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DesignLights Consortium Issues Report on Networked Lighting Controls Interoperability

A report published today by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) illustrates the benefits of increased interoperability of networked lighting controls (NLC) for solid-state lighting manufacturers, electric utilities, contractors, building operators and other stakeholders.

Interoperability, defined as the ability to exchange actionable information between two or more building systems, “is the key enabler for unlocking benefits from cross-system operation and optimization,” according to “Interoperability for Networked Lighting Controls”, a report funded by Natural Resources Canada.

The report focuses on three distinct use cases chosen based on stakeholder support, technical feasibility, energy savings potential, and the ability to deliver value in the next three to five years.

  • External systems integration – for example, using NLC building occupancy data to inform HVAC operation or to optimize car dispatch by elevator control systems;
  • Load shedding/demand response – for example, real-time dispatching and reporting of lighting energy data between NLCs and another system such as a utility or building energy management system;
  • Energy monitoring – for example, reporting NLC energy data to a utility efficiency program to support incentives and verify savings.

“This report provides new insight about the importance of NLC interoperability for energy savings and other value-added benefits, as well as the barriers associated with achieving greater interoperability,” DLC Executive Director and CEO Christina Halfpenny said. “We also view this as a jumping off point for lighting industry stakeholders to collaborate and make progress toward the recommended interventions outlined in the report.”

Among proposed changes in the DLC’s draft Networked Lighting Control System Technical Requirements 5 (NLC5) is a multi-year plan addressing system interoperability (including energy monitoring features of NLC systems). Introducing requirements that set the stage for interoperable systems is expected to make NLCs more attractive and valuable to commercial and industrial customers who may fear being locked into single-vendor proprietary systems. Following a stakeholder comment period that concludes on May 29, the DLC will issue its final NLC5 policy in June.

For various stakeholder groups, the benefits of NLC interoperability are many and varied.  For manufacturers, interoperability standards can lead to reduced product development time and cost and help to leverage utility energy efficiency incentive programs. Meanwhile, interoperability can help utilities deploy scalable efficiency programs for NLCs with streamlined processes to verify energy savings. For stakeholders such as contractors and end users, increased interoperability will lead to better and lower cost outcomes and more practical energy usage data.

“Based on this report, various stakeholders, including lighting designers, engineers, architects, distributors, contractors, and facility managers, can frame design criteria and ask the right questions when specifying interoperability related to NLC systems,” the report states.

Report authors add that, “Interoperability can improve outcomes for utilities, building owners, building operators and other important stakeholders with some key innovations,” while noting that it will be up to stakeholders “with the most to gain” to drive greater adoption of NLC interoperability. In addition, “industry standards will be essential” to realizing benefits such as those outlined in the example use cases.

The report recommends more than a dozen supportive interventions that could speed improvement of NLC interoperability, including actions such as manufacturers publicly documenting product integrations; standards development organizations creating a standard for shared occupancy status data through an application program interface (API); trade associations publishing large-scale studies of cost savings resulting from integration; and utilities establishing automatic data intake processes through their energy efficiency programs to collect NLC energy data from program participants.   

For more information, register for the DLC’s “Achieving Interoperability for Networked Lighting Controls” report webinar at 2 pm ET on June 4.


Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »   posted on: 5/26/2020

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