The role of lighting in smart buildings. By Chris Irwin

Lighting plays a major role in the infrastructure of a building, and with advances in smart building technology, energy efficiency and lighting control is easier than ever. Whilst Building Automation Software (BAS) give facility managers the ability to set lighting schedules, dedicated lighting controls systems also enable dimming control and ‘daylight harvesting’; turning off lights near windows when the outside light level is high enough. These are the most common ways lighting alighting in buildings is managed to save energy, but the role of lighting in a smart building doesn’t have to end there.

IoT platforms such as Enlighted provide 10lighting controls that enable the building to sense occupancy patterns, and become more smart-enabled. This new breed of lighting control features a small smart sensor that can be fitted into light fixtures and elsewhere. The sensor can track motion, power usage, ambient light and temperature, and act as a Bluetooth beacon. Apart from the obvious benefit of saving energy, occupancy monitoring provides plenty more.

If every light in your building had sensors, the data captured could help building managers make smarter decisions. Data from motion can show how often a space is used, typical pathways through the building, and how the ambient light and temperature changes throughout the day. It helps make an intelligent building more intelligent.

How else can lighting technology such as Enlighted and a BAS be leveraged?

Asset tracking
Beacon technology can help track the way objects or people move within a space. In settings such as hospitals, nursing staff can spend a big part of their day trying to locate medical equipment; this can be significantly reduced by use of Bluetooth transceivers embedded in the lighting controls, which enables the type and location of the assets to be tracked, so staff can be directed to the nearest required item.

Covid solutions
There are multiple use cases for smart-enabled lighting amidst the current pandemic. This type of technology can enable people get in and out of the building in a contactless way, help analyze patterns of movement, and show areas of congestion or paths frequently used. It could also enable contact tracing to track people anonymously. If someone who uses the building tests positive, the system can track back all the people the infected person was in contact with and then send them alerts to inform them of the potential risk so that they can be tested.

Building maintenance
Being able to track occupancy can save money on cleaning services. Instead of cleaning every desk at a set time, data collected from your lights could inform your janitorial staff of what desks or areas needed to be cleaned. This can be applied to restrooms as well; sending alerts to clean after a certain number of uses rather than according to a set-schedule.

Occupant comfort
Measuring, and improving control of various aspects of our indoor environments for the well-being of a building’s occupants is becoming a greater priority for building operators. Occupant comfort is concerned with temperature, humidity, air quality, natural lighting, and during pandemic times, safety. Lighting controls that can detect temperature and ambient light levels can help create a more comfortable environment while also adjusting to circadian rhythms for a more biophilic environment (one that mimics nature). As noted earlier, these sensors can also help inform occupants about the activity around them so they can stay safely social distanced or know if they’ve been in contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19.Lighting b

Better integration gives operational and energy-saving advantages
As with all the other building services installed in buildings, historically lighting and its control has been handled as separate contractual package in a ‘siloed’ way, with little thought given to how it can integrate with other systems in the building. Even today many of the lighting control systems supplied for large commercial projects are quite proprietary but do at least now use a standard luminaire level protocol called DALI, and offer open standard protocol interface to the BMS; typically, BACnet IP. However, use of a single point interface between systems can create a bottleneck, and increases integration cost. In the case of lighting control there can be latency issues (a perceived delay between triggering an event, such as pushing a light switch, and the desired action happening). An alternative approach is to integrate lighting control with HVAC at room level, such as is offered by Siemens DXR or Distech Eclypse controllers. This approach offers many advantages and avoids the single system gateway.

Some lighting controls suppliers do offer more flexible integration options; in the case of Enlighted, their products support REST-based APIs that support GET, POST requests and XML, JSON responses as well as a BACnet integration. The value in tightly integrating lighting control is that the data provided by the PIR occupancy sensors and BLE beacons that are now almost standard on the smarter systems can then be used by the other building systems to inform their behavior, with both operational and energy saving benefits.

Beyond lighting
It would be a mistake to view lighting as purely a refurbishment project where lights are exchanged for more efficient LED ones. IoT sensors can deliver so much more. The future of lighting is more than automation, it’s expanding the role of the light fixture to be used as a means of communicating and collecting data. By leveraging light infrastructure and combining it with a powerful BAS, your building can become even more smart enabled, and your lights can bring more perception to the space within. In the future, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity will enable adaption of lighting to limitless applications and data capture requirements.

Chris Irwin is VP Sales EMEA & VP Global Marketing at J2 Innovations, a fast growing, innovative software technology company based in California. They are the creators of the FIN Framework (FIN), a state-of-the-art open framework for smart buildings, smart equipment and IoT applications.
FIN is a next-generation software framework for smart buildings, smart equipment and IoT applications. FIN can integrate, control, manage, analyze, visualize, connect, and can be embedded on a controller, gateway, HMI or server. The FIN Framework offers OEMs, System Integrators, and end user solutions that are faster, easier, and better.


