Toronto workshop examines benefits of smart lighting

March 24, 2012
A recent SSL workshop highlighted the benefits that lighting controls can bring, while acknowledging impediments to broader adoption.
Solid-state lighting (SSL) technologies present an opportunity to significantly reduce energy consumption but also fundamentally change the way users deploy, monitor and control lighting systems. On March 16th, the Solid State Lighting Network (SSLNet), an SSL initiative designed to provide a Canadian focal point for SSL researchers, manufacturers and industry participants, hosted a workshop entitled “Smart Sustainable Lighting” at the University of Toronto. The event brought together more than 100 specialists from the research and industrial communities who are working on a full-system shift towards smart lighting.
Venkat Venkataramanan, founder of the SSLNet, opened the workshop with a presentation on the current state of the lighting industry. He highlighted R&D opportunities available through the organization’s information portal,

Alexandra Reid from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada spoke about increasing collaboration between Canada’s universities and industries to help solve scientific problems. Many of these programs, such as the Engage Grant, can either match money provided by a partner company or will provide grants towards a research project initiated by an industry partner. The programs are designed to reduce the resources required to complete R&D projects.

Fred Shubert, the Wellfleet senior constellation professor at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, presented the keynote talk on the rich history of lighting and the challenges, impact, and opportunities offered by LED-based lighting. The workshop keynote was also the annual Boris Stoicheff Lecture that was founded in memory of Boris Stoicheff, one of Canada’s most prolific physicists who built the first laser in Canada.

Representatives from manufacturers, including Shirley Coyle of Cree Canada, Chad Stalker of Philips Lumileds, Paul Schiedt of Cree and John Barnes of Linear Technology, discussed a wide range of both market and technological developments and difficulties associated with the widespread adoption of LED products. For instance, there are many LED installations within parking garages, parking lots, highway service stations and along municipal roadways and highways, which have helped drive interest in the technology. However, issues of reliability, upfront costs, designer and specifier education, and overall trust are preventing widespread commercial and residential adoption.

Geoff Olsen from Osram Encelium and Warren Miedema from Synapse Wireless both discussed new lighting control systems. Some of the energy management strategies these systems employ include occupancy control, smart time scheduling, task tuning, personal control, and daylight harvesting. Taken together, these different tactics can save companies 50-75% of their energy costs.

Jennifer Veitch from the NRC discussed improved employee satisfaction associated with smarter lighting control. Through her work at the Institute for Research in Construction, Veitch’s team has found that people prefer a mixture of both direct and indirect lighting that illuminates the entire workspace and provides personal control over local lighting conditions. Field investigations have also shown that satisfaction with the lit environment predicts greater job satisfaction, greater organizational commitment, lower intent to turnover, and fewer health problems.