This month, we will explore the role that energy-saving lighting controls play in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a net-zero-energy office building. Lighting design by Rachel Petro, Lighting Designer for RNL. Photography by Ron Pollard Photography and Frank Ooms Photography. Control manufacturers/products: Cooper Controls’ GreenGate Microset Occupancy Sensors, Sensor Switch’s PIR/Microphonic Ceiling Mounted Sensors (private offices), Douglas Lighting Controls’ W2000 System.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory campus houses the nation’s largest net-zero energy office building. The 222,000 square-foot Research Support Facility is pursuing LEED Platinum certification and is designed to consume 50% less energy than a baseline code-compliant building.
The challenge was to design lighting and control systems to complement a day-lit building that consumes as little energy as practical to provide a safe and pleasant working environment, inside and out, within a conservative budget.
Daylight harvesting is utilized in all spaces with daylight contribution. Public spaces are programmed for manual on with time-clock off sweeps. Enclosed spaces are vacancy controlled with occupancy sensors.
The building’s 60-foot width and east-west orientation allows for full daylight penetration. Detailed control zones were implemented to maximize potential energy savings; small switch zones overlap local and
global daylight harvesting zones.
Efficient dimmable, direct/indirect luminaires, compliment exposed structure while running parallel to the windows for optimal daylight harvest zoning.
Private office furniture partitions were integrated with wall-box occupancy sensors, programmed for manual on, control independent 8-foot luminaire sections.
Local photocells provide dimming daylight harvesting, while global photocells provide on/off control for when dimming isn’t enough.
LED site lighting is aggressively controlled for optimal energy savings; accent lights are on during regularly occupied hours of darkness only, full cut-off area lighting is controlled at low-medium-high output levels by a combination of photocell, time-clock, and occupancy sensors.
Occupancy sensors were integrated into the area poles to control pathways, reducing every-other pole to low and off when unoccupied.
The resulting facility is striking, utilizing light only when and where needed, minimizing energy consumption, maximizing occupants’ experience. The control system greatly optimizes performance over the
connected load, resulting in an approximate daily average usage of less than 0.08 W/SF, far surpassing baseline energy code standards.
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