Codes & Standards: Lighting
As one of the founding teams in the league that would become the NFL, the Chicago Bears are steeped in traditions that run deeper than most. The roster of retired Bears jerseys on display in the lobby of the team headquarters is awe-inspiring, the names timeless: Blanda, Butkus, Ditka, Payton, Sayers. The faithful converge on Soldier Field every home Sunday, win or lose, to shiver in the open air as the wind howls off Lake Michigan. Even the stadium itself, until recently a crumbling Greek temple with peeling plaster and questionable plumbing, has been part of the team’s mystique for more than 30 years. In such a franchise, change does not come easy.
In the world of fire suppression technology, the sophistication of fire detectors and control panels and the sustainability of fire extinguishing agents are currently topping the list of recent technological advancements. “If a detector senses a fire and creates an alarm, the panel can not only tell that a potential fire exists, it can also indicate when, where and how big, and it also tracks the history of the event,” explains Joseph Behnke, manager of technical services engineered systems for Tyco Safety Product’s fire suppression business, Marinette, Wis. Not only that, but the latest control panels are not only faster and smaller, but they offer increased monitoring ability with graphic displays and text messages, according to David N. Holst, department manager for plumbing and fire protection systems, Bala Consulting Engineers, Philadelphia. “These panels offer more programming and connectivity options so that the extinguishing systems for multiple rooms, buildings or even locations can all report to one central panel,” explains Holst. With regards to clean agents, Jeff LaSalle, P.E., chief fire protection engineer for EwingCole, Philadelphia, explains that the phasing out of Halon 1301 has resulted in a significant increase in the number of viable alternatives. “As a number of these agents are considered to be quite sustainable, this gives the facility owner or manager the peace of mind that he or she will only have to purchase the system once, eliminating a costly retrofit due to future environmental restrictions,” says Behnke. At the same time, LaSalle points out that the increased number of agents can sometimes be confusing, but it is a small price to pay for providing engineers, designers and owners with more options. Elsewhere on the fire suppression new technology front, special purpose sprinkler heads and heads that provide greater coverage are being developed, says Holst. And while it is pretty hard to improve on the technology of pipe, there is a continuing attempt to make it stronger, lighter and cheaper, he adds.
For more than three decades, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has been a leading voice for environmental advocacy in the US. When the group decided to open a regional office in Santa Monica, California, they knew it had to be environmentally friendly. The building, named for Robert Redford, actor and long-time environmentalist, would combine cutting-edge technologies and materials with energy-efficient architecture to create a showcase for green-building design and promote environmental activism. The building, extensively remodeled by the NRDC and opened in November 2003, pushes the envelope for environmental design and construction techniques.
Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering has installed the first Internet-controllable lighting laboratory in the world, based on the digital addressable lighting interface (DALI). The DALI interface allows users from any PC and any location to control any lamp in this laboratory with a web browser; observe the effects with a web camera; and remotely monitor energy use and time-of-day use. Most recently, the control system was on display at Lightfair 2004 in Las Vegas.