Thursday 21st May saw Lux magazine host their Lighting for Large Estates conference (http://lightingforlargeestates.com) and I was fortunate to be invited to sit on a chaired panel debate about the ease of using of lighting controls. The take home messages from previous sessions for me were about the manufacturers really putting themselves in the position of the tenant, landlord or facilities manager who has to deal with the long term issues surrounding their lighting products and services. David Mason from Skanska, talked about their requirement for lighting sensors to be pre-commissioned and easy for anybody to install regardless of skill, something we could all learn from as a best practice starting point. Ease of commissioning is something the manufacturers seem to have previously missed in their products; their Clients foot a £1,000 bill for every call out, hardly sustainable for a company’s balance sheets or payback periods.
In terms of the control discussion, I posited the possibility of returning to manual lighting controls as the automation industry seems to be providing more and more (unnecessary?) features and exponentially thinking less and less about the people that use these spaces. So we end up with expensive and often complicated installations that do not work for the people using the space. How is this sustainable? A flexible approach is required and key to this as highlighted in Dan Lister’s lighting methods in practice, is to actually spend time with the people you are designing the lighting for – ask them questions and be open minded to finding new and unique solutions. From Jonathan Rush’s example I learnt that by creating physical models and prototyping what the space will look and feel like you can really review the designs carefully by spending the time upfront planning and designing. I think the lighting manufacturers could learn a lot from academia and designers by spending their time observing and listening to what people require rather than assuming they are developing the latest gadget. It could turn out to be the link to new market places they crave, by extracting lighting and occupancy use data, both quantitative and qualitative, so that it forms part of the rich and diverse understanding of how we habitually use our buildings.
Written by Katharine van Someren