Over the past 18-months, the team at Sammin Engineering has been working on a range of essential and non-essential projects, most recently focused on the safe return of company employees and their customers to workplaces all around the country. 

 

With this in mind, Deloitte has published a helpful guide to the use of smart building technologies to enable facilities managers ensure a safe and healthy working environment for teams to reenter the workplace.

 

The main categories of smart buildings tools fall under the following functions: 

  • Managing occupancy in real time: Post-pandemic, area occupancy will likely need to be reduced and monitored in real time to ensure compliance with safety guidelines. IoT sensors enable dynamic occupancy analytics, which can be linked to existing workplace apps or ICT systems for real-time alerts for building owners and operators.

 

  • Tracking people movement: Starting with temperature screening at the point of entry, there are many new technologies being used to track movement within the workplace. This was being done prior to the pandemic to accurately measure the true usage of spaces within a building and to help automate wayfinding. Post-pandemic, this will be critical to ensure adherence to social distancing measures. The Deloitte paper includes carpetings embedded with LED lighting that can provide visual prompts to building occupants and visitors. 

 

  • Improving air quality and ensuring adequate ventilation, including smart maintenance of  HVAC systems: Indoor air quality, or IAQ, has been a critical part of the Covid-19 safety conversation. There are many new technologies to reduce the spread of infection and to improve the air flow throughout a building, including LED disinfection systems. 

 

  • Pandemic-responsive cleaning regime: Using the data generated around building occupancy and people tracking, cleaning activities will need to be focused on areas of higher use. Also, the old-fashioned pen and paper notices will no longer be sufficient as a record of cleaning. Significantly, (on the low tech side of things) during the pandemic, cleaning staff within buildings started to use high-visibility vests, not for any safety advantage, but to increase the awareness of ongoing building cleaning activities. 

 

  • General building management, including BMS upgrades for better connectivity:  Many of the technology solutions innovated and deployed over the past 18-months are dependent upon IoT sensors and interoperability has become a growing problem for building owners, who find themselves forced to engage with several different systems, using several different dashboards. While this is not ideal, it is symptomatic of the rapid uptake in technology, making previously ‘dumb’ buildings smart. Right now, existing buildings are plugging in new technologies that most BMS systems cannot handle sustainability or over the longer term.  But this is part of the wider conversation for another day!




The above is merely a snapshot of the new proptech solutions available and it is important to point out that ad hoc installation of IoT, or Internet of Things, devices can weaken the stability and security of a building’s network so this should be only done in consultation with built environment cybersecurity specialists. The Deloitte publication can be viewed in full and downloaded here: 

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/process-and-operations/us-smart-building-tech-pov.pdf



www.sammin.ie 

 

The Story of Lighting Our Homes



With increasing innovation around residential lighting, the emergence of ‘lighting as a service’, and a new focus on energy efficiency for both the industry and consumers, the team at Sammin Engineering took a look back at the history of lighting our homes. 

 

While grabbing the ladders to change a lightbulb may seem a bit of a nuisance, spare a thought for all those who have come before us. For most of humankind’s history, keeping the darkness at bay within our dwellings was quite the challenge. In a fascinating article by the Science Museum, the issue is brought to life, focussing on society’s movement from candlelight, then to gas and to electricity, and the cultural impact each has had.

 

The Days of Flame and Oil

Go back in time just a couple hundred years, and you will be looking at a world almost entirely lit by flame. So vital was the open hearth to a building for light, as well as warmth, that entire structures were usually built around it, with a stationary, grated fire the hub of activity in any dwelling. Visit almost any historic building, and you will find sitting niches right next to the hearth, where the families would cook, mend, and sew. Almost all home-based activity could be found undertaken around this big light source, with candles and oil lamps the only way to navigate the rest of the home. While such mobile sources of light were used by rich and poor alike, the quality of light differed considerably. For the poor of the British Isles, there were rushlights, a type of miniature torch made from dried stalks of the rush plant. These grass-like stems were soaked in fat or grease and placed in holders where the flame would work its way down the stem. A 30-centimeter rushlight could be expected to burn from anywhere between 15-60 minutes, depending on how it was made. While not the brightest or longest burning flames, being so inexpensive to make, they were still finding usage in rural communities until the 1900s.

 

As well as rushlights, the poor also relied on poorer quality candles, made from tallow. These stinking light sources emitted very little light and filled the air with smoke, which made working by their luminance even more difficult.

