Build A Future-Proof Facility Without Really Trying

Parking garage exterior Los Angeles

There are so many practical decisions that go into the construction of a commercial facility, from design to permitting to fixture specification to the actual physical building coming together, that thinking about how the building might be used 10 years down the line can seem like a luxury, at best — or at worst, irrelevant daydreaming. But architects and engineers should always strive to meet the needs of the time, now and in the future.

In the past, that may have meant the brightest, longest-lasting fluorescent lighting and state-of-the-art closed-circuit securi-ty systems.

In the present, it could mean supporting IoT devices like smart locks, intelligent lighting sensors, cloud-enabled security cameras and connected thermostats — all of which can communicate wirelessly with one another, and adjust based on the needs of the facility.

And in the future? Well, it’s impossible to say what the needs and the technological standards and capabilities might be in 10 years. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to build something that will be just as relevant and useful now as a decade from now.

A Future-Ready Garage That Almost Wasn’t

A few years ago, FSC worked on a parking garage in downtown LA that was spec’d for fluorescent lighting, but switched to LED fixtures at the last minute. It is not an easy process to change building specs, but we were able to convince the client that the decision would be a smart decision to help their parking garage be more future-ready. And it paid off.

All 10 levels of the parking garage are equipped with energy-efficient LED lighting, and controlled by integrated occupan-cy sensors, which use passive infrared technology to sense when an area is occupied, and to dim or turn off lights when no cars or people are nearby. This combination of high-efficiency LEDs and intelligent lighting controls saves $167,458 in energy costs every year, and reduces energy consumption by nearly 1.4 million kWh annually.

Obviously, if we had been able to tell the facility owner what the total annual costs savings would be, it’s unlikely they would have said no. But at the time, opting for the most cost-effective, long-term solution meant investing in a technology that had a slightly higher price tag than fluorescent.

These are the kinds of decisions that can be difficult to make in the short term, but more than pay for themselves as the years go by. Of course, as with all “cutting-edge solutions,” there will come a time when the light fixtures that FSC installed in that parking garage will need to be replaced with the more advanced technologies of tomorrow — but consider the other parking garages built that same year that didn’t upgrade to LED lighting. How expensive and difficult must it have been to retrofit the entire parking garage? Now, imagine if adapting your facility for future technologies was as simple as unplug-ging the old and replacing it with the new.

Introducing PowerPlus, Your Facility’s Future-Proofing Hack

We’re very excited about a new technology called PowerPlus, which can turn FSC Lighting fixtures into ports to power electronics, including IoT devices. It’s a small innovation with far-reaching possibilities.

We were recently able to install PowerPlus modules into the FSC Lighting fixtures in a parking garage in Torrance, CA, enabling the facility the flexibility to adapt their electronics as their needs shift. That might mean expanding their security system this year. Or it may mean, a decade from now, installing IoT innovations that haven’t even been invented yet.

PowerPlus can be pre-installed or added to existing FSC Lighting fixtures. You can power electronic devices directly from your light fixtures, giving you a possible solution to today’s needs or tomorrow’s breakthroughs.

Planning Smart to Be Ready for the Future

No one can predict the future, but the facilities in the best position are the ones that recognize that, like it or not, the future is coming. The most important thing to consider when future-proofing your build is adaptability. By thinking creatively and holistically about the future needs of your facility and the people who use it, your team can build flexibility and adapt-ability into your spaces. This will allow your facilities to transition more seamlessly when the time comes. In our minds, the strategies that can help you adapt your facility most easily are the smartest solutions and the best investments.

John Watkins Author Bio:
John has been in the energy efficient lighting industry for over 25 years. His background in lighting controls and LED solutions have helped FSC profitably survive the company’s conversion from a fluorescent OEM to a powerhouse LED manufacturer and integrator of even the most complex lighting controls solutions.

John oversees FSC’s product development, sales and marketing efforts directly as well as manages the companies overall P&L with Purchasing and Operations reporting to him.