We tend to always focus on the new and often forget that the greatest opportunity in lighting and emergency lighting is those buildings that have already been constructed.

The UK government has made obligations to green up the UK market by significantly reducing the carbon footprint of UK Construction by 2050. This is all part of the 2008 Climate Change act.

The UK Green Construction Board mentioned in a recent report that by 2050 over 80% of UK building stock will exist.

This does then pose a few challenges as we are talking about a mix of existing buildings and new construction. The new buildings of today will become part of the existing building statistics and as such will be dated in their use of technology in 10, 20 or 30 years.  That’s to be expected and with each new step in technology buildings will become smarter and greener but it does leave us with a significant legacy of buildings that are inefficient.

If we are smart, we can build in provision to make future buildings intelligent, so they evolve with the building and lend themselves to upgrade. We can factor in smart controls and provide an open and flexible platform that at the very least gives us a framework that can be upgraded.

Many building owners are finding their existing building stock is so locked down with proprietary solutions that they are being held to ransom by the incumbent systems house and as such any changes or upgrades garner huge costs. If we factor in a lack of knowledge, be this the client or their FM and we are in a situation where we continue to patch dated systems without an eye to the future.

If we are to ignore for one minute the benefits of carbon reduction, we must surely as a priority consider how we operate our buildings as a fundamental system of management. Lighting, Heating, Ventilation, Fire, Security all of these systems have to function to allow us to operate a building and if managed well they can improve the working environment and as a by-product reduce carbon consumption.  We all know this but in reality we rarely enforce the principles of servicing and maintain or indeed the concept of Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) where we fine tune installations to suit the needs of the user.

On existing building stock, the opportunities to improve the integration of the services may be limited by the incumbent system but that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve the building. The approach of the lighting industry is to support open protocols so that we have for the first time Interoperability between manufacturers. Devices have been engineered so they can be replaced and upgraded as an when necessary and the move towards smart wireless in 2020 through IEC 62386 Part 104 DALI is a game changer for removing the shackles of locked down systems to free up the potential of buildings one room at a time.

Wired or wireless it doesn’t really matter if the technology is open and designed to be upgraded through life. We all naturally embraced LED technology to give us that once in a generation energy saving and controls are now in a similar position.

In 10 years, the buildings of today will be the old existing stock, but they don’t have to be so limited in their capability.

Using an open approach to controls, current and future levels of Integration can develop with the building to provide a level of upgrade never before seen in construction. It’s true that in 10 years’ time the state-of-the-art technology of today won’t be close to that available in 2030, that said as an industry we are only just embracing wireless control so it may not so different to today!

What I do find surprising is that we are still installing control systems that are based on 20-year-old technology and these are the areas where we need to carefully consider the impact of the decision we make today.

Collectively we must reduce our Carbon footprint and to do this we have to have frameworks in place that provide true interoperability and processes that allow systems to truly integrate.

We must design for the future whilst not forgetting the twin constraints of design and budget. The design element if managed correctly will support the technology and one could argue that if designed correctly smart technology based on open protocols is cheaper than the clunky systems of the past.

Less is more and with the right technology and good design this is the case. With controls the modular approach as defined by IEC 62386 Parts 101,102,103 &104 DALI-2, we have a framework that as an industry we all agree upon. Its supports wired and wireless technology and gives freedom to the Designer, OEM and Engineer to create installations that are feature rich yet cost efficient as they use freely available technology.

As smarter technology enters the market it makes perfect sense to work with the Lighting Industry and interface to a known standard such as DALI as lighting control is not just about the switches and sensors it’s the integration of these and the connected drivers and invertors that power the luminaires. It’s a truly Holistic approach to lighting.

So returning to the original theme of this post, we have made a commitment that will see the UK dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions by 2050. We must consider the existing building stock in these discussions as they are the number one opportunity for energy saving and if we apply an open methodology to existing buildings and match the industry approach to new build then we are providing a level playing field for all.

The upgrades that will be available to future buildings will be backwards compatible if the core infrastructure of refurbished buildings takes an open approach and supports the DALI-2 approach.

Controls has never been so exciting and with the growth of beacon technology and tracking facilities, your existing office can be upgraded to a smart office that will be truly connected. If we also factor in emergency lighting as part of your life safety systems, then we have the ability to incorporate some very smart technology that takes the Internet of Things (IoT) to a whole new level.

If you would like to have a discussion on any of the points, I’ve raised drop me a line or give me a call. I’m more than happy to sit down with any building owner to discuss their future needs.

Stewart B Langdown

e: stewart.langdown@zencontrol.co.uk

Looking at tt: +44(0)7774 821093