Jun 9, 2020

Applications that move past the ‘101 Level’ go to the head of the class

By Paul Tarricone

For this look at connected lighting projects, LD+A went in search of aspirational case studies. Our criteria: to be truly “smart,” connected lighting needs to go beyond the energy-use dashboard. Room occupancy data, employee satisfaction and productivity, and our old, elusive friend “quality” are also signs of lighting intelligence. Here are three case studies where lighting systems show off their smarts.

Lexus of Glendale
What started as a way to track energy use for Title 24 compliance at Lexus of Glendale in California blossomed into a connected lighting system aimed at improving the customer experience and employee satisfaction.

The automotive dealer used the Luxon connected light management platform from Nedap. All lights at the dealership are now connected, enabling management to wirelessly control the lights from anywhere. “There’s a network that runs through the dealership. I’m able to see which lights are on, when they’re on, what percentage they’re on,” says Service Director Roy Tunno. “It’s very simple. If I happen to have a light that isn’t working, I get a message. I can control lights in the showroom from my office and I can control the outdoor lights from my home.”

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Tunno adds that a major cost savings “was on our roof,” where inventoried cars are parked. “Prior to [this] system we had very large, very high-wattage [fixtures] that were on all the time. The new system keeps the lights at a minimal amount of usage when there’s no movement. They run about 10% in the evenings.” If someone were to go up to the roof, lights would activate based on that person’s movement and location, but max out at 80% output.

Meanwhile, prospective buyers and dealership staff benefit from better lighting quality. “We can control the ambiance. We can keep the lighting at a calm level when necessary or brighten up [the showroom] when we need to,” says Tunno. In regards to health and safety of employees, the new lighting system also has a positive impact: “In our shop we have noticed that our technicians are able to repair cars without the assistance of other types of lighting.”

Telsmith, Inc.
A simple retrofit would have been perfectly acceptable, but a Wisconsin-based manufacturing company opted to go big and equip their new lighting with sensors to track energy performance and improve quality both on the plant floor and in their offices.

Telsmith, Inc—a maker of crushing and vibrating equipment, and modular and portable plants serving the mining industry—wanted to explore ways to improve operating efficiency and capitalize on rebates at its corporate headquarters in Mequon, WI. An energy audit assessed the current fluorescent troffers in the offices and high-pressure sodium high bay fixtures in the manufacturing plant. Rather than opt for LED retrofit lamp kits, Telsmith chose a distributed network of smart wireless LED lighting fixtures (Eaton’s LumaWatt Pro system) with integrated sensing and beacon technology that captures real-time data. Data displayed on dashboards allows Telsmith to see real-time energy usage, project energy savings and view system health reports to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the total lighting system performance.

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To kick off the project, Telsmith management visited a nearby business with a similar LED installation, and later installed a mock-up of six LED highbay luminaires (5000K) in its manufacturing plant, plus four LED recessed ambient fixtures (3500K and 4000K) in its offices. The new lighting was ultimately installed in the manufacturing plant, private and open offices, conference rooms and in the parking lot.

Completed in January 2018, the one-for-one replacement has resulted in an estimated yearly maintenance savings of $18,000. The local utility rebates for the LED lighting and advanced network controls produced a return on investment of less than two years. Using the monitoring and verification capabilities of the lighting network, Telsmith also qualified for another pilot program when both “before” and “after” energy data is submitted.

Color rendering proved to be a major benefit in terms of manufacturing. “One of the most dramatic improvements has been the light quality in the manufacturing paint booth,” says Nick Lollino, a Telsmith manufacturing engineer. “The LED lighting allows the workers to see the true colors of the paint being applied, as the previous older lighting didn’t portray the true colors during application.”

Staff in open and private offices have also gained individual control of their lighting. “It’s been a dramatic change for our employees to adjust from the existing lighting to the increased light output,” says Lollino, “but the ability to adjust the lighting to their personal needs has been important and successful for our employees.”

Comfy Headquarters

Sensor-equipped fixtures are integrated with the client’s own workplace app to provide occupancy and energy-use data.
Sensor-equipped fixtures are integrated with the client’s own workplace app to provide occupancy and energy-use data.
When you’re a tech firm specializing in creating more user-friendly workplaces you better lead by example—and that includes how you manage your own office lighting. The Oakland-based company Comfy is a provider of connected technology for the commercial real estate market, with a focus on harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) for the workplace. Its smartphone app empowers employees to take more control of their office experience—from temperature to room booking to lighting. When the company set about renovating a roughly 20,000-sq ft historic building for its new headquarters, it wanted a space that reflected this vision.

Comfy’s new space is spread out over two floors and is designed to be open, collaborative and state-of-the-art. The lighting goal was to use sensor-equipped LED luminaires to not only measure energy use but provide insight on space utilization. To complement the substantial amount of natural light the space receives, 70 GE luminaires of varying lengths were installed in a hanging pendant configuration, cutting lines of light throughout the office space and providing uniform illumination. An additional GE “blade style” ultrathin luminaire installed in Comfy’s main, all glass conference room above a heavy wood table complements the visual appeal of the room. Wall washers were added throughout the building for strong accent lighting.

Daintree wireless lighting controls and sensors were installed, with lights divided into control zones to provide light-dimming and on/off scheduling functionality. These systems were paired with GE’s ControlScope Manager software and Current’s Intelligent Environments Platform to create a digital backbone for data collection throughout the office. An on-premises server manages these systems, and the Comfy application was integrated with the GE software platform via BACnet protocol.

Aside from the energy savings provided by the LED luminaires, the smart lighting is able to detect true occupancy which Comfy can use to optimize space utilization. The Comfy app also allows employees to have more control over their lighting, enabling them to create a personalized work environment by adjusting light levels to meet their needs.


Paul Tarricone

Paul Tarricone

Paul Tarricone has more 25 years of experience in association and business-to-business publishing, specializing in the engineering, design, construction and facilities management markets. Mr. Tarricone currently serves as Editor and Publisher of Lighting Design + Application,... More info »