The lights go on…the lights go off

The lighting system in our office is complex and has been a challenge. Our goal was to employ a highly efficient lighting system for our office space that would reduce energy usage. The spaces in our office are 95% daylit because of the amount of glazing, so it is important that we take advantage of this asset.

The lights are controlled by several different technologies:
•    Photoelectric eyes measure the amount of sun coming into the space and increase or decrease the fluorescent lighting to balance the light levels in the office.
•    Occupancy/motion sensors turn lights on and off in spaces, depending on occupancy.
•    Managed lighting, by lighting controls company LC&D, sets the lighting levels on a schedule based on the time of day or night. LC&D is continuing to tweak the system, so patience is in order for all of us.

The availability of adjustments in time, light level and schedule will take time to work out and have proven to be a challenge to our team. When the photoelectric eyes measure enough natural light in a space, they signal the lights to turn off. Yet this sometimes still feels dark. A few people have reported coming into work on the weekend or at night to a building that is fully lit. Our amazing exterior sunshades automatically close to block the sun in the afternoon, and these sometimes cover the light sensors, which will then turn on the lights on a sunny day.

These are all kinks that will be worked out over time, but as it is our first time with this technology, there is a learning curve figuring out the glitches. In our old office, people customized the lighting above their desks by hooking or unhooking the fluorescent lights in the drop ceiling. In Terry Thomas, employees have flexibility with task lights at their desks if they need more light, but most choose not to use them.

It is, however, a real treat to work in a space fully lit by natural light. It feels like you are outside. The natural daylighting continues the connection we have with the outdoors, an experience we did not have in the old office.

-Mina Ghanaie, LEED AP

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