Navigant Research Blog

Focus on Occupant Health and Well-Being Is Transforming the Commercial Buildings Market

— October 25, 2017

There has been growing interest and demand for occupant health and well-being in commercial buildings. Historically, occupant health policy was more limited and focused on preventing accidents and exposure to hazardous materials. In recent years, there has been a shift from the minimal safety requirements to improved health, increased productivity and performance, and enhanced occupant comfort.

Occupant health and well-being is a notable theme. The focus of the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo this November is human health. Educational sessions covering this area range from The Wellness/Energy Nexus – a Case for Effective Design (WELL Specific) to From Lab to Workplace: Research Advancing Health & Wellbeing.

Based on the human health educational track at the conference, it is clear that conference organizers and speakers alike view this as an essential building trend. It is a trend observed at Navigant Research and discussed as a driver in the upcoming report IoT for Lighting. I’m looking forward to attending Greenbuild to further explore this trend and learn about efforts to promote health and well-being through lighting and building technologies.

Motivation for Human Health in Buildings

A report from the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) 2013 Summit on Green Building & Human Health is titled Health is a Human Right. Green Building Can Help. While much in the development of green buildings and occupant health and well-being has progressed since 2013, the notion that health is a human right has not.

The trend to focus on human health and well-being within buildings can largely be attributed to attracting and maintaining talent in office workplaces, incentivizing students or shoppers to build environments that focus on their health. Many green building features, such as energy efficient lighting paired with more sophisticated controls, provide motivation via energy savings in addition to improving the health of building occupants. Beyond lighting, occupant health and well-being can be prioritized through improved indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and sound quality.

Promotion of WELL-Being through Standards and Certifications

Founded in 2013, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) is a public benefit organization driving the promotion of health and well-being in buildings. The WELL Building Standard, launched in 2014, is based on medical research that analyzes the connection between environmental health, behavioral factors, health outcomes, and demographic risk factors that affect health with the built environment. The WELL Standard covers seven core concepts (air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind) to create a flexible building standard.

Currently, there are pilot programs in progress across various areas, including multi-family residential buildings, education facilities, retail buildings, restaurants, and commercial kitchens. The aim of the pilot programs is to test and refine how WELL can best apply to different building and space types. The standard continues to evolve based on new evidence, and to incorporate new technologies. A WELL certification is a declaration of that building’s commitment to the prioritization of its inhabitants.

Certifications Setting an Example

The USGBC has incorporated the Integrative Process for Health Promotion in the LEED certification for new construction. Participants can earn credit by beginning in the pre-design phase to “achieve synergies that promote health across disciplines and building systems.” They can also work with a public health partner to help determine how to promote health and accomplish related sustainability goals.

While the USGBC and IWBI are not required across buildings and are voluntary certifications, the significance they place on human health in buildings is helping to promote these values and drive increased focus on these trends. These organizations can provide tools and resources for building owners and managers and can help drive the adoption of building elements focused on the health and well-being of building occupants.

 

Realizing the Potential of Street Lighting Networks

— July 27, 2017

Navigant Research expects 73 million connected street lights to be deployed globally by 2026. This will be an immense asset for cities able to use these smart nodes as part of an emerging city mesh of sensors and smart devices. However, while the potential of smart street lighting is clear, there are still several hurdles to faster adoption. As Richelle Elberg noted in a new Echelon-sponsored white paper, we must examine the complex issues around the network choices facing cities—and technical complexities are only part of the problem. The Echelon white paper and Navigant Research’s recent Smart Street Lighting for Smart Cities report both identify five key messages for cities as they consider their street lighting policy:

  • Consider street lighting upgrades as part of an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. Any city looking to deploy a street lighting network should at least have an outlined plan for how it will engage with the growth in the use of digital and IoT technologies for city operations and services. How do these developments fit with existing city development strategies? What are the priority local issues and what are the local assets that provide the starting point and make the plan distinct to the needs of this city?
  • Find new ways to collaborate across departments. The potential to add future services to a street lighting network means that coordination across city departments on procurement is essential. Restricting the procurement to the traditional concerns of the lighting department may limit the ability to realize future benefits. Coordination of networking requirements and procurement across multiple city departments—and even involvement of other stakeholders such as local utilities—should be considered.
  • Think about problems first. While there are a wide range of potential use cases for a multi-application network, not all will have the same priority. Just because many applications can be supported on a street lighting network does not mean that all will be equally important to all cities. As a leader of a successful smart city program recently said: “our secret is that we always start with a city problem not a technology.”
  • Understand the diversity of requirements. While integration across departments and the consolidation of requirements is a sensible approach, it is also important to realize that one approach will not satisfy all needs. Most cities are likely to require different communication solutions to address the span of smart city applications, from low risk Living Lab projects, to specific services applications such as street lighting and smart parking, to critical city systems for public safety. The future of city networking will be a hybrid.
  • Recognize that street lights are a city asset. In a world that depends on ubiquitous access to power and connectivity, the street lighting network is a valuable resource. In addition to providing a platform for new sensors and applications to improve the efficiency of city services, they can also be a source of new revenue. Street lighting poles are being used to extend cellular and Wi-Fi access, to integrate EV charging equipment, and as digital signage sites for advertisers.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Installing smart controls for street lighting at the same time as an LED upgrade program is a logical and cost-effective step to enhancing the value of the city lighting system. In 2017, smart street lights represent only about 2% of the installed base of street lights; there is still immense potential for better utilization of these valuable city assets.

