Lighting Controls: Facility Managers Should Understand, Educate Occupants
Lighting controls can be tricky to master during installation and commissioning. Sometimes the trickiest aspect of all is helping occupants understand how to best use them.
A recent installation in a new, 500-room hotel in Naperville, Ill., includes 17 meeting rooms, three reception rooms, a restaurant, lobby space, and more — and that's just the ground floor.
"In just that floor, we installed more than 700 lighting control devices behind the drywall," Mor says.
The sophistication of the system was required, in part, to give various occupants stepped control.
"A caterer basically needs an on/off switch for lighting during food prep and set up," Mor says. "But an audio visual company who's putting on productions can control every lamp, every device on the floor, if they need to."
Similarly, Mor says that to provide maximum lighting control in office space, there should be several presets available to occupants, but that complete control of lighting should reside with the facility manager.
"To do so, facility managers need to remember all the users of the space and how they might interact with the lighting," Mor says. "It takes understanding those users — like cleaning crews who turn all the lights on in a school and leave them on. Or getting to know off-hour maintenance crew schedules."
Proper communication with occupants is also vital, says Leonard. For the retrofit of his 1930s-era building, he sent out "friendly communications to let them know what is happening, and let them know existing switches will be removed."
He also showed employees where the override switches would be located and how they worked. Liberty Mutual turns off half the lights in the building at 6 p.m., and the remainder at 9:30 p.m.
Override switches are something facility managers and lighting consultants alike seem to agree on.
Mor used them in office space several years ago.
"The lighting control system divided the space based upon departments," he says. "Individual departments specified their start and stop dates, and we gave them one-hour overrides. You know, it's the only space I drive by after work where the lights are off all the time."
Loren Snyder, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management, is a writer who specializes in facility issues. He was formerly managing editor of Building Operating Management.