Bluetooth Mesh in the Build Environment – March 2021 Newsletter

Ulster Hospital features Patient-Centred Lighting with Bluetooth Control

Why shouldn’t a hospital be a welcoming and attractive space that puts patients at ease? That was the question the design team working on the new 32,000 square metre Acute Services Block at the Ulster Hospital in Belfast asked itself. The result is a lighting concept that owes more to boutique hotels or flagship offices and features a patient-centred lighting installation from ERCO with the latest wireless Casambi Bluetooth control. The illumination has been carefully planned by the building services consultancy Cundall to complement the architecture and emphasise the patient-centric experience. Instead of the usual uniform and often high-glare illumination from LED panels, Cundall has created a scheme with texture, hierarchy and visual interest. Emphasis has been placed on the illumination of the walls rather than the floors and the former feature distinctive scalloping which punctuate any journey through the building.

Photo credit: Image © ERCO GmbH,, photography: Gavriil Papadiotis.

Glare-free luminaires for high visual comfort

A key lighting tool in the project is ERCO’s Compar range of linear recessed luminaires, which have a striking cellular design and ensure excellent visual comfort. Compared to standard 600mm by 600mm LED panels, the visible face of Compar (38W) is only 7% the size, while delivering the same luminous flux. In the corridors, the Compar units are offset so that patients being moved on trolleys through the hospital receive no glare while in transit. This was important because regular bursts of glare like this, while highly discomforting, can trigger more serious reactions in those susceptible. Other thoughtful touches to the planning of the lighting include the use of variation in colour temperature to create a subtle, visual hierarchy across the building.

Wards, clinical rooms and circulation spaces feature LEDs with a cool colour temperature of 4000K while the restaurant features warm white 3000K sources. A track and spot approach with ERCO’s Oseris here brings pools of light to the tables and gives a soothing café environment for visitors.

Simple, individual light control via Bluetooth

The control of the lighting was always a major consideration at the Ulster Hospital and Cundall began considering a control strategy back in the initial design stages of the project in 2016. An exciting platform then emerging was Bluetooth, a topology in which luminaires and other control devices form a network and communicate directly with each other rather than via a central controller. ERCO was one of the first companies to realise its potential and integrated Bluetooth technology from Casambi into its in-house developed control gear.

Without additional hardware such as a central management system, the luminaires communicate directly with each other and with other devices including switches, dimmers and PIRs. The lighting can also be controlled by a smartphone or tablet app using the Bluetooth Low Energy wireless standard. “The project was highly versatile, with many different areas and with different requirements,” says Andrew Bissell, director of Light4 at Cundall, “so we needed a solution that was easy to use, and with the ability to make necessary adjustments, as per the clients’ wishes.” A unique function is in the patients’ bedroom, where several sensors monitor ‘out of bed’ movement and alert nurses if a patient has left their bed. As is normal on projects of this type, the luminaire specification was subject to rigorous value engineering analysis. However, to the client, the selection represented clear long-term value in terms of the total cost of ownership, the reduction of disturbance to patients due to maintenance and the light quality.

Connecting the indoors and outdoors

The outdoor spaces have been equally well considered by the design team. Here Castor bollard luminaires help visually connect the indoors with the outdoors. Eliminating light pollution was a priority in these spaces, so ERCO’s Dark Sky technology – which prevents emission of light above the horizontal – was a key feature of the specification.

The Castor bollards guide visitors, staff and patients safely along granite paths to the entrance of the building. Meanwhile, in the internal courtyard terraces, trees and planters are illuminated by ERCO’s Gecko luminaire. Its refined power is achieved by combining a slightly conical shape with design details such as seamless transitions.

The small housing conceals sophisticated photometric properties including excellent glare control and a virtually invisible light source. In fact, the exterior luminaires use the same precision optics that ERCO includes in its best-in-class spotlights for museums and art galleries. Additionally, the luminaire head can be tilted and rotated in any direction, allowing precise commissioning by adjusting the head to the exact position required.

The ERCO Light Factory in the German town of Lüdenscheid is a leading international specialist in architectural lighting using LED technology. The family business, founded in 1934, now operates as a global player with independent sales organisations and partners in 55 countries worldwide. Since 2015 ERCO’s portfolio has been 100% LED. With this in mind, ERCO in Lüdenscheid develops, designs and produces digital luminaires with focus on photometrics, electronics and design. Working closely with architects, lighting designers and engineers, ERCO develops lighting tools used primarily for applications in the following fields: Work, Shop, Culture, Community, Hospitality, Living, Public and Contemplation. ERCO understands digital light as the fourth dimension of architecture – providing highly precise and efficient lighting solutions to support creative designers in turning their visions into reality.

I hope that those who have just ended their financial year end processes, are able to breathe a sigh of relief!  2020 is now truly behind us.

