Trade Ally Network Northwest

Energy savings or comfort: Is there a trade-off?

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Too often as energy efficiency professionals, we “sell” energy savings while minimizing critical non-energy benefits, such as occupant comfort. The good news is, your client no longer has to trade one benefit for the other. A growing trend in commercial buildings is to focus on energy and operational efficiency while also promoting an improved occupant experience. New studies highlight the impact of lighting and HVAC on employees, and manufacturers take the user experience into consideration when launching new products.

For example, Siemens Building Technologies recently acquired Building Robotics, best known for its Comfy app. This app links to HVAC systems and allows employees additional control over their environment and users to see and adjust temperatures levels throughout the building. Comfy has recently added lighting capabilities to their app so occupants can also raise or lower light levels to key areas of the building in real time without changing the regular building schedule—which reverts back to programmed light levels.

Recent studies identify “human-centric lighting” as a key component to an occupant’s health and well-being. This is the ability to set and adjust your personal preference of light levels and color temperature from warm to cool. Having this level of control can help increase worker productivity, comfort and enjoyment. Similar to companies engaged in HVAC and building automation, lighting and control companies are providing solutions that focus and promote health and productivity through lighting. These solutions do cost more, so building owners and occupants need to fully understand the full range of benefits to justify the additional expense.

Building owners and managers are starting to be early adopters of human-centric HVAC and lighting solutions. To move past this early stage into widespread adoption, trade allies can help educate customers and provide solutions that deliver both comfort and energy savings.

For more information, contact your local utility or your regional field specialist.