Thanks to advances in IoT system integration and LED technology, lighting control is now about far more than saving energy. It’s about creating the right environment for people wherever they are – in offices, hotels, restaurants, or retail stores.
For more than 50 years, Lutron Electronics has been a leader in the lighting control industry. In fact, company founder Joel Spira invented the modern electronic dimmer in 1961. Since then, the company has expanded the use of lighting controls to address a variety of market challenges. Its controls can be found in buildings all over the world, including the Empire State Building, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Bilbao’s Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum.
To find out more about the industry’s latest trends, ENGIE Insight’s Coast to Coast Sustainability Tour team visited the company’s experience center in Washington, D.C. We met with Matt Ochs, Lutron’s Director of Product Management, who told us about how lighting control can contribute to brighter, more productive spaces.
Q. Today, many businesses have taken advantage of ‘low-hanging fruit’ when it comes to LED retrofits and smart thermostats. What do you see as the next frontier in building technology, and what types of benefits will that bring?
A. It’s important to keep in mind that all buildings need lighting, and all businesses benefit from the opportunity to create the right environment for their clientele. Flexible, scalable smart lighting control systems are key to meeting that goal.
Smart LED lighting and control solutions help ensure that your business is taking advantage of connected systems and the Internet of Things to effectively collect and aggregate system data — delivering a high-performance, customizable environment that uses less energy and offers more flexibility than other lighting options. The best lighting control system is the one that most effectively participates in the connected building ecosystem.
Q. Do you have any specific customer examples?
A. Absolutely. Moberly Motors – a car dealership in central Missouri — used LED lighting and controls to make new cars in the showroom shine, as the owner says, “like fine jewelry.”
Lighting that could be fine-tuned was essential for adjusting lighting levels in their showroom – brighter during the day and then lower light levels at night, when many shoppers like to get their first glimpse of a new car. This keeps the emphasis on the cars 24/7, helps attract and retain customers – and it also decreases energy use without compromising performance.
This same philosophy can be used to customize lighting levels and schedules in virtually any business.
Q. Can you talk about how lighting control contributes to a more human centric lighting experience in retail and hospitality environments?
A. More people are paying attention to how lighting contributes to well-being. Lighting and thermal conditions are specifically identified as main contributing factors in more desirable, human-centric spaces. More satisfied employees help create a more productive, successful business.
Lutron technology supports that aim. It’s capable of adjusting both intensity and color of lighting. Moreover, automated shading and daylight control help reduce heat gain, eliminate glare, and improve comfort and productivity. That’s all very good news for business owners and their customers.
In terms of the retail customer, lighting is critical for product merchandising and customer experience. Consider dressing rooms in a clothing store, for example. Personal lighting control, or white tuning controls, can provide a light most flattering to the customer, improving their shopping experience.
Or in casual dining establishments, lighting can be adjusted automatically throughout the day to ensure food and table settings are most appealing to the customer.
Combined with automated shading solutions, a total light management system helps reduce glare, improve comfort and save energy.
Q. There is so much to consider when selecting building controls. What advice would you give to companies with multiple sites across in diverse geographies?
A. In many ways, you want to consider the same things for multiple locations as you do for any individual space. A good place to start is new versus retrofit. Wireless is the preferred solution for retrofit.
Q. What other features should a business owner look for?
A. Look for a solution that is flexible enough to meet a variety of needs — older or historic buildings, new buildings, future buildings, garages, and even exterior spaces. You also want a solution that will grow with you and can be easily updated and scaled. This will ultimately save time and help future-proof the system.
Ideally, the data and management platform you use will provide comprehensive, actionable data accessible from a simple-to-use, intuitive graphic user interface.
While it may make sense to access data on a PC or laptop computer, your facilities team may also need the freedom to monitor, manage, and adjust system settings from anywhere in the space, – or even offsite – from a tablet or other smart device. Make sure your control solution offers these capabilities.
Q. Any final words of advice?
A. With IoT and the tunable capabilities of LEDs, lighting control can contribute a great deal to well-being and personal satisfaction – as well as improved energy efficiency and money savings. All of these points create an overall better experience for your customers, your guests, and your employees.