Whether you're considering lighting control systems, LED lighting or another cost saving solution, a bigger picture perspective is required when weighing the benefits of energy saving building technology versus its often higher material costs.
There are three main factors to consider:
- Initial installation / labor cost savings
- Reduction in maintenance costs (and the disruption it causes)
- Lifetime energy cost savings
There is also a big shift in the real estate market that warrants consideration; the marketability of 'green buildings'. The investments in the green building market has dramatically increased in recent years. These buildings offer tenants energy-efficient, eco-friendly and healthy offices or living spaces with lower operating cost. Aside from these altruistic benefits, more investors opting for real estate that meets current energy efficiency standards so that they can reap the benefits of higher rents and lower risk premiums.
A new study just released by Clanton Associates reveals significant cost savings using wireless dimming systems. The study commissioned by Daintree Networks, compares six different lighting control retrofit scenarios for a circa 1970s office space. As you would expect, the fully wireless dimming scenario delivered the highest level of energy savings. The study also found that the higher initial equipment costs were offset by the reduced labor associated in typical wired installations.
Cost of Lighting Retrofits: This graph shows ten-year life-cycle costs for six lighting control retrofit options for a circa 1970s office building in Los Angeles, benchmarked against the first option. Source: Daintree Networks
Energy savings for the two wireless scenarios (full and partial dimming) were comparable to that of wired systems with similar capabilities, with the most advanced systems saving 49 percent over an ASHRAE 90.1-2007 baseline and 35 percent over California's Title 24-2008 efficiency standard. Also worth noting was the discovery that advanced control systems can compensate for less than optimal lighting layouts.
While this study was clearly focused on retrofit solutions, the findings in this study are also applicable for designers considering control options for newly constructed spaces. In today's competitive, new construction market with margins being so tight, it's tempting to lead with a traditional wired control solution for its lower initial material cost. But higher labor costs for running pipe and wire will soon wash out any initial savings on material.
Clanton Associates study co-author, Dane Sanders contends the additional long-term benefits of installing a networked, addressable system may far outweigh the first cost and energy costs.
The full report is available at www.daintree.net/wireless-study.