free webinar

Keep cool and register for Critical Cooling & Controls!
On-site at AHR Expo, January 27th in Chicago! Limited to 150 attendees…

An Illuminating Idea

October 31, 2006
KEYWORDS BAS / HVAC
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Here's how to integrate efficiency into the lighting/BAS process.

Certain aspects of the current building process make integrated systems needlessly more expensive and troublesome to construct. Just ask anyone in our industry about their lighting control integration experiences. Some common responses you may hear are: “It does not work,” “Integration is too difficult,” or “We just keep lighting controls separate.” Fortunately, the problem is not the technology, the lack of demand, or the people involved; rather, it is the process.

In our industry, there is a growing realization that integrating lighting controls into the BAS is the most efficient way of making HVAC and lighting controls manageable both in a building project and in a building as an ongoing enterprise. There is no doubt that the products, technology, and open protocols are readily available. However, the implementation of this ideal has proven to be a rocky road through inherent uncertainties in the current design, bid, procurement, and construction process. Where are the rocks in the road? How did they get there, and how can we make the road a smoother one for designers, contractors, and ultimately the facility manager?

How Did We Get Here?

The history of our industry is one of both innovation and lagging or obsolete modes of implementation. In the 1970s, lighting controls were in the domain of the skillful electrical contractor (EC), an expert in wiring, switches, and relays. In the ’80s, control manufacturers put these items in a box with a processor to provide “readymade” lighting controls with the capability of “soft wiring” lighting zones on site. Installation of the new lighting controls was still in the domain of the electrical contractor, yet responsibility for on-site programming the processor was uncertain.

In the ’90s, yet more levels of complexity were added. The relay boxes could be networked into a lighting control system with a computer. Advanced “integrated” lighting controls could become part of the BAS along with HVAC controls. ECs found themselves contractually responsible for systems that were increasingly beyond their scope and profitability. Uncertainty grew as the technology advanced. The responsibility to procure and install, configure, and integrate the lighting control system fragmented into separate camps. The EC was contractually responsible for purchasing and installing the system, yet others were needed to make the system work. The manufacturer was flown in to configure it. A new player on site, the BAS contractor, was asked to cooperate with the manufacturer to integrate it.

The Problem

Along with the fragmentation in the field, uncertainty grew in the design and bid process. While the EC was developing his bid, lighting controls that integrated into the BAS became part of the bid. Yet, the EC may not have known which BAS would be awarded the controls contract. Risk of a lighting control brand’s failure to live up to its interoperability claims forced the EC to raise his price. Add to this the “who does what?” on-site and everyone lost: the specifier, the EC, the lighting control manufacturer, the BAS contractor, and the facility manager.

A Win-Win-Win-Win Solution

It is clear that no one has a stake in maintaining these uncertainties. There is a way of specifying integrated lighting controls that moves the expertise and accountability back to a local level. Simply put: The building automation contractor provides the lighting control and the electrical contractor installs it.

Using this methodology of specification, the BAS contractor chooses a lighting control system proven to interoperate with the equipment and includes that system in his bid without any uncertainty. Win. Likewise, the electrical contractor develops his bid knowing that he is clearly responsible for installing the lighting control system and ensuring electrical power and connectivity to the lighting. Win. The designers can easily, confidently, and clearly specify that the lighting control system is provided by the BAS contractor and is installed by the electrical contractor. Win. The owner gets an integrated EMS that is sustainable and maximizes optimal efficiency. Win. IBT

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ES Gallery: Snapshots & Systems

Check out highlights from projects featured in our magazine this year!

Engineered Systems Magazine

image

2014 December

Check out the December 2014 issue of Engineered Systems.
Table Of Contents Subscribe

System Design

Based on your experience and knowledge level, are you currently comfortable designing or maintaining a system incorporating VRF or radiant ceiling panels?
View Results Poll Archive

THE ENGINEERED SYSTEMS STORE

The_Green_Energy_Management
The Green Energy Management Book

Learn from our experts how to evaluate job opportunities, market your services, sell a Walk-through Survey, target areas for an Energy Audit, calculate energy savings, do retrofit work, and win continuing contracts for retrofit work.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas Research ImageWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Tomorrow's Environment Podcast

This series from longtime columnist and chronic forward-thinker Howard McKew covers a lot of ground -- from retrocommissioning to systems training, on toward checklists for drawings and tips for meeting minutes. Click HERE to be taken to the podcast page!

STAY CONNECTED

new Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube iconLinkedIn icon  Google+