Adaptive Lighting in Outdoor Security Applications

Publication Date: 
11/16/2021
Today, adaptive lighting, which is lighting controlled by occupancy sensors or schedules that adjust light levels based on actual site conditions, is considered best practice for numerous outdoor applications. Adaptive lighting has been adopted as part of some commercial energy standards and the strategy is now included in many outdoor lighting specifications and design guides. Outdoor areas with heightened security requirements, however, are often excluded from adaptive lighting control requirements and these areas remain lit with high, uniform levels of static illumination.

Common practice follows the principle that more light equals more safety and security at night. For many of these areas, however, few people have site access and few visitors, if any, are ever present in the space, making them prime spots for use of occupancy-controlled lighting. First, when the space is vacant, use of low light levels cuts unnecessary energy use, costs, and light pollution, while still providing adequate lighting by which to view the area from a distance for monitoring and periodic security checks. Second, when an occupant enters the space, sensors automatically detect their movement and immediately shift the lighting to full output, which alerts security personnel to activity in the area while also making the area bright for occupants.

However, even with these apparent benefits, many organizations feel the perceived risks associated with use of adaptive lighting in security applications outweigh the benefits. Research on the use and impacts of adaptive lighting is often noted as a critical need for moving the strategy from concept to reality. To address this, CLTC partnered with the Office of Naval Research to evaluate the energy-savings potential and end-user acceptance of adaptive lighting for outdoor security applications. The project focused on design and demonstration of an outdoor, adaptive lighting system at the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Hawai’i. CLTC designed and installed outdoor, adaptive, security lighting at two military locations with heightened security requirements 1) an office building and 2) a guard shack.

Special thanks go to the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Hawai’i, the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), and the UH School of Architecture Environmental Research and Design Lab (ERDL) for partnering with CLTC on this project.