This post is by Mike Anderiesz.
From a plant's root system to your own blood supply, networking is one of nature's basic laws that has transferred almost seamlessly into the digital world. These days, just about anything electronic works better when linked to other devices doing a similar job, and Microsoft is now successfully applying that principle to lighting.
Trials of a new Intelligent Lighting system began in summer 2013 at Microsoft's UK Headquarters in Thames Valley Park (TVP); a 5-building campus housing over 2000 staff. Like most buildings, lighting used to account for over 30% of TVP's energy consumption and 50% of its electricity usage, making ways to reduce this a key environmental priority for the whole business.
So what was the plan and how well did it work?
Out with the old
TVP used to be lit with a combination of standard fluorescent bulbs (FLB) and some compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). These fittings were connected to motion sensors; allowing whole banks of lights to switch off automatically but not individually and with no connection to the building management system to measure or control how efficiently they were working.
In with the new
Trialling the new system in TVP Building 2, new LED light fittings are networked together via in-floor servers, allowing building managers to programme them to run to schedule, dim when natural daylight is strong and switch on or off as people enter or leave the room. Even better, such events can now be logged, measured and reported with a high degree of accuracy.
So far, TVP’s intelligent lighting has been a tremendous success, achieving significant savings across the estate, including:
- Using 135,000KWH less electricity
- Producing 60,000 Kgs less CO2
- Drawing less power and lasting significantly longer
- Reducing operating temperatures through automatic dimming
Finally, by now being interfaced with the Building Management System, nearby air-conditioning systems can also be switched off when areas are unoccupied. It means office space can be used more efficiently by knowing exactly when meeting rooms, call booths and breakout areas are being lit (and therefore actually in use) leading to better, more efficient building and floor designs in future.
Shine a light
Intelligent Lighting is just one way that Microsoft has continued to slash its energy usage in recent years, following a 38% reduction between 2010 and 2012. From high efficiency water heaters, to more efficient cooling systems and redesigning voltage output across all its buildings, each innovation is part of the same ultimate goal; to achieve global carbon neutrality in 2014.