Illuminart Looks at Changes to Lighting Controls

Darko Banfic, IES, LC
Sep 26, 2017 10:40:51 AM

Darko Banfic headshort.jpg

Trend of Smart Controls to Continue, with Potential Higher Costs to Owners

In recent years, energy-reducing codes have played a major role in increasing the design and construction challenges faced by the owners and by the design community. Changes from the 2007 to the 2010 version of ASHRAE 90.1, the new basis for LEED v4, further restrict the lighting energy consumption by two methods: (1) the installed watts per square foot and (2) by kilowatt hours (kWh) used, which typically include the control systems for dimming and turning off the lights.

Some of the lower watts per square foot lighting products that meet the new code changes in LEED v4 are currently being developed and are more difficult to find and therefore more expensive. This has led to increased product costs for the owner and construction managers. Consequently, lighting designers are often asked to decrease the amount of products that they plan to implement. Such decisions can sometimes lead to a decrease in the quality of lighting. For instance, when lighting design teams are asked to use fewer lights in order to save costs on the projects, the products are typically spaced farther apart and lumens per fixture are increased order to make up for the decrease in product quantity. This can lead to undesirable or improper illumination for the intended environment that is often brighter than it should be and lacking in illuminated uniformity.

In the past, lighting control system requirements have been difficult to navigate and maintain for the end-user. In other words, the smarter the systems become, the more devices are required throughout the facility. In order to simplify the end-users controls, manufacturers have started to integrate technologies that make the controls smarter by performing functions automatically without requiring the assistance of the end-users. This has led to the need for additional hardware including software, programming, commissioning services, etc., all of which come at a price to the owner. On a positive note, much of this new technology has become very reliable, but like with any control system, one should expect the occasional component failure and consequential need for added maintenance.

The bottom line with the lighting changes in LEED v4 is that the design team should be able to predict an approximate probable ROI (Return On Investment) which would satisfy a need for new code changes, and provide a worthy investment for the occupants, and our environment.

To contact architectural lighting designer Darko Banfic, LC, IES of Illuminart, email him at

To learn more about the LEED v4 impact on lighting controls, check out this article in Consulting-Specifying Engineer

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