With increasing frequency, lighting control systems are tasked to interoperate with other building systems such as building automation systems (BAS) to share information and automate building functionality. Ensuring communication and smooth interoperability is called integration, a potentially challenging undertaking during a project. This is the topic of a new Education Express course developed for the Lighting Controls Association by C. Webster Marsh, HLB Lighting Design.
“The successful designer will be able to identify the intent of building automation, how to integrate a lighting control system with other systems, and provide a comprehensive sequence of operations,” said Marsh.
Integration entails ensuring systems can communicate and may also include sharing hardware, such as a single touchscreen used to operate lighting, A/V, and window shades in a conference room; an occupancy sensor signaling the lighting, HVAC, plug load, and security systems; or an access control triggering lighting to turn ON or OFF. This provides potential benefits of optimized energy savings, custom control capabilities, a very granular degree of building responsiveness to occupants, data sharing for Internet of Things (IoT) strategies, and cost efficiencies (fewer sensors). Drivers include energy codes, net-zero design, and the IoT.
Traditionally, BAS manufacturers have not offered a high degree of lighting control, and so lighting control manufacturers have had to develop devices and services that enable their systems to be integrated with BAS. Some manufacturers offer complete BAS designs with lighting control included, though these are often proprietary systems limited to a single manufacturer, according to Marsh.
“When working on a project that has a BAS, the lighting controls designer should identify the needs of the BAS and whether their system should be connected to it,” Marsh said. “Lighting controls often should connect if the BAS will reduce and monitor energy use. While controlled LED lighting is low in energy consumption, it can represent a significant number of the devices, including occupancy and daylight sensors that can be used by the BAS.”
In limited applications, such as when using an occupancy sensor to control both lighting and plug loads or where a touchscreen is used to control multiple systems in a conference room, integration may be relatively straightforward. At a higher level, however, it tends to become less intuitive and more complex, and may require trial and error during installation and commissioning.
As a result, more sophisticated projects can benefit from a specialist called an Integrator, a professional who takes ownership of the connection between systems and oversees installation. The provision, responsibilities, and qualifications of the Integrator should be specified by the designer, Marsh advised.
There are three main types of integrators, who may provide integration at one of the three main levels of local device, multisystem, or building automation integration:
• Lighting Control Systems Integrator (LCSI): Integrators who train and oversee contractors on installation; start up, program, and commission the system; and train the owner. Some integrators are also product distributors and only provide these services when they supply the system.
• Manufacturer-Provided Integrator (MPI): typically, factory-certified technicians provided by the manufacturer when theirs is the primary control system installed in the project.
• Multi-Systems Integration Consultant (MSI Consultant): consultant who helps create the bid documents for a project by overseeing all integration.
“An integrator oversees the project and makes sure that all the separate systems and disciplines are connected correctly so that a BAS can effectively communicate throughout,” Marsh said. “The BAS oversees the various systems that it is connected to and follows a sequence of operations (SOO) designed to provide an automatic and seamless experience throughout the building. The SOO should be the guiding document created at the beginning of the BAS design.”
Successful integration depends on identifying owner requirements, developing a clear SOO—which provides a roadmap for the system’s functionality—and clearly communicating responsibilities to ensure all integration points are satisfied. A coordination meeting representing all disciplines involved in the BAS is recommended and with the goals of identifying scope, reviewing the space to identify integration points, writing the SOO, and identifying vendors and protocols that will satisfy all requirements. While it is not the BAS designer’s responsibility to specify everything, it is to ensure all disciplines can connect to the BAS.
As buildings become more unified and the IoT continues its emergence, integration is rapidly becoming a staple of BAS design and installation. Designers of lighting control systems should be aware of all challenges involved in ensuring their systems will integrate properly to meet the owner’s needs and design intent.
To learn more, click the Education Express tab and take EE115: Integration and Building Automation, which explores the above and many other topics in detail. You can also complete the quiz at the end for education credit.