As a professional illumination engineer and internationally recognised educator in the field of lighting, I have to continuously stay abreast of the latest CIE directives, International and South African changes to standards, and regulations if I expect to be able to teach our students and others.  This applies equally to everyone in the community of lighting professionals, architects, interior architects and designers and everyone in the lighting industry, no matter where in the world we find ourselves.  We have to be sure that we comply with all standards and regulations at all times.  In order to be able to comply, we have to know the detail about light, vision, lighting, technologies, controls and more.

We, at BHA School of Lighting are dedicated to communicating this information to those mentioned above and particularly our students.  I urge you to attend the new series of webinars.

Visit our website at scroll down until you find the REGISTER button.  Click on that button and follow the prompts.  It’s as easy as that. This is an easy way to at hear about the new teachings, methods, standards and regulations or any changes to them.  Of course, there is no substitute for enrolment on a formal Advanced Diploma course to learn every detail of all aspects of lighting.  Our students are kept right up to date and stay up to date as well as the allumni after they have graduated.  The project to revise and update every module manual for the course is proceeding well with no less than 8 of the 29 manuals already completed within the first two months.  It is a massive task which takes many hours of work and continuous editing to ensure the academic and scientific accuracy of any content.

I have noticed that there has been a noticeable upturn in new projects.  This has been the experience of a number of our students who are in business.  Many of our architectural and consulting electrical engineering students who are in practises, have also found themselves to be very busy, a great change from 2020.  Long may it continue!

I have recently reviewed the progress of every student, with particular focus on those who had fallen behind on their own study plans which I monitor on our system to encourage and help them to keep on track.  It has been very pleasing to have so many respond quickly, revise their own study plans and immediately make progress.  I know how easy it is to be distracted by other work, news or events and of course family.

In the process of reviewing their progress, I was struck by the harsh reality that many of our students had suffered in a variety of ways due to the pandemic.  Many lost loved ones, many lost their employment and others suffered from COVID.  Greatfully, a number of those who lost employment now have new employment.  I am so impressed by a number of the international students whose employers play an active role supporting them in their studies, some even allow them a period of time at work to study.  Some also monitor the student’s personal study plan to assist them to stay on track.  If only South African employers would have the foresight to appreciate the value that the student will bring during their enrolment and especially on their successful graduation.

I am also privileged to belong to both The Institution of Lighting Professionals (The ILP) in the UK and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) in Chicago, Illinois,USA.  In the case of the latter, I am an Educator Member.  Our students are encouraged to become Student Members of both fine institutions.  On occasions at virtual events of The ILP as many as twenty students attend.  It is a very dynamic institution.  Recently fourteen members attended an online event called “How to be Brilliant – Telling Stories with Light” presented by an English colleague, David Gilbey, a renowned lighting designer who lives in Italy.  It was excellent and was followed by a networking session where each participant was paired with another automatically at random by the amazing system that they use for two minutes, during which time introductions and conversations followed.  Precisely at two minutes up, the system cut and linked the participant with another for another two minutes.  I guess it was much like speed dating!  It was fantastic for the students to be able to meet lighting pepole from all over the world.  It also gave the students the opportunity to speak to some of the leadership of the ILP during the session.

We are all so privileged to be members, no matter what level of membership.  The student members have full membership and free access to the excellent resources and documents through their own members portal.  This includes access to the fantastic Lighting Journal, a fully fledged glossy publication on lighting subjects and case studies.  It is a monthly publication always eagerly awaited each month.

The IALD is another dynamic organisation with chapters throughout the world, unfortunately not in South Africa.  Their news publication is excellent.  Surveys are conducted, the results of which sometimes assist members to plan within their own businesses or practices.  The last survey was to establish how members were affected by the pandemic.  The findings are extremely interesting.

Within the next two months we will begin teaching RELUX DESKTOP to our Advanced Diploma Students only.  The reason that we decided to only teach our Advanced Diploma students this in Module 28 during their second year is because they learn all the other content including CIE directives, standards, regulations, lighting economics and COVID protocols i lighting design.  We have a very close association with Relux Switzerland who have been very helpful and in particular with licences for third party luminaires and other functions.

Those who are not yet students are invited to join us and find out that there is more to lighting than meets the eye  for lighting today and in the future!

We would like to welcome the following new students to BHA School of Lighting

Alan Horn, Cabfor Group, Cape Town – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course
Lilitha Tuswa, Lascon Project Lighting, Alberton – BHASL001C20: Foundation Lighting Course

Happy Birthday to the following students celebrating their Birthdays this March! We hope you all have a memorable day!

Daryl Potgieter, Johannesburg – 2 March
Ross Sharp, Cape Town – 3 March
Eric Ceba, Port Elizabeth – 8 March
Henk Goris, Durban – 14 March
Abigail Govindasamy, Cape Town – 21 March
Corrie Prinsloo, Centurion – 25 March
Johan Swart, Pretoria – 29 March
Willem Coetzee, Centurion – 30 March
Lorraine De Bruyn, Pretoria – 31 March

The following students are preparing to write their final theory and practical examinations before graduating as Illumination Engineers.  We wish you success!

