How Smart Lighting Influences Commercial Environments
Walk into Sydney CBD’S ANZ Tower and you’ll find smart lighting, an extensive use of LEDs, and daylight streaming through the iconic roof. It’s a mySmart solution indicative of the way smart lighting in commercial environments is heading, powered by a tri-generation power system.
Employees want effective lighting control in sustainable workplaces. Employers want employee productivity and energy cost savings. Owners and facility managers want reliable data analytics on usage and status, preferably with self-diagnostic capabilities. We’ll focus on these trends in smart lighting below.
But first, let’s rewind for a moment to define ‘smart lighting’. For a luminaire (a light fixture or fitting) to be ‘smart’, the sensor inside must send and receive data from a router hub or directly to a wireless network. This allows the luminaire to communicate its status and receive commands on how to adapt to the changing conditions around it, whether that be movement detection, light level sensing or simply the time of day.
By installing an inter-luminaire network, data can flow between luminaires, sensors, external control panels and central management systems, as required. In this way, specific sensors collect data as a whole for use in other systems if integrated effectively.
However, having smart luminaires is not enough; it’s about design and integration too. When mySmart provided an intelligent lighting solution for ANZ Tower, we were tasked with creating a solution flexible for open-plan configurations. We also needed to meet a key expectation – maximising efficiency to reduce energy consumption. Luckily, installing smart lighting can be one of the easiest retrofit modifications you can make to a commercial space, depending on the scope. The energy savings alone – potentially up to 80% – mean the change is well worth the investment.
Gone are the days when corporate clients or retail customers had to endure the buzzing of fluorescent lighting or its headache-inducing flicker. In terms of employee wellbeing and productivity, it’s not just about the side effects of old-style lighting. Light levels continuously affect our mood and energy levels. Not surprising, given that the brain receives 80% of sensory information from our eyes.
It’s well-known that poorly lit offices with no access to daylight result in low productivity. Fortunately, light technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Examples of developing technology include circadian lighting which simulates human circadian rhythms. Through regulating melatonin production, circadian lighting ensures that workers stay alert despite being in an indoors environment for hours and supports healthy sleep patterns.
In 2018, researchers from Australia’s Monash University released ALFA (Adaptive Lighting for Alertness) – circadian lighting design software. The program’s creators describe ALFA as ‘a new software that lets architects, lighting designers, and health professionals predict and control non-visual effects that compromise sleep quality, performance, and long-term health, in order to create environments that are safer, healthier, and more productive.’
Other technology designed to sustain a natural circadian rhythm include the virtual sky developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. The product comprises a ceiling of 34,560 LEDs that mimics working outdoors on a cloudy day. In tests, subjects found the dynamic, fluctuating virtual sky promoted concentration and heightened alertness.
Smart lighting can combine with other sensor-activated services to enhance employee comfort, such as temperature and air flow. An integrated system can make your workplace more efficient with less downtime and greater productivity. Whether you make a few small changes or a complete overhaul, rethinking your lighting can go a long way to boosting your workers’ morale.
Whether personal or industry-focused, the level of control that smart lighting provides is applicable to a range of uses regardless of scale. In retail lighting studies, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences found areas of lighting contrast drew people’s gaze more consistently than brightly lit areas. Blue lighting attracted the most visual interest, though ‘warm’ lighting caused shoppers to linger. Based on these findings, users could program smart lighting to highlight contrasting display areas at varying times of day, or to activate certain colours and intensities when customers stand in specific areas.
Lighting control can be accessed via a central hub, tablet-based app, or perhaps a voice-activated device on an employee’s desk. Whether it’s brightening or dimming the hotel lobby to lift or calm guests, highlighting specific products in a department store to boost sales, or giving the communal work lounge a warm ambience – businesses can customise their lighting to whatever purpose is required.
Sustainability and Energy Cost Savings
In our era of climate change, employees (especially millennials) look to work for environmentally responsible companies. Using energy-efficient lighting raises a company’s sustainability rating and reflects well on your brand. For example, mySmart’s sensor-based lighting solution contributed to ANZ Tower’s 6 Star Green Star rating, awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia.
Sensors aside, the rise in LED technology has transformed energy bills in the commercial lighting sector. Add reactive lighting into the mix and the energy savings extend further, providing responsive systems that switch off when not required. For owners and facility managers, optimising your assets will always mean effective cost reduction. You can then pass these savings on to occupants, whether through rent reduction or user pays billing.
Some Australian state governments offer financial incentives through energy savings schemes, making the shift even more appealing. To ensure you’re making the most of your assets, it’s worth getting an audit of your existing lighting before you switch to energy-efficient lighting. As part of the design process, mySmart will assess your lighting and make recommendations according to your current assets, requirements and budget.
Wherever you install smart lighting, occupancy sensors can collect and monitor data from various types of assets. Unlike HVAC which is generally centrally controlled, smart lighting is distributed throughout your commercial spaces. After all, you’ll find lighting virtually everywhere your business has activity. Collecting data from all your established assets means you are ‘Sweating the Assets’ you have to create more value across the building.
If you’re investing in smart lighting, you’ll want proof that your savings are viable. The diagnostic report provided by your business management system is integral to monitoring energy costs. For owners and facility managers, implementing the report’s recommendations will assist you in streamlining services and reducing energy and maintenance bills. You can then make data-driven decisions to customise your occupants/employees’ environment.
Make The Switch
Commercial lighting practices are constantly changing, and property owners and employers need to ensure they keep up with trends to attract and retain tenants and employees. Whether you’re looking to make a few small changes or a complete overhaul, switching to smart lighting can raise your building’s appeal, boost your workers’ morale, or cut those ever-increasing energy costs.
mySmart has been providing smart lighting solutions for over 18 years, including the ANZ Tower (Sydney), Grand Hyatt (Melbourne), 240 St Georges Terrace (Perth) and other iconic commercial buildings. We’re an Australian company at the forefront of creating intelligent environments.
Contact us to identify how our solutions can effect positive change for your needs – it’s what we’re good at.