Adapted from a presentation at the Central Penn Business Journal’s Real Estate & Development Symposium.
Humans make errors, but robots are perfect, right?
Well, if you can automate some functions, you can remove human error.
In this case, error means forgetting to turn the lights off when you leave your office. You’ve never done this, have you? Sure, most of us (but not all) remember to turn off the lights when we leave for the day. But what about when we leave for meetings (in-house or out of the office)? How often do you leave your lights on during the day?
So install occupancy sensors on lights and save money on electricity. Occupancy sensors sense movement, so they will know when you are in the office working. And when you are not there – or happen to be taking an afternoon siesta – they’ll know that, too, and turn off the lights for you.
Programmable thermostats allow time-of-day control so you aren’t excessively heating or cooling a space when no one is even in it! We’ve actually seen hi-tech building-wide control systems being totally overridden, negating the energy-saving benefits and resulting in wacky temperatures and unhappy occupants!
Daylight harvesting systems aren’t really low-hanging fruit for energy efficiency. However, if you are willing to climb to some higher branches, they are a pretty neat concept. These systems manage natural light coming in through windows and skylights, analyze the ambient light available, and then dim or switch lights to keep from over-illuminating a space and wasting energy. The New York Times Building in New York City has been a case study for lighting – the building utilizes occupancy sensors, daylight harvesting, and appropriate task lighting to reduce annual lighting energy costs by as much as 70%.
Automated lighting control systems make a lot of sense, but may be cost prohibitive for existing buildings.
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