Lighting control increases customer comfort

Helvar Oy’s lighting control system, DIGIDIM, saves energy and increases customer comfort in Koskikeskus, Tampere.

“This building is constantly changing. That’s why we wanted a lighting control system that can be modified easily. In addition, we were looking for stepless control that increases energy efficiency.”


This is according to the electrical designer Teemu Simonen(AX-Consulting, AX-LVI Consulting Ltd). The building he is talking about is Koskikeskus, which was completed in 1988 and is located in the heart of Tampere. The six-storey shopping centre houses nearly one hundred shops and health service providers. In addition, Koskikeskus offers facilities for a cinema and numerous restaurants. On the ground floor, there is one of the largest parking garages in Tampere.

Koskikeskus is owned by Citycon Oyj. One of the goals of the redevelopment project completed in late 2012 was to improve energy efficiency and customer comfort by increasing lighting, for instance. In connection with the project, nearly all business premises owned by Citycon, the shopping centre facades, the entrances and the cooling system were renovated. The shopping centre was open throughout the redevelopment. 

Valoa Design, a lighting design agency from Tampere, prepared the lighting plan that served as the starting point for AX-Consulting’s execution plan. Helvar’s DIGIDIM router system takes the amount of daylight into account and adjusts lighting accordingly. When necessary, lighting can be adjusted to the desired level. Individual shops have their separate lighting solutions, but in the common areas, old fluorescent lighting fixtures have now been replaced with modern LED luminaires. In addition, the wall of the parking garage entrance is equipped with DMX colour lighting, featuring Citycon’s own magenta and white wave as its basic colours. However, the colours of the wall can be changed. For instance, during Christmas time, it shines in different shades of red and white and Independence Day is celebrated with blue and white. 


All wishes were realised

Tarmo Mäkinen (on the left), Kimmo Mäkinen, Mika Tanskanen and Teemu Simonen

According to Simonen, there were several reasons why HELVAR’s devices were chosen. He was familiar with the system from earlier projects and knew that Helvar’s lighting control systems enable success in projects of this scale.

“With Helvar’s DIGIDIM router system, we accomplished what we wanted. Routers, buses and daylight sensors worked as desired. The lighting of the central square, located under large skylights, could be executed nicely.”

A graphical Niagara interface has been added to the system to facilitate its use. With the interface, one can easily create exceptional time programmes for different premises, for night-time cleaning, for instance.

“The system operates independently, is maintenance-free and, in a normal situation, does not require user intervention,” says Simonen, praising the system.

The Niagara interface also gives alerts of any device failures. The alert indicates the area where the device failure is located. After this, the maintenance personnel may open that area in the interface and check in the floor plan which device is flashing red. This immediately provides the maintenance personnel with detailed information about the failure and its location and the personnel can see to the maintenance of the device in question. After the maintenance, the system detects that the device has been fixed and automatically acknowledges the alert as completed. The interface also makes it possible to review the energy consumption of lighting.



The designer’s wish list for the evolving system


No lighting control system is ever fully complete. There always are—and should be—new goals. Simonen has a wish list for the constantly evolving system. In his opinion, the creation and use of time programmes should be made easier, and any exceptions made in the system should be clearly visible in Niagara.

In addition, he hopes that DALI would become a more comprehensive standard for control devices, too, because in reality, not all DALI-labelled devices can communicate with each other. 

In the future DALI 2 standard, this will change as control devices will be included within the scope of the standard.

 “In these and other issues we received help really quickly from HELVAR’s Miikka Etelälahti. It is good that Helvar’s support and design can go hand in hand,” Simonen says.


It is easy to make changes

According to Kimmo Mäkinen and Tarmo Mäkinen from Sähköasennus K&T Mäkinen Oy, the DIGIDIM router system is flexible. They maintain, change and, if necessary, expand the lighting system.

“There have been no problems whatsoever. Our task is to monitor that everything works and there has not been a single alert call,” notes Kimmo Mäkinen.

Tarmo Mäkinen emphasises how easy it is to make changes and expansions—thanks to DALI and plug-in connectors.

“The system does not crash even if some luminaires have been removed from it.”

The Mäkinen brothers intend to learn more about the DIGIDIM router system in further training. Changes can be made more quickly when one knows the structure of the system better.

“Oh yes, it is easy to add new elements to Helvar’s system,” Teemu Simonen comments.

“All luminaires could be included in the control system although some of the design work was carried out on the fly on site. Changes were made here and there in the shopping centre—in a way, I lived there for long periods of time,” he says, describing the process.

“The entire operation went very well even though there was a lot of old technology in the 30-year-old building and work was carried out while the shops were open.”

And the changes will never end; after all, the shopping centre is constantly transforming: retailers change, business premises are altered, walls are moved and so on.


The shopping centre changes—and the light with it

Good space flexibility was one of the developer’s wishes. Citycon’s Property Manager Mika Tanskanen says that the tenants, the maintenance team and the customers have been satisfied.

“We still get thanks for the comfortable, light-filled environment. I am satisfied myself, the building works,” he says.

The new lighting, with its LED luminaires, is energy-efficient. The redevelopment project brought new space and more light into the shopping centre. Even so, all four of the interviewees estimate that the lighting consumes much less energy than before.

The same applies to other energy-consuming operations of the shopping centre. Some of the electricity consumed by the cooling and heating systems is renewable energy from the Tammerkoski rapids, located next to the shopping centre. Perhaps in the future, lighting will be connected to the rapids, too, the quartet suggests as a joke.


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