Canadian Consulting Engineer

One By One

August 1, 2011
By Paul Boken, Mulvey + Banani Lihting



Lighting control systems are becoming more and more versatile in order to serve the diverse activities and work patterns that human beings take part in today.

It is becoming standard fare to have a control system that will allow individual dimming or switching control of every light in a building, one that ties this control to any sensor on the floor (occupancy or daylight), and that allows you to do it all from your desktop or even from an iPad.

These DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) or similarly named systems may not be the best solutions from a capital cost standpoint, but they can save an enormous amount of energy long-term. They may also help you attain substantial LEED credits due to the extensive levels of lighting control they provide in the space and the depth of interaction that they offer to the occupants.

These addressable systems can bring savings in other areas. Installations, for example, tend to be easier than with traditional lighting systems because with addressable systems the fixtures, sensors, switches, etc. are typically daisy-chained together and are not home run to a central lighting control panel. The simplified installation can offset some of the more expensive material costs of addressable systems.

Many of these modern systems also eliminate the need for dimming panels, as all dimming and switching is done internally at the fixtures themselves.

Customizing the zoning for various tenants and rooms is also simpler. To meet a new tenant’s lighting zoning requirements, you often only need to revise the programming, rather than having to modify the wiring.

There are many variables to contemplate when selecting a lighting control system and, depending upon the level of control and the extent of energy savings required, either a simple switching system or a more intricate dimming system may be considered. For example, if load shedding (slight dimming or switching off lights during peak hours to save energy) or daylight harvesting is intended to be incorporated on a large scale, a full-scale dimming system should be considered in order that lighting levels change via more subtle transitions to ensure occupant comfort.

Mulvey and Banani has specified addressable lighting systems for a variety of projects, from small tenant fit-out projects to larger owner-occupied buildings, as well as for many high-rise office towers including three new towers in downtown Toronto: 18 York Street (future home of PricewaterhouseCoopers), 25 York Street (Telus Headquarters) and the new Bremner Tower at Bremner and Simcoe Streets. cce

 Paul Boken LC, BFA, IESNA manages the lighting design division at Mulvey + Banani, consulting engineers in Toronto.

ulvey + Banani


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