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Maximize Value and Minimize Risk
Include Support Services in Your Lighting Control Requirements

The lighting control solution you choose is critical, but in many cases, the support services are the ultimate indicator of the right project partners. 

By Andy Wakefield, M.SAME 

   

Today’s lighting control systems are more flexible than ever, and they can have a tremendously positive impact on the total building environment. More frequently, government facilities projects are including advanced lighting control strategies and automated lighting control systems in both new buildings and major renovations. As fast-paced technology improvements continue to enhance system capabilities, designing those systems becomes more complex. 

Facility managers are ultimately responsible for keeping the systems up-to-date, operating at their highest efficiency, and able to adapt quickly to changing building requirements.  Identifying the right mix of support services early in the process (including training and preventive maintenance) is one of the best ways to maximize system efficiency, ensure a long product life, and minimize risk from design through post-occupancy.

 Include services in your system requirements to best support your project from initial design, to commissioning, to post-occupancy, and beyond.

Include services in your system requirements to best support your project from initial design, to commissioning, to post-occupancy, and beyond. IMAGE COURTESY LUTRON ELECTRONICS


 

 

START AT THE VERY BEGINNING

A relatively small, upfront investment in time and money can make the job process go much more smoothly, reduce change orders, avoid miscommunication, and save untold time and aggravation. Support services also help unlock the system’s full potential, minimize risk, and maximize return on investment. And, while it is better to include support services at some point than not at all, the best time to consider services is before you are too far along into system design, installation, and commissioning.

As part of the design process, it is a good practice to require a consultative visit to review integration between the lighting control system and other building management systems. Be sure to involve key people including the electrical and general contractors, system integrators, IT professionals, and other tradespeople to ensure a seamless installation.

A consultation visit will facilitate an agreed upon Sequence of Operations. It is easier to wrap your mind around all the moving parts early in the process—and think about how they will interoperate. This consultative step also gives you and your team more time to consider what each space is designed to do; how space occupants will have to be accommodated; and what types of training will be necessary for the facilities and maintenance people responsible for day-to-day building operation.

  

Correct sensor placement is critical to performance

Almost any new lighting control system includes occupancy sensors. Many include daylight sensors that automatically adjust electric light in response to available daylight. Wireless protocols make it easier to adjust placement and programming of these controls, but it can still be challenging to make sure they are in the ideal location for achieving energy-saving goals and taking full advantage of daylight penetration in the space.

Sensors generally have an immediate, measurable impact on energy use, but accurate placement is critical to maximize their benefits. Sensor layout and tuning services ensure sensors are in the right place, and are working properly based on your defined Sequence of Operations. The service agreement should allow for follow-up to make sure the positioning and programming still makes sense once the building is fully occupied. Sensor performance can be affected by bookshelves, shades, partitions, or a variety of other things that may change once the building is fully occupied. Follow up services are essential to achieve planned energy savings, and to make sure occupants are comfortable in the space.

  

Building codes and standards are constantly evolving. Take the burden off the electrical contractor or a third-party commissioning agent, and count on the system provider to supply the testing and results necessary to make the verification process go more smoothly.


  

Commissioning services ensure proper system configuration

Commissioning, or "startup,” is an important step for both the building facilities team and the system manufacturer. The process helps everyone meet their goals. The facilities team is anxious to see that the system is working, as expected, when the project is turned over. Contractors want to minimize project callbacks. The system provider knows their reputation relies on making sure the control system works. And building occupants then know how to use the technology.

Typically, commissioning can be scheduled to best accommodate the facilities team and the building occupants. It can be done prior to occupation, or after hours, so that business can continue as usual, or even remotely via telephone depending on the complexity of the project and the training needs of the facilities team. Depending on the lead time and training required, it can be tailored to comply with budget and timing requirements.

  

COMPLYING WITH ENERGY CODES, MANDATES AND STANDARDS

More and more often, the lighting control system is one of the most critical elements for meeting aggressive building codes, local requirements, and sustainability goals. When you include system performance and documentation services in the initial project requirements, you will not be caught unaware by documentation you did not know you needed, system verifications you are not prepared to provide, and testing results required by LEED, Title 24, and other performance standards such as Executive Order 13693, Planning for Sustainability in the Next Decade. The system provider is typically best prepared to provide this service, especially if they just performed the commissioning.

Building codes and standards are constantly evolving. Take the burden off the electrical contractor or a third-party commissioning agent, and count on the system provider to supply the testing and results necessary to make the verification process go more smoothly.

  

Plan for the future with preventive maintenance visits

Lighting control systems are comprised of components arranged in unique configurations, with many pieces and parts to manage. Buildings change; occupants change; software has to be updated. The system settings need to be adjusted to accommodate. Likewise, integration with third-party systems can cause unexpected challenges over time.

Periodic, scheduled reviews of energy use data can highlight areas where system recommissioning will enhance energy savings over time. And finally, annual training visits and preventive maintenance services provide peace of mind, keep your systems and staff up to date, and limit surprises and unplanned costs. This is even more important with software-dependent lighting control systems, which is virtually any new lighting control system. Software maintenance agreements can extend the software warranty, provide compatibility testing as software versions are upgraded, and provide excellent value if they include license upgrades in the cost of the agreements. While a high-quality system will work for many years, as the technology that drives the system changes, it is critical that your software stays up to date. 

 

A relatively small, upfront investment in time and money can make the job process go much more smoothly, reduce change orders, avoid miscommunication, and save untold time and aggravation. 


  

WARRANTIES CAN BE YOUR BEST DEFENSE

Even in the very best of situations things can go wrong and your needs can change, Make sure you have chosen a lighting control provider with a long history of excellence, and a commitment to servicing the customer’s needs quickly and efficiently. 

The right support services will quickly pay for themselves, enhance the value, and increase the life cycle of your building systems. The lighting control solution you choose is critical, but in many cases, the support services can be the ultimate indicator of the right project partners.

Investigate the types of support each provider offers just as carefully as you consider the features and benefits of their product solutions. In the end, the decision will save you time and money, and very likely save you a lot of stress, too.    


 

Andy Wakefield, M.SAME, is Senior Sales Director–Building Solutions and Services, Lutron Electronics; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..