Krol explained the trend in today’s open
office design is to illuminate more evenly
throughout the space, not just where someone
sits. Often fewer ceiling fixtures are used or
needed. Closed office spaces may still have direct
overhead lighting, but now it is user-controllable.
“Lighting controls are becoming standard
components,” Krol said. “The ability to dial up
or dial down lighting density gives us the preci-
sion to avoid over-lighting.”
She added that design work sessions address what will work,
what might not, and at what cost, so everyone is on the same page.
“The electrical contractor is very helpful as we look at lighting-control systems and their capabilities, dimming protocols, and
ability to work with other systems,” Krol said. “Everyone comes
away learning something from another trade. These design
meetings also allow the EC to determine what runs might be
needed, what could be wireless, and so forth. Wireless is certainly growing in popularity.”
Avoiding the panacea mindset
Our connection to the outdoors is strong. We are drawn to
it because it benefits our mood, concentration and other factors. In new office design, IA Interior Architects strongly
advocates for better use of the light windows can provide.
Daylight harvesting is one technique to efficiently take
advantage of natural light while better managing artificial
lighting costs. However, it requires thought and precision.
“You need to understand how the lighting will feel when
the harvesting is occurring,” Krol said. “Discover that sweet
spot between daylight and artificial lighting to achieve
even light levels. Make step-dimming imperceptible to the
worker. For example, on brightly lit days with an open work
station and lighting fixtures running perpendicular from the
exterior wall, adjust your dimming down to between 0 to 10
percent. It will help even out the light as it extends into the
space. You will need a sensitive ballast.
“We’ve had clients run their lighting at 80 percent or
less without affecting worker performance. We will also
use light [color] wall finishes to effectively bounce light off
the ceiling and walls to further efficiency. Some clients have
seen a lighting controls cost return in as low as two years.”
Karl F. Johnson is a project manager for the California
Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE) at the Uni-
versity of California, Berkeley. The CIEE works to accelerate
energy efficiency and environmental solutions in line with
the goals of the California Energy Commission. Johnson is
with the buildings program, which supports a strategic light-
ing plan to help meet Title 24 state mandates of net-zero for
new residential construction by 2020 and commercial build-
ings by 2030. Within those mandates are retrofit goals, as well.
State universities are committed to be carbon-neutral by 2025.
“We both conduct R&D [research and development] and
demonstrate new technologies working with the manufactur-
ers,” Johnson said.
He has found that a network-enabled lighting system can
help meet demanding efficiency goals.
“I feel network controls are essential to meeting your
daylight-harvesting objectives,” Johnson said. “They offer
the biggest benefit to getting daylight harvesting right, beyond
initial commissioning after pre-installation and sensor place-
Associated Bank’s Chicago office deploys natural light,
high-efficiency fluorescents and LEDs.
“The electrical contractor is very
helpful as we look at lighting-control
systems and their capabilities,
dimming protocols, and ability to
work with other systems.”
–Ann Marie Krol, IA Interior Architects