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A few weeks back, we introduced you to a remarkable commercial building occupied by the New York Times Company – remarkable because of its energy efficiency and inspired design. The NECA-IBEW team was responsible for the installation of a new, total light management system.

We were taken on a quick tour of their new digs by ETV’s Dominic Giarratano. Today, we are going to dive a little bit deeper into this project. We’ll show you exactly how it works and how much energy and money they are saving.

The first stop on the tour was on the roof, where the rains of the operation are located. On the mast of this 1.4 million square-foot skyscraper is a radiometer and global illuminance sensor. These measure the position of the sun and the brightness of the sky. The natural path of the sun throughout the day is tracked and recorded, and if it’s a cloudy day, these sensors recognize that, too.

Each floor has multiple electrical closets housing multiple electrical panels. The lutron lighting controls in here talk to the systems on the roof, and adjust each quadrant of each floor accordingly. The work spaces are equipped with two sets of eyes: daylight sensors and occupancy sensors. They are meant to make quick adjustments on a case by case basis.

But what really makes this space unique, and a true design marvel, is the amount of customization that’s built in. For that, let’s catch up with the tour once again.

Glenn Hughes, Consultant, The New York Times Company
“First and foremost, what’s important to realize is that each and every fixture has a dimmable ballast in it. And it has an intelligent chip so that it’s addressable so that we can associate fixtures in multiple zones at once. We’ve been able to build a multiple layer of control type system.”

“So the default is daylight. That’s what we want to have as the primary setting. It’s the most comfortable for people. It makes people feel better about what they are doing, to go back to the way we work. But we also have other settings. This is a preset dimmable controller that allows us to control the lights in multiple manners. So, for instance, if we wanted to do audio-visual in this room, I would go into present four, and all the lights that are between the projector lens and the screen, we turn those off and we keep the others on. So this is a present scene.”

“In a dimmable system where you have preset set points, you can tune the light levels. We tuned it all the way down from 50 to 30, so even without the daylight, we have already saved 40 percent in this building by dimming down from 50 to 30 foot candles. And we have a number of departments running anywhere from 10 to 25 foot candles. So we have even deeper savings in those departments. It’s absolutely fantastic.”

Dominic Giarratano, Host, Electric TV
“Now, the shades on the windows, are those programmable, do you have control over them? Talk about that.”

Glenn Hughes, Consultant, The New York Times Company
“Yes, the automated shade system. This is an automated shade system. We believe that an automated shade system is necessary if you really want to optimize your energy usage. So the primary algorithm says, bring the shades down if we have direct sun in the plane of the window, or if we have glare. Otherwise, let’s keep the shades up. And in this building, the shades are up 70 percent of the time. When you add natural light into people’s space, you create a better wok environment, which lends to better health, it lends to more creativity, more productivity. And if we can accept that we get 1 percent productivity improvement in our space, the system paid itself back in a matter of months.”

And just to reiterate a few points from the first video tour, the electrical contractors were the first ones in the ceiling during the installation process. They installed one complete floor first. The work was then checked by The New York Times Company reps, flaws were identified, and problems were fixed. They completed the rest of the 27 floors without compounding mistakes.

Let’s take a look at the raw numbers. The New York Times Company is saving at least 40 percent before a light is even turned on, because they are using 30 foot candles instead of the 50 foot standard. When the lights are on, the energy pumping to them is more than 70 percent below the required New York City code for wattage per square foot. This all adds up to an annual total savings of $1 per square foot. Multiply that by the 600,000 square feet that they occupy, and the results are astounding.

Remember, this type of installation isn’t only available to you owners out there who have a brand new building to work with. Retrofit installations are just as practical. Now that’s a lot of bang for your buck.