 

For the more affluent, there were oil lamps and better quality candles. These were made of beeswax, and the grease scooped out of the heads of sperm whales. While unfortunate for the whale, those lucky enough to have candles made from these substances could expect brighter, whiter-light that emitted little smoke.

 

Pre-gas and electricity, lighting outside of the home was an issue too, with almost all streets relying on moonlight and the dim light offered from buildings. This often caused many problems with gloomy, dark alleys rife with crime, and accidents.

 

Gas Lighting to Arc Lights

Just as oil lamp technology was nearing its limits towards the end of the 18th century, gas lighting stepped onto the stage, staying with us for over a century before being replaced by electricity. While gas lights found common usage in street lighting and the abundance of industrial factories of the time, only the middle-class and higher could afford gas-lit homes. For the 19th century, well-to-do gas provided convenient and bright lighting throughout the home, at the risk of the odd explosion and some particularly nasty fumes.

 

By the 1870s, electricity began to replace gas as the light source of choice around Britain - Ireland was well behind the innovation curve. It began with the tedious gas street lights that had to be lit and dowsed daily by hand. Instead, arc lighting was introduced where newly invented electric generators ran current through two large carbon rods, producing an intense light.

 

These lights were ideal for public spaces, producing enough light to illuminate very large areas such as busy junctions and fields to enable longer working hours in agriculture. They found particular favour in up-and-coming New York, where tycoons of industry would illuminate their skyscrapers and the surrounding area to demonstrate their wealth and magnanimity.

 

While not everyone was a fan, with Robert Louis Stevenson calling arc lights an “ugly blinding glare”, the technology led the way for future electric lighting.

 

The Early Light Bulb

Despite arc lights providing a solution for outdoor spaces, not many fancied using one inside their homes. Taking decades to develop, the incandescent bulb was ready for its time to shine. Developed* by Josepha Swan and prolific inventor Thomas Edison (*contested), the incandescent bulb began life in the 1840s but didn’t find commercial viability until the 1870s. The issue was finding a filament durable enough to stand a current and give off enough light to be useful. Many different materials were used to try and find a suitable medium, including cotton, platinum, and even human hair.

 

Once the technology was perfected, it didn’t take long before it found its way into homes, with domestic electricity supplies soon becoming more commonplace. While most would find the light given off by these early bulbs to be fairly dim, their incandescent light was still far superior to gas and oil, not to mention safer. With electricity firmly settled into the home environment, other appliances soon became commercially viable, using plug sockets to leech off the electric lighting’s electricity supply.

 

Modern Lighting

By the 1930s, newly-built homes were already hooked up to the developing national grid, with two-thirds of homes electrified by 1940. The main challenge was retrofitting existing buildings where electric supplies were difficult to implement, especially in rural areas.

 

As the decades have advanced, electric supplies have become more reliable. They are now becoming a lot greener, using more sustainable energy sources to produce the electricity that lights our homes.

 

The bulbs themselves have also seen advancements, with traditional incandescent bulbs slowly phased out for halogen and CFL bulbs before the arrival of LED alternatives that are found in most homes. These produce more light for less energy, and with smart lights now a feature of contemporary homes; you don’t even need to flick a switch, simply tell the light to come on, and it will!

 

Abundant lighting has revolutionized the world, allowing creativity and productivity to continue even after the sun goes down. However, we might want to consider what we’ve lost in the process, namely, the night sky.

 

For most of us living in urban and suburban areas, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see stars at night, with the glow of streetlights and homes affecting 80 percent of the planet’s population. And while switching from the yellow glow of sodium street lights to the energy-efficient white LEDs might seem a welcome change, there is increasing research to show this is having a damaging effect on wildlife behaviour. It is an interesting space to watch, as innovation and the desire for energy-efficiency collides.



 

www.sammin.ie

 

With the urgency of climate change in mind, one local authority in Tipperary has begun proceedings to install 600 smart LED street lights in the area. Thurles, Drangan, and Clonoulty will all see the traditional sodium lamp posts converted to the greener alternative. The conversion of the street lights is a joint project with the North West Europe Smart-Space project, which itself involves 12 other European partners.

 

Savings Switching to LED

According to current records, lighting Tipperary's streets is responsible for 35 percent of the County Council's energy consumption. With only 28 percent of the county's streets currently converted to LED lighting, the new installations will go some way to achieving its energy goals.

