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In Areas Where Guests Rarely Venture, Put Lighting Controls to Work for You


NATIONAL REPORT—In the areas of your hotel that guests rarely see—offices, kitchens, corridors, stairwells, storage rooms—there is no need to keep the lights burning 24 hours a day. Yes, in some hotels there is activity in those spaces around the clock but certainly not constantly. During those times when workers are not present, why not employ lighting control systems to turn out the lights, save energy and reduce costs? Inevitably, power plants will not have to work so hard, which means less pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Carlos Villialobos, senior product manager for Wattstopper/Legrand in Santa Clara, Calif., says that before implementing any type of lighting control system in a space, one must understand how the space is used. How often are people present? Also understand the characteristics of the space. A utility room, for example, may have moving parts that can falsely trigger sensors. Villialobos adds that it is also important to be aware of energy codes and how much money you are prepared to spend.

According to Jon Gensler, assistant marketing manager with Lutron Electronics Co., Inc., Coopersburg, Pa., lighting controls such as switches, dimmers, timers and occupancy sensors all deal with “on” and “off” situations and everything in between. In back-of-the-house areas, most lighting tends to be fluorescent.

“These spaces are typically not controlled,” Gensler says. “There are a number of strategies that can be employed. The first and easiest one is occupancy sensors, especially in office spaces. They can turn lights off five minutes after someone leaves. When someone reenters that space, they have to turn the switch on.”

Gensler says adding an occupancy sensor is an easy step and can eliminate up to about 15 percent of lighting energy costs. Lutron offers three varieties of sensors: wall switch, wall mount and ceiling mount. According to Lutron, lighting controls may help contribute up to 20 points in five of six of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit categories.

Take Advantage of Natural Light

Photosensors also can work with lighting control systems to dim lighting in spaces based on the amount of natural light available. Salt Lake City, Utah-based LiteTouch, Inc., for example, offers a DayLight Harvesting system that dims down artificial lighting as natural lighting increases. Light sensors monitored on the ceiling measure the amount of light and send wired signals to the control system to adjust lighting to one of eight levels. DayLight Harvesting can work with shading systems to automatically block light when there is too much of it.

Time clocks that coordinate all lighting systems together also can be beneficial. Lutron’s EcoSystem consists of digital electronic dimming ballasts, controls, and environmental sensors. Sensors and controls connect to ballasts via low voltage wires. Facility managers can configure EcoSystem with a wireless programmer. EcoSystem works together with Lutron’s Quantum, a whole-building light and energy management system.

As mentioned, an occupancy sensor can exist in something as simple as a wall switch. Watt Stopper/Legrand, Santa Clara, Calif., offers a commercial wall switch that incorporates passive infrared (PIR), ultrasonic or dual technology. Dual technology incorporates both PIR and ultrasonic technologies.

When shopping around for a lighting control system vendor for back-of-the-house areas, another one to consider is Sensor Switch, Inc., Wallingford, Conn. The company’s nLight system integrates time-based lighting control with sensor-based control. While networking together sensors, power packs, photocells, and wall switches, nLight provides “global” control via SensorView lighting management software. Like Wattstopper/Legrand, Sensor Switch offers sensors that incorporate dual technology: PIR and ultrasonic.

No matter what type of lodging operation you have, be sure to incorporate switches, dimmers, timers and occupancy sensors in non-guest areas to reduce lighting power costs. As you do that, you may even reduce lighting-related cooling costs—a win-win for every owner.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.