Last month, Installation was among the first group of official visitors to Lutron Electronics' new European Experience Centre. Located on Finsbury Pavement in the City of London, this is the company's first Experience Centre outside North America, where it has five in the USA and one in Canada.
The 585sqm showroom and education facility features a number of spaces designed to replicate specific room types, including offices, hotel rooms and homes, and includes a selection of the company’s light and blind control solutions including GRAFIK Eye, myRoom, Quantum, and HomeWorks QS systems. The Centre also includes several meeting rooms and collaboration areas for system design and training.
Eric Lind, vice president – global specifications at Lutron, presented some of the company's automatic shading solutions. "Most of the buildings that you see being constructed today, the big difference with them versus buildings even 20 years ago [is there's] much more glass, much more daylight," he said. "But this potentially brings a challenge for people inside those buildings, which is visual discomfort." The biggest frustrations, he reported, are lack of control, artificial light that is too bright, and discomfort due to sun glare.
To demonstrate the value of light harvesting – by which artificial light is only used as a 'top up' for natural light – most of the Centre's windows (which are on three sides of the building) are fitted with blinds or curtains which move throughout the day based on the time of day and the sun’s position. The Centre’s energy savings are shown on a digital display.
By contrast, Lind pointed out a nearby building fitted with manual shades: "We've been here eight weeks, and none of those shades have ever been moved." Lutron's intelligent shades can eliminate glare by ensuring that the line of sunlight entering the building remain in a fixed position on the floor throughout the day.
Next, the visitors were shown a meeting room environment featuring a wall-mounted GRAFIK Eye unit wirelessly liked to an occupancy sensor and to the room's shades. "The GRAFIK Eye allows us to take control of all the zones in the room independently," commented Sam Woodward, customer education leader for Europe and Africa at Lutron. Selecting different modes, such as presentation mode or VC mode, causes the lighting and shading to be adjusted to suit the task in hand; additionally, the GRAFIK Eye contains what Woodward called a "graphic equaliser for your lighting" for finer adjustments.
Javier Segovia, EMEA sales director for corporate accounts, demonstrated some of Lutron's hospitality solutions, including myRoom Prime and myRoom Plus. The latter controls lights, HVAC and shades and also integrates with the hotel's systems, including building management systems and electronic locks. With hotel visitors typically not in their rooms 70% of the time, he commented, there is great scope for energy saving by the application of control.
Rather than simply relying on sensors, Lutron's guest presence detection algorithm also uses inputs from door locks and keypad touches inside the room. "This is very important because once you close the door, the system knows you are in the room – it doesn't matter if the sensor sees you or not," he said. "It knows you're in the room until you open the door again."
The myRoom View dashboard shows which rooms are occupied and unoccupied. This can increase the efficiency of scheduling maintenance or cleaning work by eliminating the need for staff to knock and wait for an answer, as well avoiding disturbances for guests.
The Centre offers training and advice to many types of industry professionals, including systems programmers, electrical installers and architects – as well as their clients. "We want the design community to treat this place as their home," said Woodward.
“Lutron Experience Centres provide our customers with both functional and personal resources that allow them easy access to Lutron products and technologies,” said senior vice president Ramin Merhganpour. “In addition to serving the European market, the new Centre will also be an invaluable resource for our customers around the globe.”