A facility manager can be instrumental at several critical points in implementing an advanced lighting control system.
It is essential that the communication be two-way. Once a system is selected and installed, it's important to educate people about its use. Make sure they understand what to expect based on automatic operation (based on schedules, photosensors, etc.). Explain how manual/local controls work, and when automatic functions take over. The facility manager can serve as the bridge between the vendors/installers and the occupants in providing brief scheduled training sessions, or published information about what the system or components do.
Without this education and buy-in, occupants may be wary about a system that they don't understand. It's common for occupants to defeat lighting controls because they don't think the controls are working, or they don't like what they are doing. Have you ever seen a wallbox occupancy sensor or photosensor with a piece of tape covering the lens? If you spend a lot of money to purchase and install a complex system, it's important to get buy-in from your staff.
In case it's not yet obvious, advanced lighting control systems are complex. There are huge potential rewards as far as energy savings, reduction of maintenance costs and occupant satisfaction. However, don't go it alone — get the technical help you need to sift through the myriad topologies, features, and benefits. Then go out and control your controls.
Steven Mesh is a lighting designer and principal of Lighting Education & Design based in San Francisco. He has taught classes in lighting design and controls for the past 30 years and is a former regional vice president of the Illuminating Engineering Society. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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