March 2009
Column -

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BAS and Advanced, Integrated Lighting Control

New technologies including the use of wireless communications, networking and open standards are making the deployment of advanced lighting control practical in both new and existing building projects.

 Paul Ehrlich & Ira Goldschmidt
Building Intelligence Group

As published

March Issue - Column 

At this year's AHR show in Chicago we had the opportunity to conduct a full day seminar on Advanced Integrated Lighting Control. While this is the fourth year that we have held an educational seminar at this event it is the first time that we have focused exclusively on lighting control. So why would we want to talk about lighting control at an Air Conditioning conference? The answer was provided many times over by the industry leaders who presented. Here are some interesting facts:

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• Buildings are the largest single consumers of energy in North America accounting for almost 40% of the total energy usage and this is fairly evenly split between residential and commercial buildings.
• Within buildings, HVAC accounts for uses approximately 40% of the energy while lighting is a close second using 28%.
• Lighting contributes to the cooling load of the building, so lowering lighting energy use results in a reduction of cooling energy use.
• New codes and standards now have requirements for some form of lighting control.
• Like HVAC, lighting has a significant impact on occupant comfort and productivity.

The connection to both energy usage and comfort would appear to make lighting control a natural extension of BAS. However it isn’t that easy. Lighting control is complicated since it is multi-disciplinary. Lighting design may be done by an interior designer or specialized lighting designer, while power, circuiting, and switching typically falls to the electrical engineer with installation and checkout being done by the electrical contractor. Lighting control tends to follow these same paths with the design and installation falling into the electrical scope of work.

Reliable Controls Ideally the lighting control system would still be able to be designed and delivered as part of the electrical system, but could be readily integrated to the BAS. Systems are now available that offer the ability to integrate using a variety of open protocols including XML, BACnet, Modbus and LonTalk. Designing a system to be integrated requires careful coordination between the BAS / Integration design and the lighting control design. This coordination extends through installation, commissioning and operations. Some of the common functions of an integrated lighting control system include:

• Coordinated scheduling of lights and HVAC loads. While this seems simplistic it has a giant potential for energy savings.
• Control and monitoring of advanced lighting control functions such as daylight harvesting. The ability to take advantage of natural light from windows and skylights has a tremendous potential to both save energy and improve occupant comfort. Monitoring this through the BAS allows for improved tuning to get the most out of this often under utilized application.
• Lighting control provides for effective and inexpensive occupancy sensing. Information on occupancy from the lighting system can be readily used for scheduling and control in the BAS.
• For projects that are enrolled in a demand response program the ability to shed lighting load provides an effective solution with little occupant impact.
• New technologies with communicating ballasts offer the potential to gain valuable maintenance information including notification to replace bulbs.

What we learned at this session is that lighting control is an exciting and rapidly evolving area. New technologies including the use of wireless communications, networking and open standards are making the deployment of advanced lighting control practical in both new and existing building projects. It is worth taking a closer look at this area for your next project.

There are a number of excellent resources for information on lighting control. These include:

Lighting Controls Association:
Case study on the New York Times building project: 

Delta Controls 


About the Authors

Paul and IraPaul and Ira first worked together on a series of ASHRAE projects including the BACnet committee and Guideline 13 – Specifying DDC Controls. The formation of Building Intelligence Group provided them the ability to work together professionally providing assistance to owners with the planning, design and development of Intelligent Building Systems. Building Intelligence Group provides services for clients worldwide including leading Universities, Corporations, and Developers. More information can be found at  We also invite you to contact us directly at or


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