Harvesting daylight and dollars



Addressing the growing need for sustainable design in commercial facilities, SHW Group redesigned its Dallas office in a manner consistent with its design principles—sustainability, basic architecture, and collaboration.


SHW Group installed the Convia Sustainable Infrastructure from Convia Inc./Herman Miller Co. , Buffalo Grove, Ill. The infrastructure is a smart-building platform that features “plug-and-play” power to anywhere within a space without the need for hardwiring of devices or switches. The system allows for sustainable environments that can be modified or upgraded. The smart-building platform also lets users control workspace utilities—lights, shades, audio/video—and set them to personal preferences.


Convia's Global Gateway programs the modular building platform from a personal computer as energy consumption and savings are simultaneously displayed in real time. Built into the electrical infrastructure, the platform allows users to control energy usage and to make electrical changes without opening walls or moving wires. The interior spaces become programmable environments through the use of a handheld, two-button remote control wand or via a web portal. The connections are made by pointing the wand at two or more objects and creating an electrical association between them.


The Convia system accommodates change and allows for fine-tuning of energy strategies. Sensors can be moved or added within minutes, and reprogrammed to trigger different lighting zones in seconds using the two-button wand.


SHW Group's previous office was a traditional, sectioned-off work environment with closed-door offices and surrounding cubicles. The firm moved to a new space to incorporate an open-floor plan in its design. SHW wanted to expand its in-house use of energy-saving technologies, in particular daylight harvesting.




Located on the second floor, SHW's 30,000-sq-ft office features large windows to capitalize on natural light resources. The southern-facing facade and interior, transparent glass walls further enhance the office's internal illumination. As the sunlight increases throughout the morning and afternoon, the artificial lighting decreases to keep the office's lighting balanced.


The platform features dynamic load balancing, so the firm can set a maximum power usage for the space. If usage exceeds the set level, lower priority lighting loads will automatically dim to keep usage at the predetermined level. Additionally, electrical devices are programmed to turn off at a preset time to avoid energy usage when the space is unoccupied.


“Using Convia Sustainable Infrastructure we reduced the brightness of lights in our office space by 20% and no one even noticed a difference,” said Charles Culbertson, lead electrical engineer of SHW Group. “This will pay big dividends in reducing our utility bills, as well as in saving environmental resources.”


SHW Group wanted a smart-building platform that would ease future expansions of the office. The “plug-and-play” power managed by the remote control wand allows users to renovate any space without having to tear out old wiring and install new configurations.


“As we look to expand our office by 15,000 sq ft in the near future, Convia makes it easy to reprogram all of our daylight harvesting sensors and lighting switches, and eliminates the need for expensive electrical rewiring,” said Greg Chase, technology director at SHW Group.


During the design and construction phase of the new office space, Convia used 100% reusable components to eliminate landfill waste. Convia's smart-building platform qualifies a building for up to eight LEED points, and buildings that use the platform can gain up to 30% in energy savings in comparison to ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004.




Information provided by Convia Inc./ Herman Miller Co.


At A Glance

SHW Group in Dallas wanted the redesign of its new office space to reflect its design principles—sustainability, basic architecture, and collaboration.


The firm implemented the Convia Sustainable Infrastructure from Convia Inc./Herman Miller Co. The smart-building platform enabled SHW to take advantage of energy-saving technologies in several ways, including:


  • Designing the office space with large windows that face south in order to harvest the many hours of sunlight in Texas.

  • Dynamic load balancing to allow the firm to set a maximum power usage for the space.

  • Work environments that can be modified to an individual's personal preferences for lighting, shades, and audio/video.

  • Monitoring the building's energy usage and savings from a personal computer in real time.


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