Enlighted announces NEEA research on the impact of lighting controls

Research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle demonstrated that both employee- and sensor-based lighting controls deliver energy savings in office environments.

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Enlighted has announced that new research from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) on adaptive lighting controls in workplace lighting documented a 59% reduction in energy usage at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The research found that organizations can improve employee satisfaction by letting staff control their own lighting environment while also reducing energy consumption with a mix of individual and sensor control technologies.

The NEEA worked with the New Buildings Institute and Enlighted on the study conducted over September 2011 through June 2012. The NEEA has now published the results of that research through the agency's Connect blog that links to a Word document of the complete research. The research actually studied lighting and controls in three separate buildings that yielded similar results.

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The study sought to validate in part Enlighted's claims that control technology can be easily and relatively inexpensively installed in an existing building. In the Hutchinson center, for example, the retrofit centered on the installation of dimmable ballasts in existing fixtures along with sensors and Enlighted controllers. There was no rewiring required.

The Hutchinson project was the largest in the study covering 20,000-ft2 of office space in the Yale Building in Seattle. The installation allowed employees to control the lights in their own workspace. The lights were further controlled with occupancy sensors both during the workday and in off hours.

The installation delivered 59% overall energy savings with some of that reduction coming from off hours such as effective controls that minimize energy usage at night when janitorial crews are present. Perhaps the more significant number is a 46% reduction in the peak daytime load. Part of that savings is attributable to occupancy sensors because the study found that workers are at their desks four to six hours per day on average. But part of the reduction is due to the fact that employees often adjust their local lighting to lower levels for optimal comfort.

In the Hutchinson installation, the cost of the retrofit was $2.62/ft2 or $292 per fixture covering 180 recessed center-basket linear fluorescent fixtures with T5 high-output lamps. The building lighting power density was reduces by 51% during weekday hours and by 74% during off hours.

The results section of the report in the Executive Summary states, "the Enlighted lighting control technology and dimming ballast can deliver significant savings at relatively low cost." The researcher also documented the fact that workers preferred the controlled environment.

"The lighting controls industry is taking full advantage of innovations in IT and telecom sectors, leading to a new generation of lighting control products known as Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLCs)," stated Kelly Sanders, senior product manager at NEEA. "These LLLC products are well positioned to transform energy efficiency and lighting use in the commercial sector through more sophisticated, individualized controls."

"This trial with NEEA demonstrates how Enlighted works with utilities to meter real energy savings in real commercial settings," said Enlighted CEO Tushar Dave. "This real metered data provides a high confidence basis for utility incentive programs that add to the ROI associated with the installation of these advanced lighting systems. This study also shows that advanced systems simultaneously save money and make people happier with their surroundings."

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