The latest news and announcements from the world of North American construction – contracts, projects, products and more!

Scanning the road ahead
News 1GSSI, the world’s leading manufacturer of ground penetrating radar (GPR) equipment, has revealed PaveScan® RDM 2.0 – an innovative asphalt density assessment tool that provides accurate real-time measurements to ensure pavement life and quality.

GSSI unveiled PaveScan® RDM 2.0 for the US and Canada at the Transportation Research Board 2020 Conference in January. PaveScan 2.0 incorporates a new sensor design built specifically for the extremes of the asphalt paving environment, foldable deployment arms with high-visibility for work site safety and has a warm-up time of under one minute when ambient temperature is over 70°F.

PaveScan RDM is ideal for uncovering problems that occur during the paving process, including poor uniformity and significant variations in density. By avoiding these problems, PaveScan RDM helps avoid such premature failures as road raveling, cracking, and deterioration along joints.


Contracts totaling $148m
Granite Inliner, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Granite, with one of the most comprehensive service portfolios in the piping infrastructure renewal industry, has been awarded five sewer renewal contracts totaling approximately $148 million by the City of Chicago. These contracts will be booked into Granite’s third quarter 2020 backlog.

“This project marks our fourteenth year partnering with the City of Chicago since the inception of this sewer renewal program,” said Granite Inliner Regional Vice President Denise McClanahan. “Granite Inliner takes pride in knowing that our work is helping to protect the city’s essential infrastructure and uphold our commitment to sustainable development.”

The five contracts, City of Chicago Sewer Lining Term Agreements Area 1 - 5, are part of a multi-year program to renew Chicago’s aging sewer system. Cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining extends the life of hydraulically adequate sewers at lower cost than excavating and replacing sewers in the streets and is less disruptive to vehicular and pedestrian traffic during construction.

Granite Inliner will be responsible for the CIPP lining of 10-inch to 60-inch diameter sewers, structure rehabilitation and sewer repairs for a total of 575,000 lineal feet. Liner Products, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Granite, will supply all CIPP materials.

The project is funded by the City of Chicago and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2020 and be complete in summer 2022 with an optional one-year extension.

New university building
News 2Kinsley Construction, Inc. recently began construction on the new three-story, 21,000-square-foot Allied Health Building at Penn State’s Mont Alto campus. With an increased need for qualified healthcare professionals, this facility will elevate the university’s nursing, physical therapy assistant and occupational therapy assistant programs.

Designed by Hord Coplan Macht, the facility offers:

  • Two high-fidelity labs
  • Nursing simulation labs
  • A multi-purpose room with overhead viewing
  • A daily living lab where physical therapy and occupational therapy students learn to assist patients with their daily lives
  • A pediatrics and wellness clinic
  • A hand therapy and rehabilitation clinic
  • A physical therapy auxiliary lab
  • A neuro-orthopedic lab
  • Office and support space throughout

After 16 months of preconstruction services as the Construction Manager, Kinsley began on-site construction the first week in August with a scheduled completion date during the fall of 2021.

Working together
Bluebeam, leading developer of solutions and services that set the standard for architecture, engineering and construction professionals worldwide has revealed the newest version of Revu, its flagship project efficiency and collaboration solution. Revu 20 delivers greater flexibility and control with improved user and content management capabilities and streamlines communication with new enhancements designed to increase accuracy and save time.

“When we think of ‘teamwork’ on a construction project, we think about removing barriers through technology while unlocking the inherent potential of a group of diverse project partners,” said Bluebeam CEO Jon Elliott. “When teams have the right solutions in place to work together seamlessly across distances and time zones, all of the investments an organization makes in training, management and process development can be realized through clear and measurable improvements in quality, accuracy and efficiency. Revu 20 delivers improved communication management capabilities and productivity improvements that are designed to maximize an organisation’s investments across the board.”

Revu 20 introduces new communication features that are designed to boost productivity and enable more successful project delivery, improved user and content management capabilities to provide greater flexibility and control, and enhancements to the powerful annotation tools in Revu that improve project data management when reviewing, commenting, annotating, tracking and managing project documents.

New building for Thunderbird
News 3After nearly becoming a business school that went out of business only five years ago, Thunderbird is now an international b-school thriving in the pandemic in spite of half of its students coming from outside the US. This remarkable turnaround story remains untold outside Arizona.

Thunderbird now has a modern, sustainable building under construction in Phoenix. The desert-friendly five-story building will cover 110,000 square feet and include the Global Forum, providing adaptable, multi-purpose event space and an LED globe that connects all members of the School’s global network via live social media updates; an Innovation Lab, serving as the hub of experiential activity for students with offerings such as a VR/AR technology-enhanced Language Lab; Global Heritage Lounges celebrating various regions and the school’s history, and on the roof, the Pub — an icon from Thunderbird’s early days.

