CCI carries lighting controls from Blue Ridge Technologies. Their energy management solutions have presented a fantastic business opportunity for many control contractors interested in branching out into lighting controls. We recently had a chance to catch up with Ron Poskevich, VP of Sales & Marketing at Blue Ridge Technologies, to talk about the company, how their products help save energy, and how control contractors can learn more about lighting controls.
1) Tell us a little about Blue Ridge Technologies.
Blue Ridge Technologies is a privately owned company based in Marietta, Georgia that designs and manufactures proven energy management solutions with a strong focus on Unified Lighting Control. Our solutions complete the Building Automation System and empower unified control, energy management, and comfort.
Our unique approach, delivered through local controls experts, ensures that these solutions are delivered not merely sold. Our Wide-Open design and technology platform offers unparalleled versatility and it frees our customers to utilize preferred system components producing the best value and support.
2) Why are lighting controls important?
Lighting controls are important for many reasons. Lighting controls allow building owners to control the hours of operation of the connected lighting and plug load. Regardless of how efficient the load is it wastes energy when it is on at the wrong time or is at a higher level than desired. If you had the most efficient automobile you would not let it run overnight or always press the accelerator to the floor.
In addition, the state building code requirements for lighting control are getting more complex. Gone are the days when an engineer could just design in an occupancy sensor and check the box. Now there are requirements for automatic off, manual on, lighting reduction, limited occupant override, zoned daylight harvesting, plug load control, and load shedding. And these are just the base line requirements.
These changes in the market are creating an opportunity for local knowledgeable controls experts to deliver solutions that are supported locally.
3) What is the difference between standalone, gateway and unified lighting controls?
Blue Ridge Technologies designs and manufactures Unified Lighting Control solutions to fully leverage the promise of BACnet.
Stand-alone systems are just that – stand-alone. The HVAC and lighting control systems are separate, and there is no possibility to share information, integrate front ends, or combine infrastructure.
Gateway integration is a good way to bring a legacy system into the BAS, but there are limitations, increased complexity and added costs when a gateway is used. Gateways have a limited number of points that can be shared, so when you need more points you add another gateway. Gateways add complexity because there are two front -ends, lighting and HVAC. This is why many gateway integration installations are limited to read only points. Going beyond read only points requires a lot more work and well-planned command priorities.
Unified Lighting Control eliminates the limitations, complexities, and added costs of integration by making the lighting controllers an integral part of the BAS system. The lighting controllers reside directly on the same BACnet network as the HVAC controllers. The front end for lighting and HVAC is the BAS.
4) Give some examples of how lighting controls can be used, and what type of savings they can lead to.
U.S. Department of Energy data indicates that light and HVAC consume over 60% of the energy in commercial buildings. Both stand-alone and Unified Lighting Control can achieve basic energy savings and typically payback in less than 3 years. Unlike stand-alone, Unified Lighting Control can employ more advanced control sequences to achieve better savings, often accomplished through simple programming changes.
One example being employed is extending the use of occupancy sensors to automatically control lights and HVAC in unoccupied classrooms. For example; when an area goes unoccupied and the BAS is in occupied mode the lights automatically switch off and the temperature is changed to its reset value. Depending upon the application, additional energy saving measures can be taken by decreasing airflow or deciding to bring in less outside air.
Common classroom complaints with occupancy sensors can also be addressed by utilizing the BAS mode, occupied or unoccupied, to automatically adjust occupancy sensors time-out values. Increasing the value when the BAS is in occupied mode can reduce false-off complaints, while decreasing the value in the unoccupied mode can lower energy usage.
In addition, classrooms can employ a manual-on control strategy for lighting and HVAC to save energy between the occupied start time of the BAS, and the time when the room is actually occupied. Instead of the lights switching on at 6am when the BAS changes to occupied mode, activation of the override switch turns the lights on and initiates a temperature change from reset to set point.
5) What is the best way for a control contractor to start incorporating lighting controls into their services?
The first step is to install it somewhere that will allow you to learn from the experience. Lighting control has a lot of similarities to HVAC controls, but it also has some big differences. Blue Ridge Technologies has a Steps to Success document (PDF) on its website to help start the process.
Interested in learning more about Blue Ridge Technologies lighting controls? Contact CCI, or give us a call at 781-335-8353.