Developing Flexible, Networked Lighting Control Systems That Reliably Save Energy in California Buildings

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An important strategy to meet California's ambitious energy efficiency goals is to use innovative wireless communications, embedded sensors, data analytics and controls to significantly reduce lighting energy use in commercial buildings. This project developed a suite of networked lighting solutions to further this goal. The technologies include a platform for low-cost sensing, distributed intelligence and communications, the “PermaMote,” which is a self-powered sensor and controller for lighting applications. The project team also developed atask ambient daylighting system that integrates sensors with data-driven daylighting control using an open communication interface, called the “Readings-At-Desk” (RAD) system. To address the problem of building occupants being confused about how to operate traditional lighting control systems, the research team created content that could be the basis for a user interface standard for lighting controls. Finally, to address the difficulty of ensuring that advanced lighting control systems actually deliver their promised energy savings, the project team developed a new method for evaluating and specifying lighting systems’ performance.The research team validated these technologies in the laboratory, showing significant lighting energy savings, up to 73% for the PermaMote sensor system from occupancy control and daylight dimming features, compared to the same light source (LED replacement lamps) operated via simple on/off scheduling. The project team also developed a proposed standard lighting data model and user interface elements, which were contributed to the ANSI Lighting Systems Committee (C137) for standardization. Existing data models are incomplete and inconsistent, whereas the lighting-specific data model developed here is clear and comprehensive, to serve as a starting point for creating common, universally agreed upon semantic definitions of key lighting parameters, to promote interoperability. For the task on verifiable performance of lighting systems, the project team developed a more effective metric for capturing the actual energy impact of a lighting system over time — the energy usage intensity (kWh/ft2/year). Three commercial lighting systems were tested in FLEXLAB® using this new metric, and the tests show a wide range in the accuracy of the self-reported energy-use metric, from 0.5% to 28% error compared to direct measurement of lighting energy using dedicated submeters. Overall, the project team estimates that these advanced technologies can reduce California office lighting energy use by 20% (above and beyond normal advanced lighting controls mandated by Title 24), resulting in about 1,600 GWh/year in savings

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