The school launched in 1946 at a decommissioned US Army airfield in Glendale that had been used to train pilots from around the world during World War II. In 2014, Thunderbird officially became part of ASU, and in 2018, moved from the sprawling Glendale campus to temporary quarters in Downtown Phoenix, America’s fifth-largest and fastest-growing city.

Thunderbird Global Headquarters plans to celebrate its grand opening in the fall of 2021.

A live video stream of construction and a virtual video flythrough of the building’s features are at

Restoration of historic building
Cintec North America’s reinforcement anchors are providing stability and support during the revitalization of Canada’s most renowned concert venue, Massey Hall.

As Massey Hall marks its 125th anniversary, a century and a quarter of Canadian history has been stripped bare to be massively restored, not only to recapture the hall’s original sound, but to make sure it will serve audiences for generations to come.

Cintec™ reinforcement anchors can stabilize and strengthen an unreinforced masonry structure without the need for external and internal steel bracing, making them ideal for historical buildings, masonry bridges, monument repair, high rise buildings, retaining walls and harbor walls. Cintec reinforcement anchors also withstand freeze-thaw cycles without shrinkage or loss of strength, limiting the threat of Toronto, Ontario weather to the historic structure.

A simple, easy-to-use system with fast installation and minimal cleanup, the specific reinforcement and anchoring system used for Massey Hall is custom-designed for the project, as are all Cintec projects.

Merger unites leaders
Ecobot, the developer of transformative environmental data reporting software, has acquired the wetland delineation software platform WetForm.

This acquisition will solidify Ecobot as the preeminent software provider in the space. Through its acquisition, WetForm customers will have full access to the Ecobot platform: a submeter-accurate wetland app which includes enhanced Esri ArcGIS mapping technology, and a cloud-based project management and delivery dashboard. Patrick Murphy, WetForm’s founder, will join the Ecobot team as senior wetland scientist. “It is satisfying to know that WetForm values and features will influence and migrate to Ecobot,” says Patrick. “It is also exciting that the GIS features of Ecobot will exceed WetForm’s capabilities, providing a better overall benefit to hard-working field personnel. This merger takes the past and propels it well into the future.”


The world’s leading manufacturer of remote-controlled demolition machines, Brokk, has enhanced its aftermarket service capabilities, including machine refurbishment and repair, with the addition of its new Demonstration and Service Center in St. Joseph, Missouri. The 10,000-square-foot center reduces lead times Brokk RepairRefurb 1on repair and refurbishment services, allowing the manufacturer to support customers’ existing product lines. Customers can repurpose older Brokk machines with complete overhaul options, increasing fleet value and maximizing inventory flexibility with an ideal blend of Brokk equipment for their operation. A team of technicians with more than 60 years of combined experience offers expert service and increased convenience for Brokk customers across the U.S. and Canada.

“How you support customers after a sale is what sets manufacturers apart,” said Lars Lindgren, president of Brokk Inc. “Whether it’s unexpected downtime or routine maintenance, we understand fast, convenient service options are vital to our customers’ success. To best support our customers, we’ve gathered the people and tools they need all in one centralized location.”

The St. Joseph facility includes a full-service shop with wash bay, workshop and welding station. A staff of four full-time technicians provides an array of service options from routine maintenance to repairs and refurbishments. The Demonstration and Service Center also houses an extensive inventory of Brokk machines, attachments and parts, as well as a number of hydrodemolition robots and products for sister company, Aquajet.

 LISA ANN MARCHESI 01Women are helping to pave the way to great things in construction.   

By Lisa-Ann Marchesi

The shifts in the construction industry over the past decade have been profound. Digital technologies aiding in the advancement of energy efficiency, sustainability and safety; monumental feats in design and building skyscrapers to staggering heights, once dreamed of as purely science fiction; and a discernible influx of women in the construction space altering the demographic make-up of the workforce. The changes are head-spinning.

 OVERTIME 1Overtime rules will impact the construction industry.

By Mary Beth Saylor

In 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum to the Department of Labor (DOL) to update and modernize the regulations governing the exemption of executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) employees from the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or Act). The primary reasons for the change? Salary levels in the prior regulations were fixed, and there was not a mechanism for keeping them commensurate with the appropriate percentile of average wages today and into the future. Additionally, the change is expected to help accomplish one of the President's goals of ensuring workers are compensated fairly for their work.

Seeking growth domestically and beyond, Twining is bringing its world-class testing and verification services to clients in many segments of construction.

By Eric Slack

Twining has been setting standards since it was founded in 1898. From its origins as a company focused on agricultural soil testing, Twining is today a leading provider of materials testing and verification of code compliance services.