Delayed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new lighting sees Tipperary continuing its efforts to fight climate change. Back in 2017, Tipperary County Council signed up to an energy partnership with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)  to implement energy-saving measures. With an energy reduction target of 33 percent, the county saw other measures introduced, such as photovoltaic solar panels installed across nine public buildings, saving €25,000+ per annum.

Cost of Conversion

Pursuing cost and energy efficiencies, the new efforts will see 600 smart LED lights installed across the three pilot locations. Inhabitants of Thurles, Drangan, and Clonoulty village can expect to see the new lights being installed over the coming months, with no completion date currently set.

In coordination with the Tipperary Energy Agency, the project sees Tipperary County Council working closely with several European project partners to bring EU nations closer to Net-Zero.

The majority of the costs are being fronted by Interreg North West Europe, funding 60 percent of the project. The remaining 40 percent is made up by the Tipperary County Council.

Energy Savings and EU Fundings

Interreg North West Europe is an EU project to make the north-west European region a "key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability, and cohesion."

The programme sees €370 million of the European Regional Development Fund invested into projects like Tipperary's street lighting, implementing beneficial changes to life, business, and climate. Through the investment in Tipperary, the new street lights are expected to save approximately 150,000 kWh. This is the equivalent to around 19 home's electricity usage, or 267,159 miles worth of greenhouse gas emissions from a motor vehicle.

Looking ahead, Siona Daly, the CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency, claims:

"...if this Smart-Space lighting project proves to be a success in Tipperary, it could impact national policy and decision-making on public lighting."

What is a Smart Street Light?

Utilising the most up-to-date electrical engineering, smart street lighting provides infrastructure that helps future-proof areas.

Smart street lighting makes use of advances in technology to incorporate features such as light-sensing sensors, cameras, WiFi, and even weather monitoring. The technology installed varies from area to area but always features a light-emitting diode (LED). The lighting network is maintained by a central management system and, through the various sensors, can adjust the lighting automatically. Once implemented, smart street lights can dynamically change their brightness depending on the conditions, making roads safer and also allowing less energy to be used. With the street lights all in communication through the management system, lights can be adjusted automatically for upcoming vehicles or pedestrians.

The lights are future-proofed in the sense that more sensors can be added if required. These can be used to predict the weather, for example, or display digital signs. With cameras installed, they can even be used as a CCTV network to monitor traffic, as well as a broadcast system in the event of an emergency.

Concerns

Through their use of smart lighting spaces, Tipperary County Council is looking to reduce its carbon footprint and prepare the area for the future.

One of the biggest disadvantages to smart lighting is the upfront cost. With steep initial investments and many local authorities already stretched thin, the cost puts the smart street lighting technology out of the question. However, thanks to EU funding schemes and a push for carbon neutrality, we can expect to see more smart street lighting across Europe. With street lighting costing on average 30-40 percent of an area's energy costs, switching to LED also provides an instant 80 percent saving.

With projects such as Tipperary County Council’s project, smart street lighting is now becoming more commonplace. This not only future-proofs Tipperary in terms of technology but globally too, helping reduce further contributions to climate change. 

 

www.Sammin.ie

 

 

 

 

Well-designed and strategically installed emergency lighting and signage are vital to ensuring occupants of a building can find their way out in the event of a fire or other emergency.

 

Legislation

The Fire Services Act (1983-2003) and The Buildings Regulations (1997-2017) are the two key pieces of legislation that dictate what emergency lighting is necessary for buildings. The Fire Services Act specifies that whoever is in control of a building, whether that be an owner or current occupier, is responsible for the safety of the persons within the building itself. The Buildings Regulation’s performance code requires sufficient lighting to enable the navigation of escape routes safely.

 

In Ireland, the standard for emergency lighting systems is called: I.S. 321: 2013+A1:2017, or more simply “Emergency Lighting and Amendment 1:2017.” This standard mandates that the design, installation, and undertaking of an emergency lighting system are done so by a “competent person.”

 

However, in Ireland, there is currently no minimum qualification or training necessary to class oneself as an emergency lighting designer, though using an accredited professional body is recommended.

 

Emergency Escape Lighting

In the event of a failure of a building’s standard light systems, emergency lighting is required to clearly indicate available escape routes. These routes should be illuminated to the point of exit with fire alarm panels, call points and fire extinguishers, etc., along the way also clearly visible. The Emergency Lighting and Amendment 1:2017 specifies that escape routes 2m or less should be illuminated to 1 lux along the central band, with half the width of the corridor 0.5 lux.

