A whole lot of opportunity
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Parking garages: A whole lot of opportunity
We’ve all done it. Parked the car, gathered our belongings, and rushed to find the nearest stairwell to make that important meeting or flight. But, you may not have noticed the dynamic, subtle complexities of the building housing your vehicle. How did your surroundings change as you drove off the street and into the illuminated concrete structure? Did you notice if the parking garage had multiple levels? Was one floor completely underground? Was the top level exposed to natural sunlight? How did things change as you moved between the different levels? Was it dark, or bright, or maybe a little of both? Now, think about it from a lighting designer’s perspective. What are the energy codes for the area? Are there any wireless control systems installed? How do they handle maintenance and support?
When thinking about parking decks as a comprehensive lighting system, the challenges quickly stack up, but we’re here to shine some light on how you can stack the deck in your favor.
Facility managers have a tough job. They need lighting solutions and controls that meet the energy codes in their area. They want simple integrations that work seamlessly with existing operational systems. They want quick notifications and the ability to make adjustments to the system on their own. And this is just the top layer of the complete labyrinth, so we’ll take some time here to dig down, level by level.
A Dynamic Environment
Most multi-level parking garages are in a constant state of change, even though it may not be obvious. Many energy regulations dictate the amount of artificial light that can be used when daylight is present. Natural light levels can vary from hour to hour, day to day, and season to season. The angle of the sun throughout the day or the year can have just as much impact as cloud cover from day-to-day weather changes. The surrounding area can also evolve as new buildings are built or torn down in adjacent lots. What was once a tall office complex next door that cast a large shadow could become a sunny, empty lot. Large trees also impact light levels inside a garage as a blooming adult oak creates more shade in spring than after its leaves fall in autumn. Each floor inside the garage is also different from the next. The bottom levels can be like a basement with no natural light. Meanwhile, the top level is like an open air parking lot with direct sunlight.
Since we’re talking about structure, there can also be some extreme variance in the physical construction of most parking decks. No two parking decks are identical. Each development is often unique and built for a specific purpose for varying tenants. They’ll sometimes have different business hours and the space can be filled out with a mix of lighting fixtures and sensors. Garages for a retail complex will have different hours and occupants compared to a hospital deck or an airport facility. Some decks consist of just a few floors, but the interior is as long as a football field. Others have a small footprint in an urban area, but have a multitude of floors. The size and occupancy times of a garage will also be affected by regulatory concerns. Many building codes require lighting to be off within minutes of the last occupant leaving the building.
Supervising large areas and structures like these can be a challenge for control systems. There may be facility managers who own and operate multiple garages. These structures may be just across the street from one another, on the other side of town, or in a different state completely. How can they manage the lights across all their properties? Will the solution consist of many small systems or one centralized system? These are just a few examples of some of the considerations when specifying lighting control systems in parking decks.
Federal, state, and local regulations, building codes and electrical standards are a whole separate consideration. For more information about specific regulations and how our systems meet or exceed their requirements, please read our blog that covers this topic extensively.
Simple solutions that just work
Garages are complex structures, but thankfully, there aren’t a lot of complicated components involved in SimplySnap. This helps you get the job done efficiently, despite these uniquely challenging environments.
In every SimplySnap installation, you have at least one gateway and a number of wireless fixtures, occupancy sensors, or daylight harvesting sensors, all controlled by a single interface. Most installations start with our central base station, which is our outdoor-rated gateway. It connects over WiFi, ethernet or cellular networks. Wireless lighting controls allow you to make adjustments and the system is easy to use. The clean interface allows users to control multiple fixtures, zones, buildings, or entire facilities from a single screen. SimplySnap is great for retrofitting older systems seamlessly and new installations are built to meet the energy codes in the project’s area. The way we relay messages to and from lights and sensors is very unique and was built by our team in Huntsville from the ground up. The technology involved is sophisticated and works quietly in the background so that the customer is presented with a system that simply works. Lights in occupancy zones respond quickly to motion activity, fixtures in daylight zones are continuously dimming, and property owners are proactively notified about maintenance issues with lights in the system.
Wireless automation allows users to create custom schedules for single or recurring events. Daylight harvesting saves energy as an open-loop system that adjusts the light level in a particular area. Demand response includes integrated participation with utility companies to reduce energy during peak times.
Our software provides quick, real-time feedback on the status of the lights, dimming levels, motion sensor status, power measurements, communication notifications, and pretty much anything else you might need. There is no app to download and it works on any device with a browser. Users can manage facilities remotely from their couch with a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.