Twining has more than 200 cross-certified field personnel, a panel of nationally recognized experts who are authorities regarding their respective construction materials, and a network of sophisticated laboratories throughout California. It employs materials engineers and experts who understand construction materials and their application in the field, which allows the company to not only perform on projects with clients but to also work with regulatory agencies to play a role in improving existing regulations.

“As of the end of last year, we had about 300 employees and have five full-service laboratories in addition to our headquarters, where we do engineering and administrative work,” President Rob Ryan says. “Our core competencies now revolve around testing of structural materials and verification of compliance with construction documents.”

All Shapes and Sizes

The company’s current suite of services and offerings is extremely diverse. They include geotechnical engineering, applied research and materials engineering, flexible pavement engineering, construction special inspection and materials testing laboratories. Twining also offers stormwater services, roofing and waterproofing inspection, forensic evaluation and expert witness services, evaluation of existing structures, pavement evaluation and design, construction, quality assurance programs and onsite mobile laboratories.

This cadre of services has allowed Twining to work on projects of all types and sizes, from high-rise residential developments and freeway retaining walls to runway relocations and medical facilities. In fact, the company has provided sound engineering, testing and inspection for many of the region’s landmark projects.

“We work in all areas of construction other than single-family residential construction,” Ryan says. “Our projects include major institutional projects, civil projects, commercial projects, schools, hospitals, bridges, runways and freeways, as well as geotechnical engineering for foundation and pavement design. We test materials used for those in our labs.”

Twining’s longevity helps the company establish itself in the minds of current and prospective clients. The company generally finds that when anyone in its markets is looking for a proposal for the kinds of services Twining offers, it is usually on their list.

“When we are on projects we get to know the principals and look for information on what they have coming up,” Ryan says. “With agencies, developers and contractors, we know our services must be competitive. It helps to know client pain points so we can be clear about what we can offer.”

At the same time, the company takes an aggressive approach to marketing, networking at events and tradeshows and being active on social media as well as its company blog and website.

On the March

Always looking to drive the industry forward, Twining is heavily engaged with in-house research and partnerships with external industry innovators. This helps the company play a role in identifying emerging materials and new technologies, which in turn gives Twining a hand in crafting the guidelines and regulations that will become industry standards.

The company is also mindful of the trends that are impacting its markets. It reviews economic data to gain an understanding of factors such as where construction materials are being shipped and what sectors of the market are heating up or cooling down.

“For example, right now there are a lot of airport improvements and multi-use, multistory residential projects taking place in Los Angeles,” Ryan says. “There is a lot of money coming into southern California from Asian markets funding non-civil projects. At the same time, the civil market is staying fairly steady in places like the airports and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In the highway sector, there is a fair amount of work there, although that trend is diminishing and we are seeing more P3 projects with local self-help agencies.”

Thanks to its awareness of market conditions and willingness to drive its industry, Twining feels it can put forth an aggressive growth plan for itself. The company believes it will continue to grow organically in its traditional market, but it believes acquisitions and partnerships will be critical for the company to expand its presence around the country and the world.

“We have an M&A consultant and are looking at some opportunities,” Ryan says. “We are looking for expansion through diversification of services into complementary areas and through geographic expansion.”

As the company considers its M&A possibilities, enhancement of geographic footprint or service lines will be the main concern. It also wants to engage with companies that can positively impact its earnings right away.

“We are no looking for fixer-uppers,” Ryan says. “We are looking for profitable companies that we can enhance through our marketing expertise and skillset. We have looked at opportunities in a number of states and are actively engaged in looking for the right firms. Above all else, these companies must share our culture and give people free rein and opportunity to build their own empire. They must have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to grow and expand their footprint and capabilities.”

These ambitious plans should help Twining meet its revenue and earnings growth goals over the next few years. The company believes acquiring and internally adding service lines and personnel that complement its strengths will help the company expand, allowing it to stay at the forefront of concrete testing technology and non-destructive testing techniques as the market develops.

“In the end, we want to create opportunities for the enthusiastic and ambitious people in our company,” Ryan says. “The harder they work and utilize their imagination and creativity to achieve results, we want to be able to help them realize the best possible future that they can have by being here at Twining.”


To create an effective work environment, acoustic professionals typically take a three-pronged approach that involves absorbing, blocking and covering noise. Because all three strategies are required to achieve the best results, they are collectively referred to as the “ABC Rule.”

Regional synergies are one of the strengths of the approach to retail, mixed-use and office development and acquisitions that is practiced by Ivanhoé Cambridge. “We’re very focused on building upon the established platforms that we have,” Executive Vice President of Development Paul Gleeson emphasizes. “By platform, I mean you successfully have all the disciplines associated with real estate.”

These include development, legal, leasing and operations management expertise. For international development in countries such as Brazil – where Ivanhoé Cambridge has been developing primarily retail properties along with some office space for more than 10 years – local expertise is crucial.

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