AWeber Communications in Chalfont, PA thrives on creative energy. From free-form office space, to tube slide transports, to a dynamic lighting control system that automatically responds to the outdoor environment, AWeber offices combine playfulness with productivity and energy efficiency. These values are built into the office design, and evaluated regularly.

A recent lighting retrofit at their new headquarters resulted in a total lighting energy savings of 32% below baseline. The company attributes 70% of that reduction to dynamic lighting control strategies, including high-end-trim, wireless daylight and occupancy sensors, and automated shade control.

The main challenge was to reduce glare and heat gain in order to facilitate a better work environment. In AWeber’s original offices, the facilities team was constantly fielding calls about uncomfortable glare, and getting daily complaints about the lighting levels. It was too bright, too dark, or just uncomfortable for team members who were near the windows. “If you have to think about how you feel in your office space, that affects productivity,” explained Mike Flanagan, Senior Facilities Manager.

Because the entire perimeter of the building is floor-to-ceiling windows, the design team also wanted to utilize daylight harvesting to minimize the use of electric light. However, due to a variety of concerns, they immediately identified the need for a total light management system including automated shading controls that took the guesswork out of creating the right lighting levels in the work space.

As part of their commitment to sustainable design, the owners were especially interested in an automated shading solution that could repurpose the existing fabric from the relatively new manual shades. Lutron was able to customize a Sivoia® QS shading system using the original fabrics, creating an automated solution that integrated seamlessly with the lighting management system.

Digitally-addressable fluorescent dimming ballasts were retrofit or installed into fixtures throughout the facility, maximizing lighting performance, and ensuring appropriate light levels throughout the space. Lutron Sivoia QS automated shades with solar-adaptive technology are programmed to environmental patterns based on the building’s location and orientation. The shades move silently and subtly over the course of the day to eliminate glare and reduce heat gain, which also helps to reduce HVAC costs. Wireless window sensors also allow the shades to override programmed levels and respond to real-time conditions like cloudy days or shadows.

Wireless daylight sensors communicate with the dimming controls to automatically adjust electric light levels, supplementing available daylight and reducing electricity use when daylight is sufficient. In addition, wireless occupancy/vacancy sensors ensure lights are never left on when a space is vacant. The entire system is centrally monitored and lighting adjustments can be made in the space, in real time, using the Lutron app for the iPad®.

Wulff Architects and Bala Engineering worked closely with AWeber to provide energy-saving information as part of the renovation. Prior to the renovation, baseline lighting electricity use was 242,830 kWh. Subsequent analysis shows that AWeber has reduced lighting electricity use to 166,489 kWh. Further analysis by Rafael Carrero of Bala Engineering shows that 70% of the savings can be attributed to the lighting control strategies.

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Lighting Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2014 issue of Lighting Technology Magazine.

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