 

Wider escape routes can be treated as a series of 2m “corridors” or considered as an open area where 0.5 lux of anti-panic lighting is necessary throughout. Anti-panic lighting is designed to reduce the chance of panic within individuals and instead enable the safe passage through a potentially hazardous environment.

 

Anti-panic lighting is necessary for areas 60m2 or smaller if additional hazards would be present, such as a large number of people. 

 

Emergency Exit Signs

In Ireland, emergency exit signs and lighting are subject to the standard statutory requirements. Namely:

  • Rectangular or square (S.I. 299 of 2007)

  • White pictogram on a green background (S.I. 299 of 2007)

 

Facilities managers can ensure continuity is attained throughout a building by using the following type of emergency exit signs:

  • Type 1 (I.S. EN 1838: 2013 and ISO 7010:2012+A7:2017)

  • Type 2 (I.S EN 1938: 1999 and ISO 7010:2003+A2:2007)

 

These standards ensure signs are readable from appropriate distances through sufficient lighting, and the pictograms used are widely understood with clear directives. Almost everyone recognizes these sorts of emergency signs and are recommended because of this. In the case of a fire or other emergency, familiarity with emergency signage can save lives.

 

For newer buildings, it is recommended that Type 1 emergency exit signs are used and that all non-graphical “Exit” signage be replaced to comply fully with legislation.

 

Placement of Emergency Exit Signs

When designing an emergency exit system, several things must be considered. 

 

This includes the building’s use. A building with a busy factory floor, for example, with machinery throughout, could be a potentially hazardous escape route in an emergency. Contrariwise, an office with clear, straight corridors offers ideal routes that can easily accommodate a safe escape route.

 

As well as the building’s use, facilities managers should also consider the following, all of which can affect the way an escape route is designed and used:

  • Building specific legislation

  • Evacuation strategies

  • Occupant familiarity with the building

 

The chief aim is to eliminate ambiguity and confusion of an escape route’s path. Strategic placement of exit signs is the primary way of achieving this. In short, make sure exit signs are always visible.

 

Emergency exit signs can be either externally or internally illuminated and must feature at the final point of exit, as well as along the route where it is deemed necessary to guide occupants along the route. Where the final exit point is not immediately visible on a route, a series of signs must be used to assist progression towards it. They must not be placed on doors or other aspects of a building that can be obstructed or moved out of the occupant’s line of sight.

 

The placement of emergency signs must ensure that an escape route or doorway to an escape route is visible within a room. If a route is not clear, emergency lighting should be used to assist in progression. If the maximum viewing distance of a sign is exceeded, an intermediate sign should also be installed.

 

Throughout a route, emergency exit signs should take precedence over other signage to prevent confusion. For example, an art gallery may have work that resembles or makes use of conflicting signage. In this case, if the true exit sign cannot be reasonably identified, the compromising artwork would need to be removed. Facilities managers would need to assess their buildings and look out for similar ambiguities that may adversely affect the directional information of the emergency exit signs.

 

Facilities managers should also consider the area immediately outside the final exit that leads to the assembly point. A risk assessment should be undertaken to determine if the area requires additional lighting or further signage to guide occupants.

 

Testing and Servicing

According to the requirements outlined in the Emergency Lighting and Amendment 1:2017, the following checks should be undertaken:

Daily

  • Logbooks should be checked to confirm repairs have been completed.

  • Central battery systems checked via indicators.

  • Automatic test systems checked via indicators.

  • Deficiencies should be recorded correctly in the logbook for rectification.

Weekly

  • Visually check at least 25% of emergency lighting lamps are maintained.

  • Check the status LED of at least 25% of self-contained systems (green LED).

  • Replace any lamps if necessary.

  • Ensure 100% of the system is checked every 4 weeks.

Quarterly

  • Standalone systems should have a power failure simulated, using 30 minutes per 3 hours as a guideline. During this time, all lamps are illuminated by the end of the test period.

 

  • Central Battery systems that power emergency lighting should be checked to ensure that the automatic testing systems using the recommended procedure by the manufacturers.

  • For both, a report should be issued in accord with Annex C7 of the Emergency Lighting and Amendment 1:2017.

Annually

  • An annual certificate is issued if no defects are found.

  • Compliance guides are detailed in Annex D of the Emergency Lighting and Amendment 1:2017.

 

For further information, contact the expert team at www.sammin.ie