LED Conversions Light the Way to Building Automation

July 5, 2018 Robert Moss

The advantages of LED lighting are obvious: Organizations can reduce energy costs by more than 50% purely by converting their existing lighting fixtures to LEDs.

What's not so obvious is that LED retrofits present a unique opportunity to transform ordinary buildings into intelligent ones. Installing a digital ceiling with sensors while converting to LED lighting fixtures is an easy decision. Both actions offer a ubiquitous source of power and reduce installation costs, since they can happen simultaneously.

Rolling an intelligent building solution upgrade into LED retrofits makes financial sense. By investing the savings gained with LEDs into an intelligent building solution, a total savings of up to 70% on energy costs for lighting can be attained.

These savings are only the beginning. An intelligent building solution offers great energy efficiency gains with HVAC, refrigeration, and more. Further, it can help customers drive improved business productivity with space planning and other applications. The current technology is less obtrusive than previous generations of energy controls. That makes it simple to install gateways and other equipment—much of it is now wireless—while an LED retrofit is taking place.

Gain More Than Savings

The ease of combining lighting and digital building upgrades is particularly important for smaller buildings. Until now, the complexity of energy and other control systems has limited deployments to large buildings, with on-site facility management. Approximately 90% of the world's small- to midsize buildings do not have automation systems. This lack of automation leads to wasted energy and unnecessary spending.

In contrast, an intelligent building solution can maximize building efficiency and reduce energy costs while increasing employee safety, comfort, and productivity. Such a solution can also help organizations meet their sustainability and carbon reduction goals. By taking a scalable approach to green initiatives, organizations can achieve them without increasing their overall costs in the process.

By deploying an intelligent building solution, organizations can attain the following benefits:

  • Save money with lighting controls such as daylight harvesting and occupancy sensing.
  • Monitor and manage energy consumption and savings.
  • Unify disparate building systems, including HVAC, thermostats, refrigeration, and more.
  • Assess and control devices, building zones, and energy use across multiple facilities.
  • Track and analyze system status, events, occupancy, space utilization, and energy consumption.
  • Receive alerts when lights and other devices malfunction, need replacing, or for environmental events.
  • Automatically comply with DR programs by shedding load in response to utility signals.

Driving Sustainability with Daintree

Consider the case of the world's largest tire and rubber manufacturer. The company plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 35% by 2020 and 50% by 2050. To meet these goals, it selected Daintree Enterprise to reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs at its 1.4-million-square-foot tire distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida.

It deployed 925 GE LED fixtures, which enabled it to decrease its wattage per fixture by 51%. This also increased fixture life by more than 3X (from 30,000 hours to 100,000 hours). Next, it implemented the Daintree wireless control system, which provides the building with specified zones for dimming schedules, as well as exhaust fan controls for even more energy savings.

Together, these smart enhancements resulted in achieving a 60% reduction of annual lighting-related energy consumption and significantly lowered maintenance costs—giving the company more control of its lighting and aligning to its sustainability goals.

Daintree Helps Transform Ordinary Buildings into Intelligent Buildings

The Daintree Enterprise controls solution is an example of a smart IoT building system that enables a wide range of use cases and applications. This scalable solution can be applied to a single office, a floor, or an entire building. It can be deployed across an entire campus, and a portfolio of properties in multiple cities.

Bruce Stewart, Chief Marketing Officer at Current, Powered by GE, says, “With developments such as the Daintree Enterprise solution, existing buildings can cost-effectively deploy IoT technology and not disrupt tenants. The wireless component makes this possible.”

Stewart adds, “We are seeing customers achieve ROI in two to four years. That’s a real motivator. And beyond reducing energy consumption through LEDs, customers are gaining a comprehensive solution that lets them monitor and control HVAC, refrigeration, and other productivity applications from a single pane of glass.”

Open at the Bottom and Open at the Top

Open at the bottom means that Daintree Enterprise can combine a wide range of sensors and systems—to monitor and control HVAC, plug loads, thermostats, refrigeration, and more—over a wireless Zigbee-based mesh network.

Open at the top means organizations can develop and use the Daintree AllSites energy management application or 3rd-party apps. AllSites is intuitive, web-based, multi-tenant software that enables organizations to configure systems—as well as monitor and control devices, building zones, and energy use across their entire portfolio of properties—from any location using a PC, smartphone, or tablet. (Figure 1)

Figure 1. AllSites transforms how companies approach multi-site energy management. (Source: Daintree)

Powered by Intel®

Daintree Enterprise incorporates Intel® technology in the form of Intel gateways and Intel® Atom processors. Additional components to the solution include Wireless Area Controllers, Wireless Adapters to connect existing wired devices, and an on-site or cloud-based System Controller. For increased customization, organizations can add their own software apps on top of GE's Predix cloud platform. (Figure 2)

Figure 2. The Daintree Enterprise solution enables organizations to reduce energy costs in a single office, building, or an entire campus. (Source: Current, Powered by GE)

Organizations gain the advantage of using sensors at the edge. This enables faster response times and reduces latency by processing data where it is collected rather than sending it to the cloud for computation. Data is stored in the cloud for analytics to make data-driven decisions. This information can be organized and used in new apps built with the Daintree Enterprise open, robust APIs.

As a result, organizations have the ability to select and respond to relevant data, linked to specific goals and outcomes related to occupancy, temperature, productivity, and other metrics. This puts data to work with secure intelligence from the edge to the cloud.

The Need for Flexibility

The diversity of system configurations in buildings can make it challenging to apply Building Management Solutions (BMS) across a large portfolio of properties, especially solutions that are designed for single-purpose applications or use proprietary software. Daintree Enterprise is an open platform that works with all kinds of systems and software for HVAC, thermostat, lighting, refrigeration, security, water, and more—enabling real-time insights and action.

Smart Buildings Are Smart Investments

A variety of organizations have found that solutions such as the Daintree Enterprise solution can reduce costs by minimizing energy use and maintenance needs. Owners, managers, and tenants of properties—including office and retail spaces, warehouses, factories, and schools—are relying on data, digital solutions, and intelligent building applications to achieve their energy reduction and optimization goals. And, in the process, they are improving worker productivity and comfort.

As more businesses begin to track their outcomes related to energy efficiency goals, many will turn to smart building applications to achieve success. The Daintree Enterprise controls system provides a way forward that benefits organizations today and, as software developers invent novel applications, will offer new ways to benefit tomorrow.

About the Author

Robert Moss

Robert Moss is an independent consultant and strategist who focuses on the business value technology brings. He also helps give voice to executives at leading technology companies, enabling their personal stories to show how they encourage and develop innovation, overcome obstacles, and improve their leadership skills.

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