But the deal with GE's Current could also put chips and sensors outside the LED lighting infrastructure, in yet another sign that smart buildings won't always be driven by luminaires.
In a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string deal, GE's lighting and energy management group Current has agreed to evaluate the lighting at around 600 Morgan Stanley retail brokerage branches and to install LED illumination, smart controls, and IoT paraphernalia as needed at each location for energy savings, a project that comes as GE continues to shop the group.
Current, powered by GE will assess each of more than 600 outlets of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management on a case-by-case basis. Installations were scheduled to begin this week at a branch in Hilton Head, SC, which is among a first crop of offices that Current has already evaluated, a Current spokesperson told LEDs Magazine. The project will carry on over “the next few years,” the company representative said.
The initial group will receive LED lighting controlled by Current's Daintree wireless control system, although after that not all of the 600 will necessarily opt for Daintree, marking one of several open-ended aspects of the IoT lighting project.
The overall aim is to reduce energy consumption and improve operations. Some of the branches will reduce their lighting-related energy consumption by up to 50%, according to Current, which did not indicate what proportion might hit that level.
Current will deliver energy savings through a combination of LED lighting — known for energy efficiency (fluorescents are also highly energy efficient) — and through intelligent controls such as Daintree. It will also make use of sensors and other devices that help detect and manage things like building occupancy, natural light optimization, thermostats, and plug loads.
GE formed Current in October 2015 to help companies manage commercial energy consumption, tying together things like LED lighting, solar panels, and electric car batteries to gather and distribute data, and to thus make operations more energy efficient. Current epitomizes the data-driven course that much of the lighting industry is pursuing in some form or another, such as Philips Lighting's new Interact IoT brand, as well as Philips' pending name change to Signify.
While the lighting industry aspires to embed more and more IoT circuitry in its wares, those chips and sensors in some cases might be better located outside the lights. That, in turn, underscores the competition that the lighting industry faces from the IT industry in trying to outfit smart offices. In London, for instance, Barclays plc has outfitted investment banking offices with occupancy sensors that have nothing to do with the lights.
Thus, lighting companies are themselves investigating ways to broaden their offerings outside of the lighting infrastructure.
Current's spokesperson told LEDs that the location of the sensors at the Morgan Stanley offices — whether they are inside the lighting or mounted elsewhere in the office — is “to be determined.” So, too, are the dollar value of the project, the duration of the project, the implementation of Daintree, the amount of remote IoT monitoring, and the overall energy savings, the spokesperson said.
Like the proverbial piece of string that inherently has no length, the contract appears to have an indeterminate size and scope, other than it will cover more than 600 branches.
Current is the lead contractor, working in partnership with real estate company Hines.
Meanwhile, GE continues to seek a buyer for Current and for the portion of GE Lighting — its residential and conventional lighting business — that it hasn't sold. Earlier this year, it agreed to sell the EMEA division of GE Lighting to the former president of GE Hungary, who is rebranding it as Tungsram, the name of the former state-owned Hungarian national lighting and electronics company the GE bought in 1990.
MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist (firstname.lastname@example.org).