning the lights may be on when the space is not occupied. Likewise, in most faclities, lights are on even if there is sufficient sunlight streaming into the space from windows.
Here in Southeast Michigan, many facilities have taken control of their lighting, but for every square foot that has been upgraded, there are at least 100 that have not. A good example of one large user of energy that is taking control is Utica Schools, the second largest public school system in Michigan, which has funded a system-wide program to install lighting controls.
“The use of occupancy sensors and simple, intelligent control devices in each room allows us to incorporate automated lighting and HVAC control, emergncy lighting testing and evenroom usage reporting,” says Rich Barcci, senior vice president at Integrated Design Solutions in Troy, MIchigan, the engineer of the Utica system. “These controls can save Utica Schools as much as 20-30 percent on its energycosts just from the unnecessary lighting usage each year and with the added benefit of nighttime security. The software allows the sensors to turn the lights on when occupancy is detected to deter intrusions.”
Examples of decision makers taking control include municipal agencies like the City of Taylor, Michigan. In 2009, the city installed occupancy sensors thoughout its office with a payback expected in less than two years. Commercial office space is another prime target. Besides retrofitting to more efficient fixtures, lighting circuits can be wired back to low-voltage relays and an astronomical time clock programmed to control the lights depending on daily schedules throughout the building. Some facilities are also starting to measure the quantity of daylight (referred to as “daylight harvesting”) and turn off or dim lighting, depending on input form sensors inside the room. Through the use of an intelligent circuit board inside the relay panel, the owner can monitor annual cost savings and then budget energy expenses.
The reality today is that all new construction projects are requied by various building codes to have some form of lighting control and efficient lighting fixtures. But the thousands of feet of existing space are ripe for energy control equipment. Lighting controls may not be as flashy as wind or solar power alternatives, but they are a proven, cost-effective technology that allows us to take control of our otherwise out-of-control lives and expenses.
Jeff Chaney is president of Resource Lighting in Berkley, Michigan. He is a 25 year veteran of the lighting industry, including past positions as brand and manager for Cooper Lighting. email@example.com
Source: Automation Alley