Case study: Integrating lighting, HVAC in a lab

A new lab building uses a hybrid wired and wireless approach to optimize controls.

By Sagar Rao, Affiliated Engineers Inc.; and Angi Xanders, Pivotal Lighting Design March 30, 2017

As stricter energy codes continue to be introduced and enforced, the design and construction of high-performance buildings are becoming standard practice in some parts of the country. A recently completed laboratory building in central California implemented a network control system using a hybrid wired and wireless approach by combining lighting, daylighting, and HVAC zones to optimize controls.

Within a large open-office area in the building, long suspended indirect/direct LED luminaires are controlled in 8-ft increments with integrated sensors in each section. These sensors not only control the lighting but also the variable air volume boxes that are part of the mechanical system. As a result, the lighting and temperature control within these larger spaces have become more granular, only controlling the specific areas that are detected as being occupied.

While the daylit sections of the open office may ultimately require greater cooling in the summer, this becomes offset by the savings of reduced electric lighting. Smaller spaces are managed as single-zone areas, particularly those that are infrequently occupied, such as break rooms and small conference rooms. Space types that fall between those extremes, such as private offices, can be tailored to a specific occupant’s preferred temperature and illuminance level.

No space size or type is excluded from this use of integrated network lighting and HVAC-control technology. With appreciable benefits to occupants and continuing reduction in cost through further market adoption and competition, these strategies appear to be increasingly applicable across building types.

Sagar Rao is a building performance consultant with Affiliated Engineers IncAngi Xanders is a senior lighting designer at Pivotal Lighting Design.