September 17, 2018
By William R. MacGowan, P.Eng., CEM, and Tony D’Alesio
In a smart building, connected technology creates a digital “ecosystem” where data is captured and analyzed, offering answers to questions like what a space is used for and how well the environment serves its occupants. This information, in turn, provides insights previously unobtainable—it enables businesses to optimize spaces, improve services, and deliver new value to investors, owners, employees, and customers.
Lighting is ubiquitous, with powered fixtures in every area of the building. In addition to illuminating office spaces with high quality and energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, connected lighting with Power over Ethernet (PoE) collects data to inform owners of maintenance requests, occupancy trends, and requests for temperature control. The result is a smarter, more efficient, sustainable, and responsive building.
To harness the benefits of this new byproduct of the evolution of connected systems and the Internet of Things (IoT) requires reshaping the workplace. Previous efficiencies and improvements focused solely on fixed considerations and ignored a company’s largest investments—real estate and employees. Connected lighting systems play a crucial role in helping businesses realize the value of smart buildings so they can attract or maintain investors, customers, and top talent, as well as stave off competitive threats, and remain innovative while spending and saving wisely.
Smart lighting—one of the largest investments for both new construction and retrofit projects—drives value across these five primary pillars:
PoE is one of the transformational technologies for connected lighting systems driving buildings to be more smart and efficient. Using PoE technology, secure low-voltage power is delivered over Ethernet-structured cables to operate luminaires as well as send and collect high volumes of secure data.
Next-generation digital buildings combine collaborative innovations in smart devices/sensors with PoE (15 watts), PoE+ (30 watts), and Universal PoE (60 watts). Lighting also creates a layer of Internet Protocol- (IP) connected (light) endpoints in the ceiling. Embedding IP into the luminaire intelligence allows for each light to be uniquely addressable and securely protected from hacking. It can also deliver high rates/bandwidth of data as an information platform.
Canadian businesses are moving beyond energy savings. They are seeking improved operational efficiencies, exploring space optimization, and looking for new ways to enhance employee productivity and well-being.
In 2016, the Forrester report, “IoT Smart Building Solutions transform the Workplace,” cited a study by a furnishings manufacturer that found private offices are unoccupied 77 per cent of the time, workstations are unoccupied 60 per cent of the time, and conference room seating rarely reaches full capacity.
Since smart lighting technologies provide space utilization data and heat mapping, building owners can make better decisions by tracking how employees utilize a facility.
Four years ago, information technology (IT) and networking firm Cisco implemented a building systems network which replaced traditional AC power and secondary communication infrastructure to the luminaires with a highly secure, open, and scalable DC-powered structured cabling intuitive network. The PoE/PoE+ connected lighting system comprising 1400 LED fixtures and 700 sensors across 9290 m2 (100,000 sf) was installed at Oxford Properties RBC Waterpark Place III—a 90,903-m2 (1 million-sf) building in Toronto. The change was a response to some of the challenges the company faced, including brand perception and attracting top talent (Figure 1).
RBC Waterpark Place
To fully realize IoT’s promise, lighting and IT companies must partner to give customers the best the industry has to offer. RBC Waterpark Place in Toronto is home to Cisco’s Canadian headquarters. Owned by Oxford Development and built by EllisDon Corporation, the 30-storey Waterpark Place was one of the city’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum office and retail developments, with many of its design aspects focusing on efficiency and sustainability.
A connected lighting system on all four floors of Cisco’s office creates a cutting-edge workspace for employees, and offers facilities managers clear visibility on operations. The system at the RBC Waterpark Place integrates seamlessly with the PoE IT setup.
The luminaires provide much more than simply illuminated office space—they are a portal to data, energy savings, sustainability, and personal comfort. Outfitted with sensors and connected to the base building’s IT network, each light fixture is uniquely identified by an IP address, allowing it to be individually monitored, managed, and controlled. Building managers can mine data pertaining to workspaces captured by the sensors in the luminaires to optimize building performance. Employees also can achieve maximum comfort by controlling their lighting environment.
With this transformational advancement, skill sets for the consulting and contracting community are being enhanced. The requirement for IT and security knowledge is also accelerating development of new educational programs and career opportunities.
