Advanced Wireless Lighting System Implementation at UCSB

By Jordan Sager, LEED Program Manager, Facilities Management, UC Santa Barbara

The technological innovation behind advanced or “smart” lighting control systems pairs software-based, fixture-by-fixture controllability with granular occupancy and daylight sensing to optimize the efficiency of artificial lighting in countless space types. A function historically accomplished using zone-level relay panels and vacancy sensors, software-based controls allow wireless networking, remote adjustment and a high degree of flexibility. Considering the inherent dimmability of LED lighting, which is now cost-competitive with fluorescent technologies for many applications, lighting levels that respond to ambient light and vacancy at the individual fixture level are possible using advanced lighting control systems (ALCS).

In mid-2013, UC Santa Barbara's Utility & Energy Services division partnered with the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) to install a wireless ALCS in UCSB's Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building. The CLTC, based at UC Davis, works with designers, manufacturers, end users, utilities, government agencies and other entities to conduct prototype and product testing, technology demonstrations and case studies. CLTC staff assisted with funding, project scoping, system design, and initial commissioning of the system, which combined a full LED light fixture retrofit with the ALCS implementation to create a “best-practice” interior lighting installation. Post-installation monitoring data indicate total system electrical energy savings of above 80% as compared with the previously existing linear T8 fluorescent fixtures without controls.

The success of the ALCS demonstration project at UCSB has, in large part, led to the campus’ move to develop and implement smart lighting control systems in 25 additional campus buildings, beginning with corridor spaces. Corridors, which are often unoccupied and lit to full fixture output level, present significant potential for energy savings, and the question of just how much savings is one that the campus is working to answer empirically with the help of the CLTC and the California Institute for Energy and the Environment. By using data loggers to collect occupancy data for major buildings on the UCSB and UCSF campuses, the collaboration hopes to demonstrate that ALCS projects in these types of spaces achieve much greater savings than previously documented. The findings will be applied to savings calculation assumptions in order to allow building owners across the state to claim more favorable utility incentive rates and increase the rate of adoption for ALCS projects.