Managing Internal Loads: Lighting Controls

How can lighting controls help lower energy use and improve building performance?

In some situations, artificial lighting may be a leading contributor to the energy consumption in your building. Lighting controls that turn off or dim artificial lighting based on occupancy and daylighting help to save energy in two ways:

  • First, reducing the use of artificial lighting reduces the operational energy required to run the lights.
  • Second, limiting the use of artificial lights also limits the byproduct of their operation: heat. Limiting the amount of heat within a space may help lower the operational energy use and overall capacity of your mechanical systems. This has the potential to save money and usable space.  

The simplest form of lighting control is for occupants to simply turn off the lights when a space is empty. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, and may not be an acceptably reliable solution for some projects. Occupancy sensors on the other hand, which use infrared or ultrasonic motion sensors to sense occupants in a space, can automatically turn lights on or off as the room is occupied or empty.

Lighting sensors can also respond to the amount of light in a space. Consider a room with a lot of windows: often, the natural light will be sufficient to light the space; sometimes however, maybe in the winter or in the evening, artificial light will be required. Sensor-based automatic dimming can ensure an optimum balance of illumination and resource conservation.

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