The Internet of Everything at work
The lighting system at the Cisco office collects data from 700 PoE-enabled luminaires equipped with sensors to capture temperature, light level, and human activity for optimizing user comfort. Lighting management software allows managers to monitor and manage each light fixture via a dashboard application. The system also stores data over time, allowing managers to assess occupancy patterns and optimize lighting operations based on historical trends and findings, and opens up avenues for innovation into data-rich applications.
Operating the lighting system is seamless, with easy visibility to each fixture, allowing facility managers to respond to maintenance issues more quickly and lowering labour costs. This is the IoT at work, connecting people with processes and data.
Cisco estimates that the 1400 LED luminaires alone will realize 50 per cent energy savings over traditional fluorescent lighting during the fixture’s lifetime—LED lights last significantly longer than traditional, non-LED lights, leading to less lightbulb replacements and waste. They also use less energy to produce the same light output. With the connected lighting operations in place, Cisco expects to save up to 80 per cent, based on
the technology and enhanced lighting controls. The additional energy savings will be realized through smart-sensor-based operations and the integration of the lighting system with the building management system (BMS) using industry standard protocols such as BACnet—
a data communication protocol for building automation and control networks.
In November 2015, Waterpark was awarded the most innovative workplace by CoreNet, a nonprofit organization awarding and recognizing corporate real estate practices. The project offers a glimpse into the kinds of office environments lighting and IT companies can create through collaboration.
Creating smarter workplaces
For indoor location services, the PoE luminaires have visible light communication (VLC) technology built in. This does not require any new infrastructure or additional capital expenditure other than just the lights—
a positive experience for everyone who has tried these services. It allows for very accurate positioning and provides a stable performance with no latency at all. Via the VLC technology, the luminaires continuously transmit their IP address. These signals are then captured by the employee’s smartphone, providing for
hyper-accurate indoor positioning, in addition to energy efficient luminaires. Waterpark also showcases how indoor location services can drive ease and efficiency.
Smartphone apps can be location-aware through VLC. The PoE luminaires act as location beacons, each sending a unique code through VLC, recognizable by the smartphone’s front camera. Similar to the map apps on a smartphone, indoor positioning is basically an “indoor GPS” pinpointing your location in the office. Through the app, employees can adjust the climate and lighting at their desks, or at specific locations in the office such as a meeting room, as needed throughout the day.
At some of the Waterpark’s floors, occupants can see their position on a map of the building and easily find their way to Cisco’s Innovation Centre or a specific meeting room. Cisco is also considering several additional location-based services based on an indoor positioning system that will build on the current one. For example, the system could enable an employee to find the nearest empty meeting room, unoccupied desk, or colleagues.
The indoor positioning software can also work with (lighting-powered) Bluetooth low-energy beacons. The development of indoor positioning technology provides a wealth of possible applications for commercial lighting systems, including retail and shopping malls. The system is already in use at several retail chains in Europe for accurate product finding and location-based promotions. Imagine a shopper using the downloaded app and being provided services and offers relevant to their current location. The possibilities are virtually endless for architects looking to create intuitive, comfortable, and energy efficient spaces.
It comes down to innovation and imagining the limitless applications as technologies evolve. With lighting informing owners of maintenance requests, occupancy trends, temperature control, and more, offices become more efficient, sustainable, and comfortable. This is an exciting time to be part of the IoT. With revolutionary technology like connected lighting systems, the future of workspaces looks bright.
William R MacGowan, P.Eng., CEM, is Cisco Systems’ director of digital buildings. He has considerable knowledge in the areas of converged building systems, enterprise integration, and the delivery of high-performance business value. MacGowan holds an honours degree from Queens University (Kingston, Ont.) in electrical engineering. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Tony D’Alesio is director of sales (commercial, industrial, and healthcare markets—Canada)
at Philips Lighting. He has more than 20 years of experience in the digital controls domain and has worked on various industry technologies capable of delivering data connectivity and energy savings. D’Alesio is responsible for bringing new solutions to market so clients can achieve their smart building goals via connected lighting technologies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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