Renske Snyman, Cape Town
Corrie Prinsloo, Centurion
Henk Goris, Durban

Congratulations to our BHA School of Lighting students who have become Student Members of The Institution of Lighting Professionals (UK)

Dean Boyce, Cape Town, South Africa – Graduate
Chaitanya Dang, Raipur, India
Lorraine De Bruyn, Pretoria, South Africa
Tammy De Oliveira, Cape Town, South Africa
Abinaya Jevaraju, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Erin Jones, Cape Town, South Africa – Graduate
Ryan Jones-Hockley, Johannesburg, South Africa – Graduate
Madhura Kotkar, Pune, India
Mia Koster, Windhoek Namibia
Tammy Maharaj, Stanger, South Africa
Enzo Manna, Pretoria, South Africa
Savas Seckin, Istanbul, Turkey
Julian.V Smith, Cape Town, South Africa
Mark Storm, Cape Town, South Africa
Johan Swart, Johannesburg, South Africa
Mthulisi Dube, Pretoria, South Africa
Sharl Wasserfall, Cape Town, South Africa
Leonel Esteban Garcia Nunez, Mexico City, Mexico
Mohammad AlMuhanna, Khobar, Saudi Arabia
Corrie Prinsloo, Centurion, South Africa
Imagine Thabang, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sicelo Zitha, Johannesburg, South Africa

Join BHA School of Lighting’s “enLightened Community”

Our series of industry accredited live webinars have been developed to share lighting industry knowledge with build environment professionals which cover a vast range of interesting topics from the world of lighting.

Webinar Schedule

18 March: Light Nutrition by special guest speaker Terry John (UK) Register Here

8 April: Hospital Lighting including Human-Centric Lighting

22 April: Architectural lighting – Residential & Heritage Buildings

6 May: Façade lighting for Commercial Buildings

20 May: Security Lighting

10 June: Street & Road Lighting Design using Relux Desktop

24 June: Sport Field Lighting

Join the BHA School of Lighting’s Alumni and follow us on LinkedIn –

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A 17-FLOOR office building in the United States has become the planet’s biggest Bluetooth mesh project for lighting control.

The project consists of no fewer than 3,685 Bluetooth mesh McWong TruBlu lighting controllers installed in the light fittings. The technology is designed to deliver networked lighting control with customised lighting, scheduling, and dimming capabilities.  Using the TruBlu web app, the supplier, Energy Management Collaborative, designed the project with 43 areas and 708 zones.  This work was accomplished off-site using the TruBlu web app from McWong, which provides tools for project creation, design, and configuration all prior to on-site commissioning.
McWong also supplied the Bluetooth mesh device that was integrated directly into each luminaire.

A look inside the offices on one of the 17 floors

The Bluetooth mesh enabled PIR/ALS Sensor controller with 0-10V output to an LED Driver is a low voltage luminaire.  The luminaires by-passed the existing electrical lighting circuitry eliminating the need to pull additional wires. This also allowed installers to keep the customised ceiling tiles in place and reconfigure when needed using McWong’s TruBlu software tools rather than getting above the ceiling to pull and connect physical wiring.

The control scenarios were configured for either occupancy, vacancy, manual, or by schedule. Configuration was customised or replicated for each zone based on the space requirements.

Once the project was fully designed, EMC provided on-site commissioning using the branded McWong TruBlu commissioning tool.  The tool was developed with McWong’s technology partner, Silvair. This cloud connected app, pulls down the already created configuration and uploads to the installed devices during the commissioning process.

As the crew progresses through the commissioning process, the project manager is able to view ‘live’ progress through the McWong TruBlu reporting feature. This feature provides real-time status reports so that progress can be monitored and issues can be identified and quickly remedied.

EMC provided turnkey project management throughout the project, which expanded in scope to include installing 3,685 luminaires. Each luminaire was equipped with a single DLC-certified McWong Bluetooth mesh controller.

In addition, the building owner requested to add control to existing luminaires in additional spaces accounting for an additional 225 Bluetooth mesh nodes added to the project. Highlighting the power of the Bluetooth mesh interoperable standard, these additional components were seamlessly added to the network lighting control system and worked inter-operably with the luminaire lighting controllers.  EMC deployed vacancy and occupancy scenarios for most of the project zones and in addition configured the high-end trim to as low as 60 per cent.
This combination of scenarios and settings provided an expected energy savings in excess of 75 per cent over and above that gained by LEDs alone.

As space needs change the new system can be wirelessly rezoned as needed to accommodate future reconfigurations of floor layouts.
To date this is the largest SIG standard Bluetooth mesh lighting control installation in the world, confirming its suitability for large node lighting control projects.

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