AWA NEWS: “Healthy Lighting” Series – Part 7 of 7

AWA NEWS: “Healthy Lighting” Series – Part 7 of 7

Where Are We Going?

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As 2021 comes to a close, we are excited to bring you the final part of our “Healthy Lighting” Series of newsletters. As we shared at the start of the series, our ongoing research on light and health makes inroads in widening our zeitgeist to understand the impact of electric light on the human body— its physiological and psychological effects. By developing this knowledge into patented products, we aim to implement this gleaned knowledge into our architectural projects.

Where are we going? Exploring and understanding what is possible in our upcoming future only serves to invigorate a practice and to encourage new paradigms. Properly integrated lighting design has the potential to enhance energy efficiency and promote a sustainable lifestyle within any new building. In the overall design process, lighting consultants and manufacturers can add valuable insight into how a building’s energy consumption can be reduced. Global organizations promote sustainable lighting by providing standards and impetus for green building practices for lighting, advocating public awareness of energy-saving green lamp innovations, providing programs and incentives for replacement of energy-guzzling lighting technologies, initiating programs to provide lighting for underprivileged communities, and providing technologically advanced research and innovation in lighting. 

The tide of the green movement’s influence in expanding the implementation of ethically sustainable practices into design can be seen through several different certifications and policy initiatives undertaken in recent years. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification formed by the U.S. Green Building Council is the world’s leading certification in sustainable design for architecture in the United States. Developed by the 20,000 or so members of the council, the certification is won by adhering voluntarily to the standards developed by the council for that specific year. The standards evolve and are voted on by the council every year, with the certification goals becoming ever more progressive.

Although it is just one piece of the puzzle, lighting has an outsized effect on sustainability. Understanding what is possible in this arena only serves to invigorate a practice and encourage new paradigms. Over time, the architectural community has become increasingly invested in the realization of environmentally sustainable design, and this trend shows no sign of abating. Sustainable solutions acting in a major metropolis can save building owners significant amounts on operational costs and can help cut back in vast quantities on the carbon emissions that would otherwise pervade. In other parts of the world, sustainable lighting solutions can make the difference between continuing one’s day: be that education, work, or home tasks; or allowing darkness to swallow up needed hours of productivity. Sustainability touches us all. 

System Integration for the future is the process of bringing together the component subsystems into one system and ensuring that the subsystems function together as a system. Within each of the integral components of system integration, a clear network of communication must be established between the controls and the hardware or equipment for each potential scheme. With access to a network, the lighting controls can also be controlled remotely from the Internet or with radiofrequency. Integrated with the security system, intelligent lighting can also deter unwanted intruders from entering the property with motion-sensor reactive lighting fixtures.

Intelligent lighting design responds to the way you live. Light any area or fixture with the touch of a button at full luminosity or dimmed with fully programmable lighting; you can place the light where you want when you want it. Lighting can be controlled internally from a touch panel or switch. It can also be controlled remotely from the Internet or with radiofrequency. When you step into a room, lighting can be programmed to automatically illuminate without touching a button. Integrated with the security system, intelligent lighting can also give the appearance that someone is at home when you’re away. 

The future of wiring includes a discussion about Power Over Ethernet (PoE) which refers to the use of ethernet cables for delivering electrical power to light fixtures and are part of a structured IT network. The big advantage of PoE is that it enables a single cable to provide both a data connection and electrical power to PoE devices, such as wireless access points and lighting, adapters, switches and ports, phone systems, cameras, and LED lighting. This kind of a protocol provides efficient space and resource management for managing and controlling individual light fixtures and can be used for other systems as well, such as HVAC, security, electrical load, daylight harvesting, and access control. As new controls, IT and sensor technologies emerge and evolve, this kind of system competency will be a differentiator within the lighting profession.

Advances in energy-efficient building solutions and requirements for the buildings to be “Smart” have encouraged the rise of PoE systems as viable options for power and control. There is much work and transfer of knowledge that needs to occur for the wider implementation of PoE systems. Connecting historically static devices and systems to the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming increasingly common and competitively necessary, it brings the total number of potential devices in the IoT cloud well into the billions. However, for these smart lighting and other IoT-connected items to work together seamlessly, they will all need to be able to speak with each other in a common protocol. Also, since the components are not yet standardized, detailed testing should be requested from component manufacturers and OEM integrators.

You can read more about this topic in my book “Contextualizing Light” which was released in June 2020 and is available on Amazon (link here) and other bookstores.

Abhay M Wadhwa
Design Principal  l  CEO
AWA Lighting Designers

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