November 2015
Article
AutomatedBuildings.com

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The Best-Kept Industry Secret?

Engineers, both new and experienced, are unaware of the platform’s development over the past seven years into a world-class smart lighting control solution.

Mike Welch
Mike Welch,
Managing Director,
CNS

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Control Solutions, Inc

The Tridium Niagara platform is well known within the building controls industry as a leading solution for BMS and BEMS applications. However, many engineers, both new and experienced, are unaware of the platform’s development over the past seven years into a world-class smart lighting control solution. Mike Welch, Managing Director of Control Network Solutions, explores the traditional use of the Tridium Niagara Framework and outlines recent developments in the smart lighting sector which means such platforms can become world-class lighting control solutions also.
 
Harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT), the Tridium Niagara Framework running on any platform (BMS, BAS, BACS and BEMS) using it provides a complete management control solution, connecting a range of building smart devices, services equipment such as HVAC, access control, and wireless energy harvesting device networks to the internet to create smart buildings.

By integrating these services within the Niagara Framework, real-time comprehensive, control, monitoring and management is possible, enabling reduced energy costs, improved security and total control over the building’s facilities.

As smart building technology has begun to revolutionize many markets, such as HVAC and security, the smart building movement is now also driving the smart lighting sector.

Typically accounting for up to 19 per cent of a building’s running costs, lighting is a significant cost for a building owner and therefore, upgrading to automated smart controls is often deemed an effective way of improving energy efficiency.

However, current smart lighting solutions are mostly single vendor and proprietary solutions, which do not entirely conform to open interoperable international standards and do not provide seamless real-time access to individual intelligent light fixture data.

Furthermore, they are often highly inflexible; not offering real-time adds, moves and changes to address the end clients changing business needs.

So, as many of these “traditional” smart lighting control solutions use a substantial amount of power-consuming technology, are they significantly reducing the building's energy consumption and harnessing the capabilities of the IoT?

A ‘traditional’ lighting control solution typically encompasses lighting control modules (LCMs), each of which may connect to up to ten light fixtures; these are then connected to a number of area network controllers before finally being connected to the overall lighting control platform. This integration allows for control over the light fixtures, increasing the level of control a building manager has over the lighting energy bill. However, as each of these control components consumes power, even when the actual light fixtures are off, the level of ‘parasitic’ power used impacts on any financial benefits gained by installing automated controls and the low energy light fixtures.

Recent innovations within the smart control sector have however found a way of combatting this parasitic energy use. Through utilising the existing BMS platforms directly connected to networks of intelligent light fixtures, significant energy and operational cost saving can be produced.

For example, by using smart web-based solution elitedali™, such platforms may be connected to as many as 20 intelligent lighting networks. Each of these networks in turn comprises a network of up to 64 intelligent light fixtures. The means by which they are connected to such platforms generates 99% less CO2 emissions* when compared to just one “traditional” LCM based solution. Furthermore, the amount of installed hardware is immediately reduced by six times.

By using the Niagara platform and installing elitedali lighting controls removing these extra levels of components can, as seen in a Danish retail store, produce energy savings of up to 7,000 per month.

As lighting is often overlooked by both experienced and new engineers when installing the Niagara BMS, there are several unique benefits that building owners and managers are missing out on.

For example, connecting networks of any open standard interoperable intelligent light fixtures directly to any suitable Niagara Framework platform through the use of solutions such as elitedali, ensures building owners and managers have complete real-time control over their lighting solution from any location (both local and remote) in the world via the internet, using any suitable web browser platform. This control includes the widest choice, today, in who installs, commissions and maintains the system, as well as having total access to all live light fixture, sensor data and commands, allowing for real-time control, monitoring and analytics.

If installed throughout an entire building or in various offices, this analytical function can enable the calculation of business output per area to be measured against the cost of providing a suitable work environment.

Reliable Controls Alongside future cost savings and increased building energy efficiency, through utilising the building’s existing BMS platform as a lighting control solution, the initial cost and investment required is dramatically reduced.

Therefore, by choosing a smart web-based solution, based on simplified architecture and fewer components, significant improvements in building energy efficiency and running costs can be achieved.

Lighting is often neglected by BMS system integrators so Niagara-based lighting controls could be referred to as one of the control industry’s best-kept secrets. However, as global construction and building managers continue to drive toward sustainable, energy efficient buildings and with market disruptive solutions such as elitedali entering the lighting sector, it is unlikely to remain so for long.

* According to independently commissioned E U Sustainability, available upon request.


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