Now that lighting controls have become a standard element in virtually all non-residential lighting projects, it is becoming increasingly important to consider how those controls will be used. It is no longer good enough to just tick the box that says ‘lighting controls installed’. We must be aware of how they will be used and in what circumstances – and to specify them accordingly.
Breeam environmental assessments now place greater emphasis on consultation with the client on their operational requirements, and this has particular relevance to controls.
The education sector has some overlaps with other lighting control applications, but also has a lot of its own requirements.
For instance, the Building Regulations are set to encourage wider use of graduated dimming in classrooms to ensure that the lit environment supports learning, while minimising energy consumption. Such lighting control strategies also need to enable the teacher to adjust light levels in most of the space when required to draw attention to the front of the classroom. Just as importantly, such controls need to be very easy to use by teachers or caretaking staff.
Another characteristic of educational facilities is variable occupancy – classrooms may be in use for most of the school day during term time but in the evenings and during school holidays they will only be used occasionally. Occupancy detection is clearly desirable, and selecting the right solution can deliver significant savings. In a classroom, for instance, a single microwave detector may offer the same level of control as two or more PIR detectors, thereby reducing capital costs as well as cabling requirements.
Lighting controls are rising to these challenges through new products that are geared to specific sectors rather than being an off-the-shelf ‘catch-all’. When specifying controls, go for suppliers with the right combination of knowledge, experience, product range and a proven track record.
Marcus Martin is CEO of CP Electronics