A system that is robust and fully compliant is essential. But so too is a configuration that allows end-users to make regular checks and ensure that the system remains ‘fit for purpose’. Increasingly, the view is that this can only be achieved by having a unified network infrastructure that allows all devices to be monitored continuously, and any potential failures to be reported at the earliest possible opportunity.

Open protocol approach It is for precisely these reasons that the international vendor-neutral KNX protocol has become so integral to many major construction projects. Designed for a wide variety of commercial and domestic building automation applications, KNX allows systems including lighting, HVAC, security, AV and displays to be controlled and managed using the same open standard communications protocol.

Technology manufacturers across the spectrum have adopted KNX since it began to become more widespread in the late 1990s. At a time when even major names in the lighting world are withdrawing support for their propriety systems, the case for an open, future-proofed system such as KNX has never been stronger.

“Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review set out more than 50 recommendations regarding the

delivery of a more robust building regulatory system.”

sure they can control, monitor and test their emergency lighting systems with ease and confidence. These procedures should be seen as an essential part of the health and safety process.

In the UK there are very clear regulations concerning the provision and testing of emergency lighting systems. Lighting that illuminates emergency routes and exits must be provided in all non-single-user public and private buildings, with a full discharge procedure to be carried out once a year – and more basic functional test to be undertaken at least once per month.

Yet despite the transparency of current legislation and supporting industry standards, such as BS EN 50172:2004/ BS 5266-1:2016, it is widely known that regular testing of systems is sporadic at best. As a result, too many buildings reman ill-equipped with outdated systems and testing practices. This means they cannot be relied upon in the event of an incident, and safety is put at risk.

A consistent baseline of capabilities means that KNX can bring a welcome new level of reassurance to a project. Moreover, for lighting specifically, it can provide users with greater flexibility and control over their emergency lighting systems – both viewed individually and within the context of overall building safety.

For instance, individual groups can be monitored and controlled via the DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface), whilst a KNX/IP interface can be used to allow lighting systems to be connected across multiple buildings or floors offering the benefits of adapting to a converged network topology. This gives IP clusters of control and allows expansion of the system through the building or multiple sites.

Those who have made KNX the foundation of their building technology systems routinely report an increased sense of confidence among their technical staff and ‘regular’ employees. And although we all fervently hope that there will be no further building safety tragedies, these types of efficient and integrated system designs will provide the best opportunity for a positive outcome if the worst does ever happen. TOMORROW’S FM | 35

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