Sustainable Building and Campus Control Infrastructure for Lighting, Energy, and HVAC

Author photo: Jim Frazer
ByJim Frazer


New Internet of Things (IoT) technologies create both exciting opportunities and substantial challenges for the Building and Campus Control  Acuity%20Brands.JPGentire ecosystem of stakeholders involved in designing, deploying, operating, and maintaining the various systems and subsystems that comprise today’s built environment. As ARC Advisory Group learned in a recent briefing with company executives, Acuity Brands’ nLight software and hardware suite is designed to offer a dramatic new approach to project planning that addresses total cost of ownership (TCO) and sustainability objectives for all stakeholders, while helping projects to be delivered on-schedule and under-budget.   

Who Drives These Needs?

Acuity Brands’ nLight offering takes a holistic integrated view by addressing the needs of all major stakeholder communities. These needs are broadly distributed across all the decision makers and decision influencers that impact a project.  To reduce TCO and increase efficiency,  nLight is designed to drive efficiencies for all stakeholders in the project lifecycle. This includes all major stakeholder communities:

  • Designers/engineers – who desire ease of design from a fully featured solution
  • Installation partners – who require fast plug and play installation scenarios
  • Commissioning partners – who need software tools that allow quick system startup as well as access to functions that maximize efficiencies
  • Operations personnel – who require intuitive interfaces that drive labor and physical asset management scenarios
  • Maintenance  personnel – who need interrupt-driven access to critical system anomalies and operational trends

Today, all stakeholders require solutions that cross functional domains to break down the existing silos.  These solutions should allow one software  platform to support HVAC, indoor and outdoor lighting, security, and all the ancillary systems resident in the built environment of today.

A Compelling Feature Set

As we learned, nLight’s solutions are designed to satisfy the needs listed above (and many others):

  • Energy conservation – nLight employs a range of energy efficiency approaches. By using occupancy sensors, daylight sensors, in-space user controls, and other means, lighting can be reduced to optimum levels by individual and/or group dimming while ensuring that the correct and safe amount of light is supplied to the area. Similarly, through  Automated Demand Response using the  OpenADR 2.0 protocol, utility energy charges can be aggressively managed.
  • Integration with the building management system (BMS) - nLight supports BACnet and other popular BMS protocols through the company’s nLight ECLYPSE system controller. 
  • Interoperability – nLight’s interoperable solutions help ensure a “future-proofed” solution.  Software and hardware devices are upgradable to unlock new features as spaces evolve in the future.
  • Data collection monetization – operational system data can be collected, analyzed, and monetized.
  • Lower integrated fixture and control cost -  The nLight solution set includes control nodes embedded directly within the fixture. This reduces overall cost by eliminating external connectors and securing those controls from the environmental impacts of humidity, temperature, and other factors. A compelling reason to select luminaire-embedded controls is the ability to decrease installation time as well as the lower cost associated with DC-based controls.
  • Code compliance – For both industrial and commercial applications, local, state and national building codes must be supported. The nLight approach (which, to the best of ARC’s knowledge, is unique) should help significantly reduce the costs associated with code compliance.
  • Modular approach to design and installation – The nLight modular and scalable solution set covers a range of application scenarios from standalone installation to fully integrated building campuses. 
  • Local networked solutions can be wired or wireless and provide room or space-based control solutions.
  • System-wide networked solutions include nLight bridges and/or an nLight AIR wireless adapter to the ECLYPSE controller to enable a system-wide networked solution, providing advanced features such as global control and programming, building management system integration, time-based control, and more for a building or an entire campus.
  • Fully integrated campuses - nLight supports fully integrated campuses through its Software + Building and Campus Control nLight%20ECLYPSE%20System%20Controller.JPGConnected Buildings offering. This includes a suite of software and web applications for device configuration, management, visualization, and control. It’s also easily combined with Acuity Brands’ Distech Controls products to form a unified building automation and digital lighting control solution, creating a smart platform to power connected buildings.

Options include:

  • Controls-enabled luminaires
  • Manual dimming
  • Motion sensing and daylight harvesting
  • Plug load control
  • Mobile applications for device configuration and system operation
  • Dynamic tuning of color temperature
  • Scheduling by time of day/day of year, and astronomical clock
  • Automated Demand Response (ADR)
  • Sitewide configuration and management
  • BMS integration
  • System visualization and utilization dashboards
  • Unified, fully integrated systems for BMS and  lighting, both indoor and outdoor

The above features all contribute to a significant reduction in TCO by reducing both the hardware and software costs as well as the labor required for projects of all types.

Acuity Brands’ nLight and Sustainability

The three pillars of sustainability include: 1) preserving/enhancing the natural environment, 2) preserving/enhancing the human quality of life while doing the first two in, 3) an economically reasonable manner.

nLight controls are designed to allow granular control of groups of fixtures and even individual fixtures to minimize energy usage and the resulting negative impact to the environment. nLight’s control of spectral power density (essentially adjustable light color and light intensity) is especially important in promoting safety and security. This improves visual acuity – an issue that impacts almost all users – from pedestrians in a parking garage to consumers in a shopping mall. 


The nLight solution’s broad range of features were designed to make it easier to implement sustainable,  code-compliant solutions with low total cost of ownership in commercial office, educational, outdoor and industrial applications, through the solution’s controls-enabled luminaires, sensors, and wall stations.  nLight offers simple dimming, preset scenes, and color temperature control to deliver dynamic environments while helping drive energy savings.  nLight delivers a breadth of products for a complete lighting controls solution from indoor to outdoor, task lighting for employees, and local room controls to system-wide building management integration.

nLIGHT and ECLYPSE are registered trademarks and DISTECH CONTROLS is a trademark of Acuity Brands.  All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

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Keywords: Acuity Brands, nLight, Lighting, Building Management System (BMS), HVAC, Energy, Sustainability, ARC Advisory Group.


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