When it comes to improving the energy efficiency of buildings, there are several different options for contractors, builders, and corporate owners. This includes improving HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), lighting control, and air infiltration, just to name a few. Technology can play a key role in helping manage these building systems more efficiently.

In recent years, many builders, contractors, and corporate owners have focused energy-efficient measures, in both commercial buildings and residential homes, on temperature-control measures such as preventing air leaks and improving insulation. One area that has been a bit slow to gain traction—due to the expense of retrofitting—is automated lighting controls.

According to Pike Research, www.pikeresearch.com, Boulder, Colo., this is going to change, as the lighting-controls market is expected to grow in the next six years. Primarily, the market will be lead by office building and education.

The research firm says offices and education facilities will each represent a 27% share of lighting-controls spending between 2011 and 2017, a combined 54% share throughout that period. In particular, green building certification programs have become prominent in these areas.

Global revenues for the lighting-controls market will conservatively increase from $1.3 billion to $2.6 billion by 2016, according to Pike Research. Under a more aggressive growth scenario, the firm estimates the market could grow as large as $3.5 billion within the same period.

For the construction industry, one of the elements holding back widespread adoption of lighting controls is the cost and time involved with retrofitting existing buildings. The research firm says the office and education segment will lead lighting-controls growth due to large existing building stocks with high rates of new construction around the world.

While technology can be an expensive addition to a new or retrofit building, lighting control is one area builders, contractors, and owners might not want to skip. The technology gives building operators control of systems throughout the building—ultimately saving a significant amount of money in lighting costs while also improving the overall carbon footprint of the building.