Installed Base of Smart Street Lights by Region, World Markets: 2017-2026

(Source: Navigant Research)

For further detail on smart city applications, street lighting as a platform, and the relevant connectivity platforms, see the Navigant Research white paper, Smart Street Lighting as a Smart City Platform. The Executive Summary from the Smart Street Lighting for Smart Cities report is also available.

 

Mapping Smart City Applications to Smart Street Lighting Platforms

— June 28, 2017

City managers interested in smart street lighting applications today can choose among a multitude of technologies and vendors. Questions such as cost, functionality, useful life, and ability to accommodate other applications over time, however, can make the decision-making process overwhelming.

To provide guidance, Navigant Research performed a heatmap analysis in a study commissioned by smart street lighting vendor Echelon. The heatmap compares the characteristics of various narrowband, mediumband, and broadband network technologies with the performance and cost characteristics required by 10 different smart city applications. Network technology features such as costs, reliability, security, latency, and bandwidth, among others, were evaluated.

Smart City Platforms and Applications: Suitability Heatmap

(Source: Navigant Research)

The analysis indicated that for a balance of cost and functionality, the mediumband options, such as power line carrier (PLC) and radio frequency (RF) mesh technologies, offer several advantages. For basic lighting controls, there are several narrowband connectivity options that will work at a competitive price—but they are limited in terms of capacity for additional applications to be layered on top.

In contrast, broadband options such as point-to-multipoint RF solutions, public 3G or 4G networks, or Wi-Fi may be robust enough to handle even high bandwidth applications like closed circuit TV—but at a higher price. Wi-Fi—public access or private—may also bring higher security concerns to municipalities, as there are publicly available hacking tools for cracking Wi-Fi networks. Also, public access Wi-Fi may see its throughput constrained by citizens streaming video over their phones; this could impair the efficacy of higher speed applications such as smart traffic light controls or gunshot detection.

Advanced Controls Have Advantages

At the most basic level, lighting controls provide elementary features such as remote on-off control, dimming, and scheduling functions. There is also a wide range of advanced functions that can be enabled by intelligent controls, including energy monitoring and billing, performance monitoring, color controls, adaptive lighting, and emergency response.

Beyond the capabilities for advanced lighting controls, street lighting networks also have the potential to support a range of non-lighting applications: environmental/air quality monitoring, traffic monitoring, smart parking, and gunshot detection. An even wider range of applications may benefit from sharing the network infrastructure. These might include traffic light controls, smart waste management, public messaging/ digital signage, or high definition video surveillance.

New applications for smart street lighting platforms are emerging still. New ideas such as controlling sprinkler systems or controlling public restroom locks have been raised—and other new ideas are sure to emerge as connectivity becomes more ubiquitous.

Better Quality of Life

A growing number of cities globally are looking for ways to not only reduce their energy expenses, but also improve the efficiency of city operations and provide a better quality of life to their citizens. As such, the selection of the appropriate smart street lighting platform that meets both long-term goals and near-term constraints should be given careful consideration.

For further detail on smart city applications, street lighting as a platform, and the relevant connectivity platforms discussed herein, see the Smart Street Lighting as a Smart City Platform white paper, available here. Navigant’s Navigating the Energy Transformation white paper, available here, also provides a related discussion of smart city solutions as a platform in the Energy Cloud era.

 

Smart Street Lights Shine on Further Advancements in Lighting Innovation

— June 9, 2017

Smart street lighting is growing as a platform for smart city applications, and cities are increasingly seeing the benefits of smart street lighting deployment. The rise of LEDs, in large part due to their increased energy savings, longer life, and declining prices, has launched the connected street lighting market. Companies are working together to help drive innovation and continue the momentum of smart street lighting and smart city adoption.

Driving Innovation

Even with the benefits of LEDs and increased control and data available through a smart street lighting system, there are still hurdles to overcome for widespread adoption. The Smart Cities Council, a global consortium of smart city experts and companies, is working to promote sustainable smart cities that provide clean and healthy living conditions and high quality jobs. The Smart Cities Council has more than 120 members and is continually expanding its presence. In May, Telensa, a specialist in connected street lighting, joined the Smart Cities Council as a North America Lead Partner. The company will work toward the goals of the organization of advancing the development of smart cities. Lead Partners, along with Global Lead Partners, provide financial support and help guide the Smart Cities Council’s actions either regionally or globally, based on partnership level. Global Lead Partners include Cisco, Hitachi, IBM, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, Current, powered by GE, Itron, Sensus, Qualcomm, and SAS Institute, among others.

Providing a Smart City through Lighting

Several cities have started to invest in smart street lighting, which are further advanced than LEDs and have the benefits of increased control and artificial intelligence. The city of Spokane, Washington is one of the latest cities to deploy smart street lights. It is using vision control traffic-adaptive LED street lights with artificial intelligence from Echelon—a developer of open standards control networking platform for lighting and building management. Echelon’s lighting platform transmits traffic information to help reduce response time and improve reliability. Each unit, deployed on traffic intersection street lights, will determine light levels based on traffic volume and reduce or increase light levels accordingly.

Lighting and technology vendors are working to advance their offerings to create a smart street lighting platform that can be utilized as the foundation for a smart city. Though many offerings are currently available on the market, further advancement and price declines will help with continued adoption of smart street lighting systems. Partnerships between lighting and technology providers and utilities, as well as organizations such as the Smart Cities Council, are continuing to advance smart street lighting. This relatively young industry is worth monitoring as it continues to experience growth.

 

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