Control and management systems within buildings are poised to make a big impact. As connected lighting, HVAC, and energy take off, more building managers are looking for technology solutions that can save money over time.

Lighting is one area of building control where connected systems show potential. A large building can have hundreds or even thousands of individual lights, and if they are not managed efficiently, they could be a drain on energy.

According to research from ON World, www.onworld.com, San Diego, Calif., smart buildings equipped with wireless lighting solutions could save billions of dollars. In fact, wireless lighting controls could save $4 billion in energy costs by 2020. These savings would come in categories such as energy, labor, and components costs.

ON World says a typical building wastes close to a third of its lighting energy without an effective control system. But by integrating a wireless energy management system with the building’s lighting infrastructure, significant savings can be realized. And these systems don’t have to break the bank. ON World says an increase in the availability of standards-based solutions will eventually reduce communications costs by a factor of 10.

Installers are getting the message. A survey of professional installers found 59% are providing wireless lighting controls, and more than half provide a centralized wireless lighting control system. Some of the popular functions include occupancy detection, utility demand-response programs, and daylighting, which means buildings are designed to take advantage of natural daylight.

Some of the drivers behind the growing use of smart lighting controls include better energy-harvesting technology, wireless mesh networking, and smart drivers, according to ON World. These drivers work with LED lights, and feature integrated wireless communications, allowing remote management of the LEDs.

ON World sees industrial, warehousing, parking garages/lots, and outdoor area lighting as some of the fastest growing markets for wireless lighting controls. But by 2017, traditional commercial buildings such as offices, retail, and restaurants will make up more than 40% percent of the market. Wireless lighting control is becoming a feature that’s in demand when designing a new building.