November 2015

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EMAIL INTERVIEWKaynam Hedayat and Ken Sinclair

Kaynam Hedayat, VP Product Management, Digital Lumens

How is lighting the nerve system of the smart building?

Densely distributed throughout all building types and the urban landscape, lighting is the most logical platform for embedding sensors that gather key information about a space and provide a network to relay that information back to software-based controls.

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SinclairHow would you assess the smart building market at this time and where do you see it evolving over the next 10 years?

Hedayat:  It's no secret that buildings are getting "smart” as connected products – intelligent lighting, HVAC systems, and an array of others – are becoming more popular. In fact, according to estimates from leading research organizations, investing in smart building technology is set to surpass $17 billion by 2019 (IDC).

That is because organizations are trying to figure out how to leverage the smart building for business advantage, and the opportunities are limitless. But what ‘smart building’ means differs greatly by building type. A hospital needs to be smart in different ways than a hotel, for example. The smart hospital needs to monitor systems and environments for employee and patient safety; it also needs smart systems that provide location information about equipment locations and patients in the building. The smart hotel, on the other hand will be able to decode your biometric sensor (think next-generation FitBits), and translate that data into a hotel experience optimized to help you overcome your jet lag with color-tuned lights, for example. And, the smart manufacturing facility will have systems optimized around production outcomes and the equipment and people needed to build product.

As we move towards the truly smart building, the question becomes the path. The longer-term vision is easy; the challenge for the building owner/manager is to identify and install the paving stones that get there. As smart buildings come to life, a multitude of applications throughout these buildings will increasingly be connected to a dense network of sensored, Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices that run on building power. One of the most natural places to deploy these sensors is in intelligent lighting due to the prevalence of lighting and the commercialization of LED technology. Densely distributed throughout all building types and the urban landscape, lighting is the most logical platform for embedding sensors that gather key information about a space and provide a network to relay that information back to software-based controls. Lighting has placement and access to power, and efficiency savings from lighting retrofit projects often eliminate the need to create a business case for standalone building intelligence platforms. The challenge is identifying the smart systems that can be tied into the smart building now and down the road.

Sinclair:  What role does the Internet of Things (IoT) play in the smart building?

Hedayat:  An absolutely critical element of the smart building, the IoT is an omnipresent buzz phrase in the technology world, and a trend that Gartner cites as being at the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ in its 2014 Hype Cycle. While somewhat confusing in its broad applicability (from wearable devices to jet engines), the technologies that comprise the IoT – sensors, networking and software – are the keys to unlocking building intelligence.

The IoT is making the smart enterprise a reality today as organizations transition to an interconnected smart building infrastructure that provides data-driven insights into business operations. For example, IoT-enabled technologies like intelligent lighting help organizations gain new operational functionality, paid for by efficiency savings. Systems such as intelligent lighting not only feed into the IoT, they can also be a platform for the IoT within the smart building. The data gathered from embedded sensors within intelligent lighting systems provides new insight into personnel, customer and operational patterns, creating a whole new value stream.

SinclairWhy is intelligent lighting strategic to the smart building?

Hedayat:  Because intelligent lighting – sensor-laden lighting networks – acts as the nervous system of the smart building. From warehouses, offices, retail stores to manufacturing lines or hotels, intelligent LED lighting saves dramatic levels of energy, while offering the ability to integrate with other systems – for enhanced operational visibility, compliance reporting and more.

When updating outdated lighting systems or installing one in a new facility, it makes sense to maximize the investment by implementing intelligent lighting. The savings derived from an intelligent LED lighting system result in payback of as little as two years while the system acts as a platform for the IoT by compiling plethora of data from across the building further maximizing the investment.

SinclairHow can data from intelligent lighting systems impact an organization?

Hedayat:  Intelligent lighting systems’ unprecedented visibility and control over lighting resources and energy data throughout buildings has helped organizations improve their operational performance and maximize energy savings. Sensors built into intelligent lighting systems trigger lighting behavior (on/off/dimmed) according to software-based instructions (if it’s 8:00 a.m. Monday a.m., then an occupancy sensor trigger should turn light on to 100%, remain on for :30 after the area is occupied, then dim to 10% output; if it’s 2:40 a.m. Friday night, lights should come on to 40% for the cleaning team and return to 0% output when clear), and create a rich stream of metadata that shows employee and facility productivity, while driving lighting efficiency.

Organizations that use operational data – a new layer of business intelligence for the built environment – are able to derive long-term value from intelligent lighting. Across a broad range of commercial and industrial environments – from retail to manufacturing to sporting environments and more – the data shows traffic patterns such as where people are (employees, customers) by day or shift and how long they spend in a space. Or inefficiencies in material placement, for example. Warehouse managers are using occupancy data to identify bottlenecks in lift truck routes, redistribute inventory to improve pick and pack times, reduce length of lift truck runs, and save on battery charging costs that, in turn, drive peak demand charges.

While data from intelligent lighting has been used to improve operational and energy efficiency across many applications, there are still many applications yet to fully utilize this data. In the future, data from intelligent lighting systems will be used to manage sound level, temperature and humidity in order to ensure a comfortable environment. Lighting will also be used to change the mood as different hues can improve productivity, health and wellness.

SinclairWhat should building managers be thinking about in considering smart lighting alternatives?

Hedayat:  There are three key areas to consider: the difference between dumb and smart lighting, the long-term value to the organization, and who in the organization can benefit from the building-wide intelligence these new systems offer.

LEDs are the lighting technology of choice. According to the most recent McKinsey study on the topic, the global market for LED lighting will reach $94 billion by 2020, encompassing nearly 60% of the total lighting market. Widespread adoption is predicted to occur steadily over the next decade and beyond as LEDs continue to prove their value.

But plain LEDs – without software-based controls – are a dead-end and will play no role in the smart building. In contrast, fully integrated intelligence – lighting systems with embedded sensors and wireless controls – offers quantum leaps in efficiency and performance. In fact, in commercial and industrial environments, the difference between plain LEDs and intelligent LEDs can be 40% additional energy savings (93% vs. 50%). This efficiency gain drives additional energy savings and a much faster payback, while the data the system provides produces long-term benefits to operations teams.  

When considering intelligent lighting systems, it is important to factor in opportunities to extract additional value from the system. This requires thinking about which systems should be communicating with each other, and which other stakeholders across the organization can benefit from the available system data. In practical terms, systems need open APIs, which provide the pathway to integrating with other building systems such as HVAC, and for sharing that data with the ERP or other systems of record.

Control Solutions, Inc SinclairWho should be involved in evaluating smart building solutions?

Hedayat:  The reality is that IoT-enabled systems such as intelligent lighting will impact all corners of the smart building. Lighting, which was once managed solely by the facilities team, now encompasses much more than simply providing light. Because of this, smart building solutions – networked, sensor-laden objects and systems – should be evaluated by facilities teams in partnership with their IT counterparts. Involving both will help the enterprise extract maximum value from these new, smart devices and accelerate the return on investment in both dollars and operational value. Going forward, CIOs, CEOs, Sustainability managers, facility managers and CTOs will need to be involved in the smart building discussions.


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