The demand for sustainable buildings continues to grow and with it a need to improve environmental performance throughout the life cycle of a building. Stephen Woodnutt from Delmatic explains how a lighting management system can help you to achieve those targets while reducing the amount that you spend on energy.

The world’s leading standard for best practice in sustainable development is BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) which was established by the UK Building Research Establishment and is widely used to assess the environmental impact of buildings at both the design and the post-construction stage.

Since its introduction in 1990, over 200,000 buildings have been certified with BREEAM assessment ratings and over a million have been registered for assessment, making it one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance.

So what does BREEAM involve? Basically it addresses wide ranging environmental and sustainability issues which enables developers, designers and building managers to demonstrate the environmental credentials of their building. Performance is assessed using a broad range of recognised measures of performance and buildings are then awarded a score ranging from Pass, through to Good, Very Good, and Excellent to Outstanding.

Another internationally recognised standard which encourages the adoption of sustainable design is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) which was developed by the US Green Building Council to provide a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

LEED provides a comprehensive and flexible approach to ensuring that environmental issues are considered during the design of the building and participation gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on the performance of their building.

Lighting management

A BREEAM or LEED assessment is not only about improving energy efficiency but also about understanding where energy goes in a building and taking steps to monitor and reduce this. As a result it encourages the adoption of sustainable design and construction and the integration of green energy and control systems.

In the past few years control systems have come a long way and as a result can assist in the achievement of high BREEAM and LEED ratings. Lighting management systems in particular are now able to optimise energy efficiency and sustainability and provide total flexibility through addressable control of every luminaire in a building.

The key to this change has been in the widespread adoption of an open system which incorporates the technologies of Dali, LON and TCP/IP to achieve high speed, seamless integration and interoperability with other services without the need for special gateways.

Luminaires can be linked through virtual wiring technology which enables the complete system to be programmed and adapted to suit the evolving operational requirements of both the building and the client. Changes to switching and dimming arrangements can also be made to accommodate alterations to zoning and partitioning layouts which are inevitable throughout the life cycle of the building.

What this effectively means is that a lighting management system can offer energy and operational efficiency and by assisting in the sustainable design of a building it is a key factor in the achievement of a high BREEAM or LEED score.

Technology in action

A good example of this is the installation of a Delmatic lighting management system at Eleven Brindleyplace, contributing to this becoming the first building in Birmingham’s Brindleyplace development to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating.

The lighting management system which was installed provides fully flexible addressable dimming control of lighting within office areas and uses a number of products from the Metro range which are controlled through a graphical software interface.

Importantly the system also provides total flexibility for incoming tenants who are able to configure it to suit partitioning and open plan zoning and adjust the lighting levels to suit their individual preferences.

By addressing all of the requirements of the building, including manual control of lighting, daylight-linking, presence detection, absence detection and automatic control; savings can continue to be made throughout the life cycle of the building.

Thinking ahead

Increasingly organisations are turning to lighting management systems to eliminate the unnecessary use of lighting in their buildings. This in turn helps them to meet their environmental and sustainability commitments under schemes such as BREEAM and LEED and with lighting accounting for around 25% of an organisation’s energy costs, these savings are not to be ignored.

But whether you are working towards an assessment or not, a lighting management system makes sense both for the building and the environment.

The installation of a versatile system that incorporates differing light levels for the purposes of security, maintenance, cleaning and normal occupancy modes, and which can easily be configured to suit changing user requirements is essential for any building. In the short term it will provide immediate energy savings, but beyond that, longer lamp life, as a result of the shorter burning times, will reduce maintenance costs and continue to enhance the financial savings for many years to come.